Lots of fun dinner meetings lately, so I've been able to try some new places I might not ferret out on my own.
First up: La Trappe, the new Belgian place in North Beach. We wandered up there around 6 p.m., right when they open, and were the first to enter. The server ushered us downstairs and I let out a silent groan, thinking I'd be buried in some musty, dim basement. Quite the opposite: the lower level is gorgeous, some of the loveliest (and most flattering) light and woodwork I've seen in a while. Everyone's skin looked dewy and youthful; we'd all been returned to our prime. But with beer!
I described my taste and the server recommended Ename from the extensive beer menu. It was great--I liked it so much I hoped I'd be able to find it elsewhere. We split moule frites and a nicoise salad for dinner. Both were excellent. The moules were offered in three styles; we selected the Provencal. I could have used a bit more garlic, but the mussels were sweet and fresh. Terrific crisp fries. I had some bites of the salad, which was also very good--a generous hunk of seared tuna, leaves with not too much dressing. I'd definitely return. Much more casual and relaxed than the Belgian place on 16th, probably because the space is about quadruple the size.
Beretta: love the cocktails, love the big space and high ceiling. Don't so much love the food. We shared cauliflower with pangratatto and capers, zucchini parmigiana, funghi misti pizza and a dish of meatballs.
My friends chose the dishes, three of which were similiar to things I've had at Pizzeria Delfina, which basically supplies 50% of the calories I consume on any given week, so I couldn't help but compare. In every category Beretta fell short--the cauliflower was flavorless and probably could have used a heavy swig of caper juice; the funghi misti pizza was just ok and needed lots more salt in the crust; and while the tomato sauce was tasty and not over-sweet, the meat wasn't flavorful enough in the meatballs. Zucchini: eh.
The atmosphere's fun and the location is convenient for me. Probably I'd return to Beretta for appetizers and drinks, then move elsewhere if I needed something more substantial.
800 Greenwich St, San Francisco, CA 94133
1199 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110