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Restaurants & Bars 4

Claypool's BBQ, Incanto (visitor's report)

Prabhakar Ragde | Aug 23, 200412:34 AM

We were going to have lunch at A16 after a visit to the Exploratorium, but we got a dinner reservation at Incanto, so we decided to have lunch at Claypool's BBQ. This is a small place directly across from Isa on Steiner near Lombard. I had the pulled pork platter with whiskey beans and slaw. The pork resembled deconstructed carnitas and not anemic tinga, which was a good thing; the sauce was squirted sparingly on top, with squeeze bottles of it around if we wanted more. The whiskey beans were too sweet and a bit soupy, but the slaw was great, not overdressed, with a mustardy taste. I need to go back and have the ribs, because that's what I had the one time I visited Memphis. Anyway, this is definitely worth a visit even if you don't happen to be in the neighbourhood (if you can stand the parking hassles).

It's probably facile to describe Incanto as "Delfina lite", but the comparison is natural. We couldn't have gotten a reservation for nine at Delfina with twenty-four hours' notice. The atmosphere is nice at Incanto, and it's not deafeningly loud. The food is solid without being really impressive, though the homemade salumi and the wine list definitely approach impressive. The kitchen really knows its Italian cooking (they dare to serve an authentic pork ragu that looks quite sparse), though I like the statement on their Web site to the effect that their food is from a part of Italy known as "California". Incanto reminds me most of Lalime's in Berkeley, though they don't range as far over the culinary map; my main course, guanciale-stuffed poussin with shelled beans and cavolo nero, was the sort of dish that I look to Lalime's for, one that doesn't call attention to itself but tosses off any criticism one might level (my small-bird incompetence is my own fault). Weak points were our particular server (rather lacklustre) and my fig-mascarpone schiacciata dessert, which was a good idea that needed a bit more fine-tuning. Oh, and you remember that 5% surcharge which you're invited to deduct from the tip? You can't do that if they automatically tack on a large-party gratuity. (I wasn't paying, so I shouldn't complain.) --PR

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