A couple weeks ago I tried the newest outpost of Rulli, the Gran Caffe in San Franciscos Marina District, for breakfast. As Ciaogina describes below, its a beautiful store that transports you to Northern Italy. Theres a wine section in the back corner and a small dining alcove tucked behind it with a handful of tables. With A16s southern Italian offerings across the street, Chestnut Street is now home to some of the most authentic Italian food around.
I ordered and paid for my food at the counter, then retrieved it when my name was called. I considered taking a table outside, but the sun wasnt out yet and I opted for the large central seating area. I grabbed a copy of the Italian cooking magazine from a stack of reading material.
The latte, $2.55, was remarkably mild and bland with weak foam that dissipated quickly. The ham and egg panini, $5.25, made with a buttery brioche-like bun heated and pressed flat was wonderfully rich and filling, although Id get it without the overly dry scrambled egg next time. The best part though was the assortment of cookies ($19.95/lb.) that I took home with me. The amaretti are top notch with intense and deep almond flavor, and I recently heard that the secret ingredient is the use of apricot kernels (laetril, anyone?). The macaroon, the tiny tart filled with apricot jam, and the palmier are also excellent.
Then on Monday, Andy Jacob and I had our dessert and coffee here after a spot of lunch with a flight of Southern Italian wines at A16. This time we paid for our order, then we were given a numbered flag for our food to brought to the table. I had a cappuccino, $2.45, yeah, a crime in the afternoon. But I wanted to see if a different barista could do a better job. The milky foam was denser and the coffee more flavorful with less milk dilution than the latte, but the house blend is still extremely mild even for this only occasional coffee-drinker. We shared a slice of Amore, a chocolate mousse cake filled with fresh raspberries, $5.75, which was nice but not as memorable as other cakes Ive tried from Rulli. I also learned that the pastries are still baked in Larkspur, whereas the earlier plan had been to bake on site.
Having stopped by at breakfast and lunch times, Im now wondering what the evening meal is like here. Has anyone tried the dinner entrees?
Emporio Rulli Gran Caffe
2300 Chestnut St.
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