TABLEHOPPING: A trio of restaurant openings — Calvados, cheese cones, and craft beer, represent! — plus a new spot for loco moco, Spammy fries, and poke bowls.
Some interesting openings this week, starting with Trou Normand (140 New Montgomery, SF. www.trounormandsf.com ), inside the historic Pacific Telephone Building in SoMa. It's from Thad Vogler of Bar Agricole, so yeah, there will be awesome booze there. And good ice. Cocktails include Armagnac, Cognac, and Calvados. (Be prepared to throw back a traditional shot of Calvados, a French brandy, in preparation for or during a big meal to "make room" with "a Norman hole" — hence the name, Trou Normand).
It will eventually be an all-day affair, so you'll be able to swing by whenever for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — but just dinner for now, hold up. The menu includes many meaty items, ranging from caraway sausage to housemade charcuterie by chef Salvatore Cracco, plus polenta, white wine–braised artichokes, and other vegetable dishes, because it's not good to just have meat all the time, you know. The Deco space is so stylish, with lots of custom artistic touches (all the art on the walls is by women artists), incredibly tall windows, reclaimed marble for the tables and bar, dark oak floors, and tufted booths the color of tobacco. How'd we get so lucky to have this space? Seriously. It's a sexy one.
North Beach has a new neighborhood spot for Neapolitan-style pizza, Il Casaro (348 Columbus, SF. www.ilcasarosf.com ), and some bona fide Italians opened it: chef Francesco Covucci and Peter Fazio, who are also behind the nearby Vicoletto. Casaro means "cheesemaker," so there is definitely some dairy in the casa, including the rarely seen raspa dura, a cow's milk cheese (young Lodigiano) that is shaved off the wheel and then served in a cone. Cheese cone, hell yes.
There's also housemade fior di latte mozzarella, burrata, and a menu full of "cibo da strada," the late-night street food you find in Italy (think arancini and crocchette). Plus there's the sure-to-be-awesome panuozzo: pizza dough sandwiches stuffed with broccoli rabe, Italian sausage, and scamorza, or one with ground pork, pepe rosso, fennel seed, and french fries (the best late-night eats, that panuozzo). As for the pizzas you'll see coming out of the wood-fired Stefano Ferrara oven, they're made by a pro pizzaiolo, and feature classic Italian toppings ($12–$18). No need for pastas here, but you'll find plenty of Italian wines. Say cin cin Sun–Thu 12pm–11pm and Fri–Sat 12pm–12am.
Craft beer (we're talking 43 on tap). Deep-fried Monte Cristo sandwiches. An adventurous location. The cobwebs of the former and looong-vacant Fulton Street Bar have been blown away to make room for Barrelhead Brewhouse (1785 Fulton, SF. www.barrelheadsf.com ), a brewery and restaurant from owner-brewer Ivan Hopkinson, previously assistant brewmaster at Park Chalet. Check out a sleek mezzanine, a honking torpedo that holds all the taps, and a bunch of brewing equipment (soon actually brewing, but not just yet). Stoners will appreciate a fun touch: quirky items embedded in the lacquer on the reclaimed wood slabs. The kitchen plans to stay open nightly until 1:30am, pretty damn cool, that. (Chef Tim Tattan was previously sous chef at Monk's Kettle).
Anyone wistful for a little taste of Hawaii will want to scoot on over to the to-go window at Butterfly on the Embarcadero for their next lunch. The window is now Sammy's Aloha (Pier 33, The Embarcadero at Bay, 415-864-8999), with Sammy Kong Kee stuffing the awesome housemade milk buns with kalua-style pork and BBQ chicken (just $8). Rice bowls in effect (ahi poke and loco moco), noodle bowls, salads, bao... And whoa, the Spammy Fries ($5) come with fried sushi rice and salmon roe. All the ingredients are quality, and nothing's over $11. Mahalo. Open Tue–Sun (11am–3pm).