Sunday, September 02, 2007

Farina - San Francisco, Ca

Hey hey check it out! I made it to a new restaurant before it was reviewed in the Chronicle! Sweet!

The big question mark that sticks out at me about Farina is.... do we really need another fucking Italian restaurant? Especially in San Francisco. Especially in the Mission. I mean, really? Really?


Admittedly Farina claims a "Genoese" bent, with waiters in jeans (which comes from the original French word, bleu de Genes or the blue of Genova for those of you keeping score at home) and t-shirts bedecked with Genoa's flag.

Fine. So it's northern Italian. Ligurian. A rose by any other name. Whatever. It's Italian. Antipasti, giant plates of meat, and some pasta. Whoopdifreakindodiddlyoo. Fuck Italian food and the oily uninteresting horse it road in on.

That being said, Farina was pretty damn good.

First, props to Farina's extensive, deep, and well-priced wine lists. Almost entirely Italian, sure. But I like Italian wine. Extensive selection of wines by the glass, quarter-liter, and half-liter carafe as well. Half-liter's a good amount of wine. More wine should be sold like that at restaurant. Let it be done.

First up girlfriend Charlie and I had the roasted vegetables antipasti. Fennel, eggplant, onion, and tomatoes oven-roasted and served room temperature. Flavors were nice and full and the vegetables weren't swimming in oily oily Italian olive oil. The tomatoes in particular were great.

Pasta course. I had the taglietlle with boar sugo. The pasta was nutty and al dente. The sugo was rich, tasty, but loaded with salt. Like, retarded salty. One of the saltiest dishes I've had. Charlie's handkerchief pasta with walnut-gorgonzola pesto was excellent.

I'm not a fan of Italian restaurant entrees. I know this is largely because of how American Italian restaurants attempt to shoehorn Italian-style dining into the established conventions of most American dining. We try to make entrees and appetizers out of a dining style that favors multiple single-item courses. I like a diverse well-articulated main dish of multiple flavors more so than a dish of protein, sauce, and a couple vegetable accents.

But Farina's entrees were good. I had yellowfin tuna seared very rare with fresh heirloom tomatoes and fresh burrata with balsamic reduction. Simple and fresh. Charlie had the red snapper with with something I can't remember and can't place because Farina doesn't have a goddamn website yet. But it was good.

Dessert proved a highlight. Gianduia-filled fried tortelli dusted with sugar and served with three sauces--a dark roasty espresso sauce, a bright concentrated blackberry sauce, and a forgettable orange sauce. Crispy, warm, chocolate-y, hazelnut-y, and taste-y.

Farina's space is sleek and stylish, a little bit over-conceived for my tastes. Outdoor tables jut out into the neighborhood, a private dining room sits upstairs near the uber-chic restrooms, and apparently, much to neighbors' chagrin, Farina's going to start rooftop dining as well. We'll see if that happens.

Service was present and attentive. Not overly engaging or solicitous, but definitely there. Bussers were great, keeping tables clean and reset between courses, circulating with fresh bread and keeping water glasses full.

So it's a nice restaurant with well-made food, stylish space, excellent pastas, and great wine list. I think it's rather characterless and pointless in the over-saturated Italian restaurant scene, and if it keeps making enemies in the neighborhood Farina could be short-lived. If you like northern Italian it's probably worth a detour.

3560 18th St
San Francisco, Ca 94110
Reservations 415-565-0360 or


charlie w. said...

characterless? so sad. i mean, aside from the weird flour-baby photo, i think the inside is rather charming, in a high-design sort of way.

David J.D. said...

Characterless for restaurants of that type in San Francisco. Well laid out, nicely appointed, but I didn't get a sense of individuality or distinction. It almost TOO well-designed. I think that's why the baby-flour photo was weird. In a less "clean" restaurant, it wouldn't've been as jarring.