Italian to a "T"

Zingari completes its classic theme with Tuscan touches

I tried in vain to stifle a tablemate's urge to order tiramise ($7), a reflexive tendency in him that reminds me of Dr. Strangelove's stubbornly independent arm. There was a ton of whipped cream, chocolate, and the espresso-soaked cake on the plate -- but mostly there was the smell of rum. "Like a distillery," I thought to myself. "If I light a match, I'll blow out half the block!" A sore temptation to my pyromaniac side, but I resisted by pondering instead my unshakable dislike for tiramise, no matter who makes it -- just as my friend who always orders it will eat the whole thing, whether he thinks it's good or not.

Zingari has some work to do before it can lay claim to being one of the city's better Italian restaurants (let alone one of the more affordable ones), but it does have the feel of modern Italy -- the effortless, understated stylishness; the professional, attentive service leavened with just the right pinch of friendliness. For those who've been to Italy, it's like sitting inside a memory.

Zingari Ristorante, 501 Post, S.F., 885-8850. Daily 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. & 5:30-10:30 p.m.

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