Delfina is one of the most talked-about Italian restaurants in San Francisco. After months and months of stalling, we finally sat down to sample its goods.
Let's start with the wine. The first one we picked was the Lagrein "Steinraffler"- Hofstätter 1999 Alto Adige. Try saying that fives times in a row! It tasted thin to all three of us, and neither one of us can be considered a connoisseur (yet). Sensing our displeasure, the server brought out a Capezzana 2003 Toscana, a cabernet/sangiovese blend. This one was much better and had a wonderful aroma, but still didn't taste as complex as the California reds we were used to.
We started with a simple, clean salad of endive leaves drizzled with creme fraiche and sprinkled with juicy orbs of steelhead roe. The endive leaves formed canals that perfectly captured the liquid brine of the caviar.
What is a "Jewish-style" artichoke?, we wondered. Turns out it is a deep-fried artichoke (aka carciofi alla giudia) that is splayed out like a blooming flower just before being fried. Anything deep-fried and crispy is right by me: fried cheese, fried fish, fried mushrooms, fried potatoes, fried wontons, fried Snickers - the list goes on forever. But the fried artichoke leaves didn't quite cut it. They were a bit fibrous, kind of what you would expect after frying thin strips of bark. The lemon and the mint complimented the artichoke hearts nicely, however.
Our next course was the spaghettini with sepia, squid ink and marinated uni. The squid ink lent a subtle seafood flavor to the pasta, and like a seafood pesto it coated the noodles with a lovely dark shine. The uni was tiny though, the size of an eraser. We also tried the whole-roasted orata in aqcua pazza with white wine, olives, capers, and oven-dried tomatoes.
Delfina, you sort of lived up to the hype, but the real clincher will be your pizza.
3621 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110