The Castro has finally become a dining powerhouse in recent years, with restaurants like Frances and Starbelly moving in. And in the last year, new spots like Fable, Hi-Tops, Slider Bar, and Super Duper are bringing the variety.

The latest, Pesce, is a transplant from Polk Street and takes over the spot held by longtime Castro favorite 2223 Restaurant (and briefly Jake’s on Market). The first restaurant by Adriano Paganini, who went on to open Beretta, the aforementioned Starbelly, Delarosa, and Super Duper, Pesce had a loyal following in its tiny space on Polk. But in its larger space, Pesce is gaining new loyalists.

Hot Spot
When I visited on a Saturday night with some friends, the restaurant was so busy that we had to wait almost 30 minutes to be seated despite having reservations. The servers, though, are friendly and welcoming once you’re seated.

The restaurant layout hasn’t changed much since 2223, but it has an added back room, where we ended up sitting. The menu reflects the longtime Venetian seafood dishes by co-owner and chef Ruggero Gadaldi, and several of them are offered cicheti-style, which is the Venetian tradition of small plates or bar bites.

Bustling bar at Pesce had a simple design, with shelving that looked like it came from Ikea.

Bustling bar at Pesce had a simple design, with shelving that looked like it came from Ikea.

Because of this, our server suggested we order a few dishes to share. But because I was with a few people who had dietary restrictions, we just ended up ordering our own, which made for an unusual parade of small plates.

I ordered the gnocchi ($16), which had a heavy cream sauce, while the gnocchi itself was a bit on the large side. I wished the gnocchi was a lighter meal, but it was weighed down by the cream and milk-braised pork, which tasted like chicken to me.

My friends enjoyed their orders, like Craig’s bufalo mozzarella cheese with seasonal delicata squash ($8) or Jason’s braised octopus ($13), which was cooked to the right tender texture and served simply with lemon vinaigrette.

My main order of seared scallops ($14) was a little too seared for my taste but my dessert of tiramisu ($7) had the perfect balance of coffee and run with chocolate carried by the layers of ladyfingers.

The Last Bite
While Pesce doesn’t feel like an authentic Venetian Italian restaurant, its modern touches and seasonal ingredients are pitch-perfect for San Francisco’s hungry dining crowd. The serving size may be a bit small because of the cicheti influence (even the entrees), but it’s a solid addition to the growing Castro scene.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps
2.5snaps

 

Pesce, 2223 Market St., San Francisco. PH 415.928.8025. Open dinner daily from 5:30 p.m. (till 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday), and weekend brunch, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. pescebarsf.com

Pesce on Urbanspoon

Bufala mozzarella with butternut squash and arugula, $8

Bufala mozzarella with delicata squash and arugula, $8

Braised octopus, potatoes, celery and lemon vinaigrette, $13

Braised octopus, potatoes, celery and lemon vinaigrette, $13

Simply designed main dining room was packed on a Saturday night.

Simply designed main dining room was packed on a Saturday night.

Gnocchi with milk-braised pork, pancetta, and sage, $16

Gnocchi with milk-braised pork, pancetta, and sage, $16

Pan-seared scallops, field mushrooms, green onion, cream, tartufato, $14

Pan-seared scallops, field mushrooms, green onion, cream, tartufato, $14

Herb crusted tuna, tomato-puttanesca, soffritto, $16

Herb crusted tuna, tomato-puttanesca, soffritto, $16

One of my favorite desserts, tiramisu, $7, hit all the right notes

One of my favorite desserts, tiramisu, $7, hit all the right notes

5 Responses to Review of Pesce Restaurant in San Francisco

  1. The food here looks a lot of heavier than I expected. It’s crazy how even on a Saturday night, so many restaurants are as packed as they are. I’ve experienced this too.

    • Ben Ben says:

      Maybe it’s just what I ordered. LOL. I know San Francisco is crazy for food, but I think it’s a poor sign of the front house management when you have to wait so long even with reservations. And it wasn’t just my party. When I was told I had to wait, I was told a party before me was waiting 45 minutes even though they had a reservations. Geesh. Was that supposed to make me feel better?

  2. Tiramisu is one of my favourite desserts too. How was it? As good as it looked in the picture?

    • Ben Ben says:

      I loved the tiramisu, light and not super sweet, and just the right amount of liquor. It might have needed more coffee flavor, but otherwise a good effort.

  3. Carolyn Jung says:

    A 45-minute wait WITH a reservation? Oh my! Maybe it hasn’t ironed out all the kinks yet. Glad the tiramisu was worth waiting for. ;)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.