Authentic Italian in SOMA?

When it’s a nice day in the city, Pdho and I will sometimes take a walk down 3rd Street to the mall to grab some lunch and do some shopping. We always pass La Briciola on the way and make the same comment. “What is such a nice looking restaurant doing here?” The location is so random being that it is sandwiched between a Chinese restaurant called Rainbow Way and an abandoned office space, not to mention that the sidewalks in front of the restaurant are often frequented by homeless bums and crack heads. However, it looks so simple, clean and pleasant inside that it intrigued us to check out it out and so we did.

I called for a last minute reservation on a Saturday night, and we ended up joining a rather full restaurant of diners. Unfortunately, given the last minute nature of our dinner plans, I didn’t remember to bring a camera, so unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures. However, the food was so very darn good that I had to still write up an entry detailing our experience.
There were a number of really tasty-sounding dishes, but we were able to narrow it down to:
  • Caesar Salad
  • Sfogliatine con Gamberi e Asparagi
  • Ravioli di Cernia
  • Caciucco di Viareggio

The Caesar Salad was made with romaine lettuce, shaved parmigiano, and croutons. It was a good salad, and I don’t have anything really bad to say about it…. but it was a regular old Caesar Salad.

The Sfogliatine was a puff pastry filled with asparagus and shrimp and served in a crab-flavored reduction. It was absolutely wonderful, almost heavenly! Puff pastry anything is usually pretty good, but the creamy crab reduction moistened up the fluffy, flaky puffness of this particular pastry in a way that it didn’t get too soggy, but it added just the right complement of flavors to the shrimp and asparagus mix. It was so good that we took the bread and cleaned up every bit of sauce off the plate. It was delicious!

The next course was a seabass-filled ravioli served with a lobster reduction. This was equally delicious and reminded me a lot of the ravioli that I had Trattoria Monti in Rome. It actually was very similar to that same dish. The seabass filling was fantastic, and ravioli pasta was cooked to just the right tenderness. It is too tough of a call to pick one over the other, so I’ll just say it was equally as delectable as the Monti version.

The last dish was a bouillabaisse of crab, calamari, mussels, clams, shrimp, salmon, and swordfish. The broth was absolutely great and the seafood was all very well-cooked especially the salmon and swordfish. Often times, I’ve found the seafood in these stews to be overcooked to the point that the shrimps are so dry, the fishes just shred into pieces, and the calamari are chewy. This preparation was very well done.

Overall, the meal was absolutely fantastic. I loved every dish that came across the table and with the exception of the Caesar Salad, each dish deserves 4 ½ stars. I definitely feel that I appreciated the meal much more having just come back to Italy, and I would even say I had a more trained tongue given the recent Italian food tour. So I could truly appreciate the authenticity of each dish which was eventually confirmed when the hostess told us that everyone from the chef to all the waiters were native Italians. I really consider it a hidden gem of a place as the food was absolutely excellent, the ambiance is simple but classy, and the service was just as good as you would find in high end-restaurants. I highly, highly recommend it, and I definitely plan on going back and taking pictures of the wonderfully delicious food.

PAFO Ratings for La Briciola:
Price 4 stars
Ambiance 3 ½ stars
Food 4 ½ stars
Overall rating 4 stars

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