Restaurants & Bars 2

[sf] review of ducca

rllevy | Jul 25, 2008 10:09 AM

I went to Ducca last weekend with family after a long flight in from the Midwest. The food was good, not exceptional, but the waitstaff and service were very good. We moved our reservation and had to hold an 8-top for a little under two hours before I could join the party, which wasn’t a problem at all. Almost all our food got expedited, and in general, the service was attentive beyond expectation.

I had the yellowfin crudo for my app – excellent. The tuna was in a lightly sweet, acidic sauce. The description had some pretty strong flavors – pine nuts, mint, currants – indicated, and I was a little hesitant. But the sweet of the currants and the tang of the mint were subdued enough that they matched with the bitter, heartiness of the pine nuts without overwhelming the delicate flavor of the fish. Only complaint I have is the “chips” that came with the crudo – the crudo was strong enough that it could have stood on its own. The chips that came with it were deep-fried and did not match the elegance of the crudo (think kettle-fried chips). Additionally, they were not hot, so the oil had cooled and left a layer of grease on my palate. Overall, chips should have never made it on to the plate – hot chips and cold crudo? No thanks. Cold, oil, greasy chips and cold crudo? Again, no thanks.

The portions are quite large – I got the risi-bisi risotto for my main, but in an app portions, which was more than enough. The peas were exceptionally fresh and perfectly cooked. There was no “raw pea” flavor, but they were not obliterated into a mush and still had a good crunch. The risotto was well cooked; I find risotto is usually a dish I regret ordering, because most chefs can’t find that balance between underdone, crunchy insides of kernels and rice pudding, I though the dish was a bit salty – the broth/sauce was on the salty side, as well as the rice itself, so I’m led to believe it was a salty stock rather than a cheese problem.

I tasted a few of my companion’s dishes – the buckwheat bucatini is interesting, but bucatini might not be the best foil for buckwheat with consideration to the heaviness of the grain. The sardine sauce that came with the bucatini was excellent. The squid ink pasta was a beautiful dish, but was pedestrian beyond being “black spaghetti”.

Dessert was quite good. I had the almond crostada, which came with strawberries and citrus ice cream. The ice cream was phenomenal – delicately flavored and creamy, without leaving a “coating” on your mouth. The crostada was a bit heavy and well-flavored, but the strawberries on top were not very fresh and lacked a bit of crunch. The caramelized almonds used to garnish the plate were very good as well, but the crostada was a bit of a disappointment – almost tasted underdone.

The brownie got rave reviews from our table; I don’t like chocolate so I only had a taste – but if it’s your thing, the brownie is excellent, although less like a brownie and more like a dense torte.

Overall, high points – the crudo, the citrus ice cream. Low points – risotto, crostada. A decent amount of this might be my personal preferences; I like delicate, balanced, light flavors. The other diners raved about the osso bucco and chicken, so perhaps the risotto was a misstep on my part. I did experiance a bit of sticker shock, but I also live in the Midwest (we still consider 3.89 "pricy" for regular; Mid-grade just popped over 4.00/gal) so, grain of salt.

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