A NYC native once said on this board that San Francisco doesn't have any restaurants that are secret finds... the locals just "think" that it does.
Well, I'm quite sure I have never seen a review of Allegro - a tiny little corner Italian restaurant at the top of Russian Hill - nor have I heard any discussion about it (other than by Wendy Wong here on this board).
But, there is no question that Allegro is worth finding and, judging from the lack of commotion, certainly something of a secret.
Allegro has perhaps 8 tables... it is tiny... homey, yet elegant.
At Allegro the owner's wife greets you promptly at the door, calmly leads you to your table, and then resumes her meal and quiet discussion with a friend at the back corner table.
At Allegro the waiters are true professionals, having been practiced in their craft and loyally employed by the proprietor, Angelo Quaranta, for as long as anyone can remember.
At Allegro the menu presents familiar Italian fare, sticking to the classics, while allowing a daily special or two to showcase seasonal items.
At Allegro, the simplicity of the food, forces you to admit that *this* is what food ought to be... simple, fresh ingredients speaking for themselves.
Our table of four shared antipasti of caprese salad and grilled mixed vegetables. Simple, clean, perfect.
Next we shared two orders of simply prepared fettucine, with fresh cheese and black pepper grated over our plates.
Then came the most tender 'scotta-ditta' (ribs) of rack lamb immaginable... seasoned only ever so slightly.
With our meal we enjoyed a bottle of 1995 'Speri' Amarone di Valpolicella that we had asked if we could bring (corkage $10). The wine mathed up nicely with the richly dressed pasta and earthy, flavorsome lamb.
To end the meal we ordered a couple desserts, one of which was a delicious house-made fig and cinnamon ice cream. Delicious.
Because we brought our own wine and split our meal (two antipasti, two paste, two entrees, two desserts) between the four of us, our bill turned out to be remarkably reasonable (approx $125 all inc).
As we made our way to the door, we paused to review Mr. Quaranta's small collection of photos featuring local politicians and celebs who had quietly enjoyed a fine meal at Allegro.
Finally, we left and made our way down from Allegro's little corner at the top of Russian Hill... with city lights twinkling in the distance and a warm feeling of satisfaction in our hearts.
Who says there are no secret finds in San Francisco?