Tiny Finds

April 22, 2014

Yes, the food in San Francisco is good. There are some excellent spots with truly delicious things to eat. Yet, there are a lot of things about New York restaurants that I miss–namely tiny little spots that are perfect for a Wednesday night dinner. We had our favorites–Mercadito, Westville, John’s of 12th Street, Snack Taverna, Bar Pitti– places that got crowded, but you could always almost get in without waiting for a table and have a really good meal that wasn’t too expensive. They are restaurants that aren’t buzzy anymore, there was no thing about them, they were just good, and in little ways, the same way that everyone has their own personal New York, they were ours. Here, it feels like all of the places that we like–Frances, Flour + Water, of course Delfina, Bar Jules, Domo– are all the places that everyone else likes, too. And some are huge, like Nopa, and they don’t have that quick, mid-week dinner vibe. Maybe we just haven’t been here long enough to find them. (Also, why is there no San Francisco Westville? It’s sad, and should be remedied).

All of this is to explain why I was so excited to find Pizzetta 211. Someone had recommended it to me months ago, and it took being in the Richmond around dinner time, and not in the mood for Pho or dumplings to land there, and I’m so glad that we did.

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It’s just a few tables, maybe six two tops, and a few seats at the counter, which divides the small kitchen (really a metro rack, a few pizza ovens and one work space where the pizzas were assembled) from the dining room. The pizza was great (mine was a chewy crust bursting with Spring– asparagus, mint, peas, arugula, and an assertive drizzle of Calabrian chili oil), and more than anything it felt like those small spots in New York that we left behind. It was tiny, there was no thing, there was no wait, the whole thing took forty-five minutes and less than $40 and it was perfect. Oh, and there was some style there, too, a nice aesthetic going on, but that’s a subject for a different post.

Side Note: Speaking of little perfect gems, today seems to be the day that everyone’s talking about Buvette–an amazing little spot in the West Village. Read about it here, and here, and here. If someone wanted to send me Jody Williams new book, I wouldn’t be sad about it.

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California

July 22, 2010

I was in California for the last week, mostly in Los Angeles visiting Marshall and then in San Francisco for the weekend visiting Lindsay. LA is always fun–laid back with good food, a lot of time outdoors hiking and running in Griffith Park. I got to see Marshall and Heather’s house for the first time. It was formerly owned by one of the members of the band 311 and they definitely had some whacky decor choices. I wish I had taken more pictures–for example–of the Little Mermaid Bathroom. A few steps down, every surface is covered in blue and turquoise glass tiles. Marshall and Heather have done an amazing job making it theirs, with a screening room, a bright kitchen, and a peaceful pool in the back.

We started off with a hike, and then later than night went to the Barnsdall Art Center for their weekly wine tasting. Marshall is now the co-president of Barnsdall, and he and his friend Avidan started and run the wine tastings. It was packed with families, all of whom brought elaborate picnics. The setting is beautiful and as we launch into wedding planning, I wish that there was someplace like that right in the middle of Manhattan.

If Cookie still existed and I still worked there, I would definitely include Barnsdall. It’s also such a nice community event. So much LA schmoozing. They also attract food carts–a great Vietnamese one and also Lets Be Frank, Alice Waters’ fearless hotdog truck.

Saturday morning I jetted to San Francisco to help Lindsay move. It’s been five years since I was there, and it was nice to be back and jog my memory again. I really feel like I should live there at some point in my life. Saturday night we hung out on the patio of Lindsay’s old apartment and then Sunday we got up and went for a run along the marina, to the farmer’s market for some breakfast, and then drove to Napa. We visited a few vineyards, and aside from being incredibly convenient and easy to get to, it was stunning. Breathtakingly gorgeous.

I already can’t wait to go back, ideally with a bicycle. The wine was great, too. Monday I went back to LA where Marshall picked me up and we went to a heavily Hispanic area where the tacos were UNBEATABLE. The salsas, red and green both, were perfectly fresh and spicy, the tortilla chips were just fried, the cojita cheese was salty. Everything about it was heavenly. It’s one thing we definitely don’t have here in New York.

To continue with the eating (there was running and insanely hard pilates in the middle) we had dinner on Tuesday night at a new restaurant owned by Ilan Hall (of Top Chef fame) called The Gorbals. The menu featured bacon-wrapped matzoh balls (as Marshall said and Scott added on “Bubbe’s Bacon Nightmare: A Hipster’s Revenge”). The food was mostly really good and the restaurant itself was in this whacky hotel/ballroom/apartment building/movie set hybrid space that was a little bit grand and a little bit rundown. On the way to the men’s room, Marshall discovered this television set. Creepy, no?

We rounded out our last day with a drive to Venice, a walk along Abbott Kinney, a stroll along the canals and a final stop at Watts Towers. Our detour almost made me miss my flight, but it was worth it.

Now, after a layover in Vegas and a pretty uneventful, if rather sleepless redeye back to New York, I’m home.