Best Antipasto - 2001
Remember when an Italian meal meant spaghetti and meatballs, a candle stuck in a Chianti bottle, and a preliminary platter of cold cuts and pickled cauliflower? Emma, an imaginative little hideaway in the grand old San Remo Hotel, defies North Beach tradition with an antipasto distinct from the cellophane-scented norm. Chef Mark Lusardi's "before the food" platter changes daily, depending on what's fresh, and might include such creations as sweet peppers braised with fennel; smoky, onion-edged garbanzo beans; or red, green, and orange tomatoes marinated in a basil vinaigrette. A fine place to sample them is at the bar, which was shipped around the Horn over a century ago and offers a sheltering sense of pre-quake grandeur along with excellent versions of both mojito and martini.