The Dogpatch – a neighborhood springing up amongst the warehouses in the Southeastern edge of San Francisco – has seen a lot of newcomers in recent months, including a chocolate cafe, new cheese shop and wine bar.
One of the constants for the area has been Piccino, a café that opened more than six years ago and has been serving up thin-crust pizzas and seasonal ingredient-driven dishes to regular crowds ever since.
Along the way Piccino has kept up with the changing times, moving to a larger and brighter space in 2011 (including a new separate coffee bar) and hiring a new chef (Jacob Town, formerly of RN74).
A counter seat
I visited for a weekend lunch with my friend Craig, who works in the area, and we got a couple of seats at the large counter that surrounds the open kitchen. Even during the lunch hour, there were a lot of chefs in the kitchen working on various dishes, from the pizzas to the salads to the baked goods (Piccino has a solid bakery program).
The menu is simple, with a few dishes that reflect the season. There’s a real light touch to everything, and that’s reflected in the dishes that come to the table. A tagliatelle ($13) with wild mushrooms, for example, had a light sauce that barely kissed the pasta and mushrooms on the plate.
A starter of farro verde ($9) – a young version of the healthy grain – was lightly dressed, served up with crunchy cauliflower and pine nuts. And a salad of little gems ($11) were brightened by citrus and a light blue cheese dressing.
Piccino specializes in thin-crust pizzas, which is ubiquitous now in the city. Craig ordered what he called his “Frankenstein” pizza, because he asked the restaurant to combine the margherita and funghi pizzas but remove all the cheese since he’s avoiding dairy. His special pizza ($13) had a nice crust that held up nicely to the sauce, avoiding any limping in the center.
The last bite
Although it was an overcast day when I dined there, you could tell how the space could be filled by sunlight in the typically warm Dogpatch area. With Piccino’s light and simple fare, this neighborhood spot is a welcoming place for a casual and refreshing meal.
Piccino, 1001 Minnesota St. (at 22nd), San Francisco. PH: 415.824.4224. Open Tue.-–Wed., 5–10 p.m.; Thu.–Sun., 11 a.m.–10 p.m.; closed Monday. Reservations and major credit cards accepted. piccinocafe.com
Michael Bauer of the San Francisco Chronicle also recently visited Piccino and seemed a bit more excited about the place than me.
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