Meditations

Da Flora


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Forget calzones. Put your pepperoncini aside. Da Flora, a small venetian-style ostaria in San Francisco, does Italian food with such freshness and imagination that you’ll never look at a plate of fettucini the same way again.

Da Flora is famous for two things: their gnocchi, and their italian wines. I’d propose that that list should be expanded, at least to include the house-cured anchovies and the occo busso. Indeed, it would be easy to get carried away and add almost everything I’ve had here to my favourites list, as it has, at least to this point, been superb.

Take for example our appetizer, thinly sliced porchetta with a tuna aioli. Yes, you read that right. Tuna, and pork. While it may sound a bit bizarre, the combination was perfect and well-balanced – indeed the match was so well-suited that it seemed almost natural. Balance was evident in our other starter, the radicchio salad, with boiled egg, bacon, and balsamic reduction. Excellent.

A great first course too often leads to dissapointment. Like a first kiss on a highschool date, it inflates expectations, and re-directs blood flow. Sometimes our dreams of fulfillment are placed too impossibly high to possibly be matched by a main course. Not in this case. Everything we tried was spectacular. The fettucini with anchovies was mouth-wateringly savoury. The orrechetti with rapini was fresh and bold. But the show-stopper was the occo busso. This is one of my favourite meals, and I am not sure if I have ever tasted better. It was rich, smoky, and had a touch of citrus that brought it firmly into the realm of perfection. My mouth is still watering.

Online reviews of Da Flora often talk about indifferent service, but we didn’t see a sign of it. Sometimes I wonder what people consider to be good service. If you are looking for a bubbly smile and a hand-drawn heart on your cheque, I’d suggest your local Red Robin. When I go out for a meal, I expect my servers to be knowledgeable. I expect them to have a sense of timing, and I expect them to be at least somewhat friendly. Our server was all of these things. She picked us out an excellent wine to go with our meals, answered all of our questions, and brought us a box of cookies at the end of the meal for good measure. Indifferent, indeed.

The only question that remains is when I will be back. I was told that next year’s batch of house-cured anchovies will be ready in the early summer. Anyone want to meet me in San Francisco in June?

Da Flora is located 701 Columbus Avenue in San Francisco, CA 94133; (415) 981-4664

Da Flora, a Venetian Ostaria on Urbanspoon

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