Restaurants & Bars 2

Dinner at Incanto

pane | Mar 20, 2008 12:54 PM

Last night I went to Incanto with two friends for a celebration. They had never been before. We sat at the bar and shared:

-citrus and shaved fennel with red onion and olive
-fluke crudo
-asparagus, yellowfoot chanterelles, spring onion and egg
-pig's trotter with foie, bacon and pear
-bucatini with cured tuna heart and egg yolk
-barolo malfatti, chicory, pine nuts and pecorino
-lamb liver with leeks
-bay leaf panna cotta

For the first time I was eating here with a vegetarian. Generally I like the veg appetizers, but haven't paid attention to the vegetarian pastas or entrees, so it was interesting to look at the menu in a new light.

There were 2-3 vegetarian appetizers, one pasta, and one entree. My friend doesn't eat fish, so she couldn't have the vegetable appetizer that included anchovies or the tuna heart pasta. The vegetarian entree didn't appeal to her, so she had the entree-sized portion of pasta (barolo malfatti) and liked it--I didn't get to try it.

Overall, the highlights of the meal for me were the trotter, lamb liver, and bucatini. The trotter was chopped and served with the foie on toast, with chunks of cooked pear on the side. It was fantastic; the texture reminded me a bit of the exceptional tongue at Oliveto's whole hog dinner.

The bucatini is my go-to dish: I love, love, love it. When I come by myself, usually I get that and a glass of wine. The cured heart is shaved onto a pile of beautifully al dente bucatini, on top of which rests a bright yolk. Pierce the yolk, mix everything together, and this will transport you better than Calgon ever could.

Liver: dear lord. This was an upscale take on liver and onions, and it was incredible. I've had liver several times before this; it has always been cooked through. This liver was seared and still a warm red in the center. The flavor was rich, deep, and offset by the lovely braised leeks. Exactly the opposite of the undistinguished gray mass my grandmother sometimes cooked.

Fluke crudo was just OK for me--I had been to Bar Crudo just the previous week, so I was harder than usual to impress. The asparagus dish was good but didn't stand out, and for some reason the flavor of the citrus and fennel dish didn't come together for me. My friends liked all three dishes, so it's just a matter of personal taste.

We ended on a good note: the always welcome bay leaf panna cotta, dotted at the top with specks of vanilla bean. If someone licked the ramekin, I'm not telling.

Like always, service was warm and personable. They mixed up our entree and brought out pork shoulder instead. When our server discovered the error, he apologized and later brought us a round of dessert wines.

An entirely lovely experience. I feel lucky to have Incanto as a neighborhood restaurant.

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Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar
1550 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94131

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