Stand-Up Double

We prefer the Italian to the steak at this glamorous Italian chophouse

We finish with a shared trio of panna cotta, an oddly grainy chocolate mocha version alongside a dense pistachio and a forgettable fruit-based one — we're told it's mango, but it doesn't taste much like anything.

I can't say that DiMaggio's hit this one out of the park, exactly, but I admire the setting, the amazing collection of vintage photographs of DiMaggio both on and off the field, the excellent service, the nice list of wines (with some unexpected and interesting choices by the glass), and I'm looking forward to returning with my parents.

They're also impressed with the room, especially the two huge modern chandeliers, which we admire from our huge semicircular booth. Our starters include two crisp crab cakes, improved by a champagne butter sauce drizzled on one side with chili oil, the other with basil, and a tiny salad of mizuna and frisée; a massive portion of pepper-rubbed carpaccio with a lot of good beef flavor, topped with salt-packed capers and flaked Reggiano, quite the bargain for $10; and a surprisingly large Margherita pizza, eight slices, an ordinary crust topped with good mozzarella, lovely toy box tomatoes, and shredded fresh basil.

A sea of tables under the gaze of Joe and Marilyn.
Angela Poole
A sea of tables under the gaze of Joe and Marilyn.

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Joe DiMaggio's Italian Chophouse, 601 Union (at Stockton), 421-5633, www.joedimaggiosrestaurant.com. Open for dinner nightly from 5 to 11 p.m. (lounge opens at 3 p.m., bar menu served from 3 to 5 p.m. and 11 to 1 a.m.). Reservations accepted. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: valet $10. Muni: 15, 30, 39, 41. Noise level: moderate to high.

Chilled seafood platter $18 a person, two-person minimum

Linguini with clams $18

New York steak $38

Crab cakes $13

Margherita pizza $10

Braciole $24

Porterhouse $49

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We continue with a delightfully tender and tasty veal braciole, two rolls of the pale meat rolled around prosciutto and provolone, perched atop soft polenta in a fresh marinara sauce, and a 24-ounce sliced Porterhouse that my father and I split, which generously boasts a whole potato gratin and a full portion of vegetables on each plate. Again, I wish I'd been warned about the inevitable sweetish red wine sauce, which I think masks rather than enhances the essential qualities of the good meat (dry-aged by DiMaggio's Midwestern Angus purveyors, but nobody seems to know for how long).

We'll skip over the desserts, a chocolate "soufflé" that's really a molten chocolate cake and a tricked-out cheesecake that sounds better than it tastes. Dessert here needs work.

To my surprise I find myself more pleased with the Italian part of DiMaggio's name, rather than the Chophouse. Which means that you can enjoy its posh, glamorous setting for less than you'd think possible.

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