Best New Restaurant - 2000
You're dazzled the moment you walk in -- by the light, airy ambience, the sweeping bay views, the soaring ceilings, the rich draperies, the dramatically backlit bar, the thickly embroidered banquettes, and the deep-blue Mediterranean shade that informs not only the restaurant's color scheme but its menu as well. Chef Thomas Ricci has absorbed the width and breadth of the Mediterranean Basin, from Algiers to Istanbul, taking the unifying ingredients of fennel, eggplant, tahini, olives, pomegranate, garlic, garbanzos, and mint, adding his own California sensibility, and creating dishes rich with zest, languor, and earthly pleasures. Viz.: an array of flatbreads adorned with duck confit, eggplant caviar, or spinach, garlic, and cambazola; sweetly seared diver scallops with fennel-filled ravioli; sherry-grilled beef with crisp wedges of semolina polenta; phyllo-wrapped Jerusalem artichokes with ricotta and red-tomato jam. All of the platters are geometric works of art -- especially the Chocolate Melt-Away, with its scoops of pistachio ice cream spired with isosceles triangles of bittersweet chocolate surrounding a rich chocolate ganache. Lapis' mood and menu alike are dramatically delicious.