Nothing But the Best

Uva Enoteca brings quite a bit of dolce vita to the Lower Haight.

We're sated, for all practical purposes. But we came to play — and we're reluctant to leave this pleasant place, which has almost completely filled up in the hour or so we've been happily grazing. We're tempted by the roasted asparagus with lemon aioli ($5), the tuna crudo ($8.50), and the caponata, arugula, and montasio cheese piadine ($7.50) — hell, we're tempted by the whole menu — but we end up trying both the hot dishes: orecchiette with wild boar ragú ($14) and polenta with shrimp, fava beans, and Padrón peppers ($14).

The hearty, rich pasta turns out to be oven-baked, which lends layers of texture to the dish, from the crisp almost-blackened bits up top to the tender morsels below. The sweet, soft polenta comes with firm pink shrimp, bright-green beans, and — in this case — too-blackened remnants of the peppers, both sweet and hot, which we so love this time of year, but prefer still green and supple.

Boris Nemchenok, one of the co-owners of Uva Enoteca, comes from an S.F. foodie family (his cousin's husband runs Cinderella, one of our favorites, and his mom works at Guittard). He spent five years working at Mario Batali's Otto in New York, and learned his lessons well about the importance of great food in a welcoming space. Co-owner Ben Hetzel, late of the Dining Room at the Ritz, runs the kitchen; his wife, S.F. bar chef Camber Lay, invented the wine-and-beer cocktails. We're dying to try the Milele Frizzante, with mead and peach bitters, and the In Bocca al Lupo, with Lillet Blanc, prosecco, basil, and chiles.

A light meal of olives, thinly sliced cured meats, and vino.
Jen Siska
A light meal of olives, thinly sliced cured meats, and vino.

Location Info


Uva Enoteca

568 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Haight/ Fillmore


Uva Enoteca

829-2024, Open daily 5 p.m.-midnight. Reservations accepted for parties of five or more. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: street, difficult. Muni: 6, 7, 16, 22, 71. Noise level: moderate to high.

568 Haight (at Fillmore)

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Over a flourless chocolate torta ($8), an insufficiently almondy almond cake ($8, and the only thing we tasted all night that didn't delight us), and a strawberry sorbetto with chunks of rose-scented amaretti and a bit of balsamic vinegar ($7), we try to puzzle out the Latin sayings chalked alongside the diagram of a fat pig on the blackboard by the entrance. "Nunc est bibendum" we already know — "Now is the time for drinking" — plus it's conveniently translated below. But what does "Nil satis nisi optimum" mean? Our server thinks it's "Work hard, play hard," which sounds okay. But it turns out it's the one time she's let us down all night. It means "Nothing but the best is good enough," which makes even better sense in its context. We have a real crush on Uva. We only have one quibble: We wish it were open all day long.

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