Restaurants & Bars 2

Zuppa Report

Paul H | Aug 15, 2005 04:45 AM

Zuppa opened seven weeks ago. I've spent the time visiting five times, trying a number of items from the menu, and watching the evolution of the place.

As one would hope, the food has improved and the service has settled into a comfortable professionalism, welcoming and friendly. The menu hasn't changed much, but prices have gone up a bit, though they remain very reasonable. (Appetizers were $6 to $9 and are now $6 to $11, while entrees which used to be $16 - $19, now range from $16 to $24).

There is seating for seven at the small but busy bar, and seating for 10 along a counter in front of open the kitchen along a long wall. Tables (both upstairs and down) make up the rest of the seats (a total of 97 - with about 30 upstairs and the rest on the main floor). Decor, befitting the space's history as the Dot com era Cafe Monk is strictly concrete and stainless steel industrial, but it has been softened a bit with some dark paint.

The current menu is reproduced below, of which I've tried the following:

Cured meats platter (grandioso $23 - everything) - good quality and a reasonable quantity.

Fennel sausage served in a cast iron skillet - spicy, tasty and a BIG portion.

Wild arugula with Parmigiano - excellent quality greens with a marked peppery taste dressed with basalmic vinegar. There was less Parmigiano on a later visit, but it was still sufficient.

Radicchio and hearts of romaine - an excellent salad, with lots of oil and vinegar dressing and garnished with hard boiled eggs. This is a must.

Grilled octopus salad with olives, potatoes and tender carmelized octopus pieces. Another favorite. One visit I was with a group and we were so impressed that we ordered multiple orders.

Lamb T-bone steaks with rosemary and shitake mushrooms. Two gigantic pieces of meat almost two inches thick, cooked perfectly to medium rare with a luxurious sauce. The portion is gigantic; this must be one of the best values in the city.

Zuppa of mussels, clams, prawns and rockfish - On the first visit, this was served in a gigantic ceramic crock and looked big enough to feed an army. It has since been demoted to a smaller bowl (no longer advertised for sharing). The fish is in a red sauce with a grain - perhaps farro, I didn't ask. I would rate this as an adequate effort, but I won't be trying it again.

Pan-roasted summer baby carrots - these were locally supplied and included both red and (heirloom) white carrots! I think they must have been oven roasted as the carrots had be reduced to a delicious softness and sweetness and were almost like carrot candy.

The wine list is exclusively Italian with 26 whites and 40 reds. Wine prices range from $25 to a top of $220 with most selections being below $40. There is also a wine "By the Glass -or- By the Brocca" program with glasses of wine ranging from $7 to $13.

Zuppa is a nice addition to the SoMa scene and provides really good rustic southern Italian food in gigantic portions at reasonable prices. It will be a regular visit for me.

Zuppa's Menu:

AFETTATI
Prosciutto Cotto - cured Tuscan ham
Salame Milanese - coarsely ground lean pork
Speck - cured and smoked bacon
Mortadella - lean pork with pistachios
Coppa - aged Calabrian salami
Soppresata - spicy aged salami

PIZZE
Matrimongio - radicchio and pancetta
Funghi - wild mushrooms
Vongole - clams and wild garlic
Di Bufula - gaeta olives and oregano

ANTIPASTI
Tonno Conserve Sott'olio - lemon-cured tuna with aromatic vegetables
Salsiccia con semi di Finocchio - fennel sausage served in a cast iron skillet
Rucula Selvatica con Aceto Balsamico e Reggiano - wild arugula with Parmigiano
Pepata di Cozze Pugliese - musseis cooked in black pepper
Insalata Fresca di Radicchio, Lattuga e Pecorino Sardo - radicchio and hearts of romaine
Pulpo alia Griglia su Palate Condite - grilled octopus

PRIMI
Ragu' di Maiale con Rigatoni, Broccoli di Cicio - country pork ragu with caciocavallo cheese
Fritedda di Legume Fresci con Trenne - farmers market beans with ricotta salata
Spaghetti coi Crema di Bottarga -bottarga puree with toasted breadcrumbs
Tagliatelle al Granchio con Ceci Verde - dungeness crab
Linguine Vongole e Gamberi al Cartoccio - prawns, clams and spicy tomato sauce
Spaghetti alia Cozze - mussels, fresh tomatoes

SECONDI
Costoletta di Maiale con Conserve di Arance - mesquite grilled double cut pork chop
Zuppa di Pesce Cuscusi - mussels, clams, prawns and rockfish
Polio alia Brace con Sugodi Erbe - mesquite grilled half rosie chicken
Acqua Pazza di Rombo e Aglio con Ratate - halibut braised with garlic fumet
Salmone alia Brace Soto la Salsa Salmorigilio - grilled wild salmon on summer greens
Bistecca alia Pizzaiola con Origano - bone-in ribeye with tomatoes and slow roasted garlic
Agnello Arrostitto - lamb t-bone with sugu di funghi

CONTORNI
Cucuzza - sweet and sour organic zucchini
Fuoco - roasted potatoes, gaeta olives, garlic and tomatoes
Barbabietole - variety of roasted beets and extra virgin olive oil
Mulinciani - marinated eggplant
Carote - pan-roasted summer baby carrots

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