Best Appetizers - 2006
Luella is a hip, friendly, festive sort of place that makes you want to settle in at the bar, open a bottle of wine, and order all the appetizers on the menu. Part of it is the cool, subtly lit ambience, and part of it is the view of the Hyde Street cable car out the big front windows. But most of it is, well, the appetizers. The fritto misto, for instance, cloaks the vibrant flavors of fennel, radicchio, and lemon in a nimbus of air and crunch. Crunchy little tacos come filled with creamy tuna tartare and a spicy lime-mango salsa. Lighter-than-air polenta fries are as addictive as slices of the cracker-thin pizzetta bubbling with fromage blanc and shards of sweet prosciutto. The usually ponderous salt cod brandade is transformed here into a subtle, sensual treat, while the rich flavor and crisp texture of the sweetbreads are strikingly complemented with mint, frisée, jicama, and pomegranate seeds. Oh, and the entrees aren't bad, either.