Reposted. Dropped during import.
I actually enjoyed my lunch at Alioto’s. There are lunch specials. For about $12, you can get a decent meal, in a nice room with a good view served by tuxedo-clad waiters and busboys.
The restaurant has some Sicilian dishes and there are also some Asian preparations of the fish dishes.
I chose one of the lunch specials - the soup of the day and half bay a Bay shrimp sandwich.
The soup was a Sicilian soup with a deeply golden chicken broth. It had a few peas and noodles, some cooked egg yolk and meatballs. The broth didn’t have a very chickeny flavor but it was house-made and pleasant enough. There were also two crusty Boudin sourdough rolls.
The half-sandwich was on a soft onion foccacia roll, the crust shiny with olive oil. The bay shrimp was delicate and fresh, mixed with a little mayo. There was a nice leaf of butter lettuce. The onion in the focaccia was just the thing to give a little more interest to the sandwich. The onion flavor was as delicate as the shrimp and the two married nicely.
For dessert, they whisk out a dessert tray. Everthing is made in-house except the sorbet.
I went for the dessert sampler which looked so cute – mini-cannoli, mini-crème brulee, some marinated fresh strawberries and a small scoop of raspberry sorbet.
The crème brulee was really excellent and probably one of the best I’ve had, thick, rich, very deeply yellow from the eggs with a perfect hard caramelized top. The raspberry sorbet was good too with an intense raspberry flavor as a slight tang. The cannoli shell was crisp, there were a few chocolate chips and each end was capped with a red cherry.. However, it didn’t have a lot of flavor. The strawberries were cold with a little taste of the fridge. However, the liquor saved them and in-season I bet they are good.
Alioto’s has their own private brand of draft ale made in Petaluma. It was a nice, full-bodied beer with deep golden-reddish color. It was $4.75 and I’d order it again. They also have Anchor Steam on draft, a few more common beers and Widmere unfiltered Hefewiezen.
The wine list was nice too with some interesting wines by the glass and bottle. Wines by the glass were $5 - $11. The most expensive wine by the glass was 2002-Carano, Tre Terre, Russian River Valley (11.75). The least expensive was Beringer White Zinfandel, $4.75. I started the meal with a nice Canella Di Conegliano Prosecco for $6.
Bottles were mainly in the $20 - $30 range. There were a handful of really expensive bottles, the most expensive were the 1999 Barolo, Bussia, Poderi, Aldo Conterno $145.00 and the 2000 Barbaresco, Gaj $335.00. The complete current wine list is on the website (link below).
There is a nice little bar with a fantastic view. The prices and quality are good enough that I would drop in for a drink if in the area.
Looking around on other tables, I may have snagged the best lunch deal that day. The fish and chips just looked ok. The burgers were on sourdough rolls. Someone’s salmon looked as good as a piece of salmon would look. I probably would have ordered the fish, but I was interested in the Sicilian soup.
As part of a lunch special, it was ok. However, I would not be as happy if I bought it a la cart - $7.65 a cup or $8.90 a bowl.
That was the problem with many of the dishes. I wouldn’t pay the dinner prices. I asked which fish was fresh and was told the only fresh fish was the sea bass – at $30. Fish comes with a choice of preparations. I believe the sea bass could be ordered Sicilian style roasted with onions & tomatoes.
Interesting dishes on the regular menu:
Sand Dabs (not available for the last two weeks or I would have ordered those)
- Octopus and conch salad
- Lobster Thremador (when was the last time you saw that) It was Market Price. However, the lobster tail was $72.
The poor lobsters in the tank at the front of the restaurant were looking very lethargic and I hope the fish displayed on ice was just for display because it looked very, very tired.
Walking into the restaurant is like walking into the 50’s in terms of décor. There are some booths and white-table cloth tables. The restaurant is on three levels so everyone gets a view. It has a nice view of the Golden Gate Bridge, the fishing boats below and some of the wharf. And Ghiradeli.
There is a little private room (still has a glass window with view) that is called “Sala Dela Famiglia”. The music reminded me of the soundrack from the original Thomas Crown Affair ... or more recently “Catch Me IF You Can”.
The service was a little formal and stiff. Let’s say they make the staff at Tadich’s look like the chatty “Hi my name is” types. However, after asking a lot of question about the food, when the staff catches on that you are serious about the food, they actually warmed up. This is probably one of the most Italian places I have been in San Francisco. The Godfather would eat here if he had lived to move to SF
They have two private banquet rooms ... with views. One room accommodates up to 18, the other 50.
There is free 3 hour parking in the lot next to the restaurant.
I enjoyed lingering at the table, sipping the last of my beer and gazing out at the bay and seagulls riding the breezes outside the windows. I’d give them another try if I had to eat at Fisherman’s Wharf.
There is better food and prices elsewhere in the city. However, I felt the lunch deal was fair, not a rip-off, and the food and restaurant, if not amazing, was enjoyable.
Alioto’s website (with nice picture of the view from the dining room)
Fisherman’s Wharf Crabby Crawl – Dinner at A. Sabella’s
[BROKEN LINK REMOVED]