Singing for Your Supper

Mixing arias and pastas at La Traviata

Dessert at La Traviata is a distinctly flat finale: a selection of creamy cakes that mostly resemble tiramisu. (There's that, too.) The mocha cake ($3.50) didn't taste much like either chocolate or espresso, but it was delectable with whipped cream: an orgy of empty calories.

We agreed on the way out that the food at La Traviata, while sometimes sharp and even memorable, is no match on the whole for that at, say, Bella Luna or Bacco. The restaurant's ambience, on the other hand, offers a quiet beauty and grace few other places can come close to matching. For that reason alone, La Traviata will always appear on a good gastronomic map of the city. But if the kitchen ever really gets it together, it will appear with a gold star.

La Traviata, at 2854 Mission, serves dinner daily except Monday from 4:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. Call 282-0500.

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