Okay, so my previous meal at Frascati (SF, corner of Hyde and Green Sts.) was in 1999 and just not very good. Not good enough to go back until last night, when Scott and I joined three friends for dinner. New owner, new chef, new perspective for me.
We started with the cheese plate, which was a well-chosen selection of four cheeses, some sliced fruit, honey-drizzled almonds and candied walnuts. We enjoyed the cheese with a bottle of Pleides ("11th Edition" '99?). The featured wine of the week was a Barbera Riserva, Fattoria Enotria 1998 from Mendocino, and we were lucky to get two glasses of that before they ran out. No matter, the Pleides was also delicious.
Three of us started with the roasted corn soup with avocado puree and crab meat. This was a big hit, and Clara enjoyed her beet salad with arugula, orange and goat cheese. However, the absolutely phenomenal dish was the salad of haricots verts with ricotta salata and truffle vinaigrette. I was lucky enough to have ordered that, and it was *great*. The vinaigrette was warm and fragrant with the perfect balance of truffle, garlic and vinegar flavors. The beans were dressed and tossed with finely diced tomatoes and shavings of the ricotta salata. Do not miss this salad.
For our main courses, we had the seafood "paella" with chicken, sausage and mussels, the roast chicken breast, the pork tenderloin with bacon mashed potatoes, the roast salmon and the braised veal cheeks with spinach pappardelle. All were delicious, although the veal cheeks/noodle dish was deemed a bit heavy and too soft -- the flavor was fine, but some textural contrast would have helped.
Finally, we shared two desserts, a strawberry-rhubarb crisp and the house special chocolate bread pudding. Both were very good, especially the bread pudding which was almost brownie-like in its chocolatiness.
The restaurant has that welcoming neighborhood feel, but done better than most places manage. We saw the owners going to the tables throughout the evening, making sure all was well, and our server was also friendly and efficient.
The only complaints we had, and they're minor, were that the server mistakenly cleared Scott's unused wine glass and poured Pleides over his Barbera, there was no vegetarian entree on the menu, and parking on Russian Hill is pretty much impossible. We couldn't even valet park because they had too many cars already.
Otherwise, the place is a gem, and that haricot vert salad is amazing. Get there while those green beans are still in season.