Best New Restaurant - 2004
The main attraction of this small, creamy-walled, urbane dining room is the seasonal Italian-inspired cooking of chef/owner Michael Tusk (late of Chez Panisse and Oliveto; his partner and wife, Lindsay, worked at Oliveto and Boulevard). The menu changes daily, but you'll always find impeccably fresh, inventive salads (cardoons and Jerusalem artichokes have appeared among the ingredients), possibly paired with chicken-liver crostini or pork belly, among the starters. House-made pasta is listed as a separate second course, but you can order one of the variations as an entree or share several among your party. The single best dish we've had here is extraordinarily flavorful roasted chicken cannelloni. Main courses can be surprisingly earthy and rustic in flavor, despite elegant presentation: house-made cotechino sausage with roasted turnips, Roman-style oxtails, pork braised in milk, roasted lamb served with a potato gratin. Desserts such as Meyer lemon souffl? and quince and apple tart are a refreshing way to end a meal at one of San Francisco's new culinary stars.