There were a few other flubs, though none as galling — an overdressed salad of frisée, sweetbreads, and sautéed mushrooms ($10.50); undercooked Italian doughnuts for dessert ($7), which were supposed to be custard-centered but just tasted like raw dough; and an oversalted, dry chicken breast cooked under a brick ($20).

But most of the food demonstrated the same solid technique and classic forms — the culinary equivalent of an Armani jacket. A pumpkin sformato ($8.50) countered that squash sweetness with a crisp disk of baked Parmesan and a sharp-edged Parmesan cream sauce, to which Alioto had added a drop of truffle oil (he does like the truffles, but treats them with a graceful restraint). Plush-textured octopus tentacles ($8.50) were tossed with cubed potatoes, a shower of microgreens, and enough lemon juice and olive oil to come off bold but transparent; the dressing never obscured the octopus. Alioto's osso buco ($26) was braised until it transformed into a blossom of delicate meat unfurling from a central bone. His most ornate dessert was also the most successful: a puddle of housemade ricotta, its sweet cream flavor the source of its lingering charm even though the fresh cheese was drizzled with local honey and candied pistachios and garnished with mandarin segments and sheets of baked filo.

This Maple Leaf duck breast would earn an A+ in cooking school.
Kimberly Sandie
This Maple Leaf duck breast would earn an A+ in cooking school.

Location Info



1550 Hyde (at Pacific), 775-1550, 5:30-9:30 p.m. Tue.-Thu.; 5-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 5-9 p.m. Sun. Closed Mon. Muni: 10, 12, 27, Powell-Hyde cable car. Wheelchair-accessible, though packed. Noise level: Moderate to high.

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It will be interesting to see, as Seven Hills grows into itself, whether Alioto takes off in more fanciful directions — the raviolo hints at it, and so does the ricotta. But he's starting off by demonstrating his command of the classics. Which is not a bad place to start.

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My Voice Nation Help

Good point about the wine not being reviewed. I actually live just around the corner from seven hills and I ate there two weeks ago. I was actually quite pleased with the chicken and doughnuts when I went, and the service was welcoming and warm. As a local to the russian hill area, I would go back to seven hills. really homey, and as the reviewer called out, very good food.


The funny part about this review is that the wine list never got mentioned. You would think that a professional food and wine critic would at least acknowledge the wine list that was created by two legendary and well-respected MS in the world. The wine list and how the wines pair with the food is normally an important part of a food review, at least that's my experience, and to leave it out doesn't say much.

Good notes on the service.

To me, this review felt a bit rushed.

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