Monday, October 17, 2011

Incanto, San Francisco, CA

 If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that we at TIGBG love nose-to-tail eating.  So when we had to go out to San Francisco a couple weeks ago, we made a reservation at Chris Cosentino's ( place Incanto, in the Noe Valley neighborhood.  The restaurant is on a quiet corner in a residential area, and is warm and inviting inside.  We were really looking forward to our meal because of the strong porky aroma emanating from the kitchen.

There were two appetizer specials that night, so we ordered both of them -- trotter cake with foie gras, served with a red wine reduction;  and testa (head cheese) ravioli with pig's blood in the pasta, in a sauce that had cinnamon, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, dried fruit.  The trotter cake was the best dish we had that night.  You can't go wrong with a lobe of seared foie gras.  The cake was a bit like scrapple with more meat - chunkier (I got a nice chunk of cartilage in one bite).  I appreciated the use of grapes and wine - a nod to the local region.  The ravioli, though, were a bit disappointing -- I didn't really get any offal-ness - no satisfying funk from the head cheese or blood.  The waitress had described the sauce to us as "kind of like a mole" so that was disappointing as well.  It had none of that concentrated richness of a mole - I mean, yes, it had cinnamon, and pumpkin seeds etc., but not ground in, reduced for hours, had it been a true mole.  One thing the Top Chef judges have dunged people on was calling a dish something that it really wasn't.  If they hadn't said "mole" I wouldn't have been disappointed that it wasn't one.

Because we still had five more days in the Bay area and wanted to conserve our appetites, for our main dishes we each order a half portion from the pasta section rather than one of the larger meat dishes, though we did go all pig (after all, it is their specialty).  Redneckhunter went traditional with handkerchief pasta with pork ragu.  I went with the Corzetti, cotechino, mizuna & pangrattato.  First off, I liked that I didn't know what any of those words meant!  Here's what it was - corzetti are flat round pasta (Incanto's were imprinted with their piggy mascot), cotechino is an Italian sausage sliced thin like salami, mizuna are mustard greens, and pangrattato are breadcrumbs.

 I thought Redneckhunter's was just ok - personally I think he makes a better pork ragu (but then again we get some really delicious ground pork from the Asian market in Plainsboro).  I liked mine, the slight bitterness of the greens and the texture of the breadcrumbs were nice, and I got how they were going for similar flat and round of the sausage and pasta.

For dessert, we also ordered the special which was an ice cream float in strawberry verbena soda.  It was light and refreshing.  All in all, we had a good meal, but not one I'm going to dream about.  Though they celebrate the pig here, it's a far cry from the temple of pork indulgence of the likes of Au Pied de Cochon, by any stretch.

1550 Church Street
Noe Valley, SF

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