Last week, some friends were in town and we went to Tonno Rosso on for dinner. The food was very good to excellent, service was spotty, the cost was $210 for four people before tip. (Note: thats a special occasion price for us.)
Michael & I each had a cocktail (Charbay Grapefruit Vodka & Tonic). Michael & Expectant-Father-of-Triplets (EFT) split an order of 6 Hog Island oysters. Woman-Pregnant-with-Triplets (WPT) had the Roasted Pepper Soup. I had the Farinata. The oysters were fresh and tasty but then you cant really go wrong with Hog Island oysters. I didnt taste the soup but my friend enjoyed it. I enjoyed the farinata its sort of a chickpea pancake, they served it with topped with a pile of dressed salad, which made a nice contrast.
Michael had Tonno Rosso. EFT had Kobe Beef. WPT had Ravioli. I had three vegetable sides. Michaels Tonno Rosso was exquisite it was seared tuna (rare) with a tomato, caper sauce and broccoli rabe. The Kobe Beef was very tasty; it had an excellent thickly reduced sauce and came with crispy polenta cubes. The Sweet Pea Ravioli was very good, though quite delicate in comparison to the tuna and beef. I wish I had tasted it first. My vegetables were also very good I had cauliflower that was nicely caramelized and tossed with a capers & olives; broccoli rabe that was spicy with chili & crispy proscuitto and potata fritta which turned out to be a pile of warm, freshly made potato chips that tasted lightly of olive oil, had chives sprinkled on them and big shards of parmesan. I really enjoyed all of my veggies, I will admit that I immediately moved the warm potato chips to the center of the table in an effort to show some restraint. WPT said she thought I had the best food. Michael & I each had a glass of wine with our entrees though I didnt take notes so only remember that I enjoyed my pinot grigio.
For dessert, both Michael & EFT had the budino, which they both liked but didnt totally love. WPT had some sort of creamy yellow thing with fruit that was served in a martini glass, she seemed to enjoy it. I had a glass of port.
Tonno Rosso is in the old Red Herring location. Its a rectangular space. The side that faces Steuart Street has tables on the sidewalk big glass doors that open up the dining area to the street. The side that faces Embarcadero seems more formal. A full bar and a big hearth are in the transition space. Its nice, upscale white tablecloth place. I think the Embarcadero side has a nice view although I didnt check it out.
The service was spotty. I was glad that I warned my friends that the restaurant had only recently opened otherwise I would have been more embarrassed. We arrived at 6:30 w/o a reservation and were immediately offered a table facing Steuart. We ordered our appetizers and drinks but asked for a few more minutes to decide on our entrees. Our appetizers were delivered by a runner, not the server, so while we were eating, we kept an eye out for our server who had dissappeared (at this point we still had the menus but no place to put them comfortably) When the runner came to clear our appetizer plates, I had to ask him to send our server to our table. (Pitiful Joking included Well, Ive guess weve learned our lesson, well never not be ready to order again! to What? Is she out on a smoke break?)
Later, when we ordered our desserts, Michael specifically requested that he get his cappuccino & his budino at the same time. The server was all but of course. He mentioned it because weve found it to be a common practice for servers to not consider them a paired course that is bring a beautiful warm/hot dessert with a flourish then meander over 5-10 minutes later with the coffee so you have to either eat your dessert hot without coffee or let the dessert get cold. I ordered the port instead of the dessert. SFT ordered the budino & the same port. All three desserts arrived, and then the cappuccino arrived. There was a hesitation so I told them to go ahead and not wait for me. But SFT wanted his port with his dessert, so he continued to wait. And wait. We were only a few feet from the bar so I could clearly see both the bartender and our server puttering about. Just as I said that I was going to wave our server over to cancel our order, the bartender went over to the port selection and stared at it, finally pouring our ports. We finished out drinks, chatted some more and left about 9:30.
In thinking about our meal, the marvelous quality of the food certainly outweighed the minor annoyance of the service. In general, lackidasical service is not something that will prevent me from returning to a place with great food. Ive been a waitress, so I know that everybody has bad days, and servers are rarely psychic. I expect things will smooth out as they get over the opening bumps. I also think that there are a couple of things we could have done when the runner arrived with our appetizers, we could have requested he send the server over for our order instead of waiting. And we could have specifically requested the port be served with dessert. I do wonder if there is a difference in service between the more formal area in back and the slightly more casual area by the bar facing Steuart.
Tonno Rosso is not within my regular spot" price range. But since its only a block from my office, what Im really going to do is - the next time I have a crappy day at work, Im going to go to Tonno Rosso, plop myself down at the bar and order a three olive martini, the potata fritta and live large!