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Two recent good meals--Merenda & Tommaso's

Fine | Jan 23, 200410:00 PM

Ate two monthly specials, (not very much) broccoli pizza and Penne Arrabiata, starting with better-than-remembered CooCoo Clams. Just about perfect Tommaso's meal, marred only by a very drunk and loud woman, whom, had I been Agostino, I'd have tossed. (Kearny below Broadway, North Beach)

Merenda: Finally got around to this place in our neighborhood, on Union at Octavia. Prices are determined by number of courses and we ended up having 3 apiece and over-spending a bit.

Highlights: exceptionally good, juicy chicken sausages with a nice complementary raw, daikonlike radish garnish; wonderful seafood appetizer of tiny spiedini of grilled baby squid pieces, smoked ahi with oiled crostini, and white anchovies; a good, almost stewlike black-peppery soup of cabbage, butternut squash, and huge white beans; and a very generous serving of chicken breast with brussels sprouts, blood oranges, and filberts. Other dishes were good, not exciting.

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