Went to the Monte Cristo Café in 4 Embarcadero Center last night. This is the huge space on the top floor that was originally built out as a Greek place (Santorini?). Overlooks Justin Herman Plaza so there's an impressive view. We had:
Grilled octopus with potatoes ($12): desperately needed salt but once we finally got enough in there it was delicious. Similar to A16's, more potato than octopus.
Warm beets with parmesan, truffle oil & tardivo ($7): delicous, really clever combination, good value. Reminded me of Oliveto.
Buffalo mozzarella with raw asparagus and lemon zest ($10): good, little heavy on the zest.
Cardoon pizza ($14): another clever idea, very tasty. They've got a wood pizza oven. Somewhere between Roman and Neapolitan style: not super-thin or super-crisp. Good structural integrity. I'd specify crispy / well-done next time.
We'd have tried a hot coppa and fennel pizza too, but they accidentally brought us two of the cardoon. Comped us for the second.
Sides of broccoli rabe ($5) and sauteed carrots ($5): simple, delicous, big helpings, excellent value.
Too stuffed to try desserts. Wine list was mostly boring (waiter said they're revamping it) but we found a couple of good bottles: Gessami muscat-sauvignon blanc blend ($30) and a '99 Ch. Meyney ($40).
Apparently they recently changed chefs and this is a new menu with a more Italian focus. New guy is Armando Maes, who cooked at Kokkari and Rose Pistola.
Probably one of the best places in SF that can accommodate a party of any size at peak dinner hours with no reservation and free parking (after 5pm, with validation).