One of my absolute favorite restaurants in the neighborhood is La Briciola, a quaint, little Italian place just a short 10 minute walk from my place. The food is delicious and the restaurant itself is nice and clean. I can’t recall exactly how we happened upon this place the first time, but I think Pdho and I must have passed it several times when running and after returning from our European vacation a couple of years ago, we were slightly craving a little bit of Italy. Unfortunately, Pdho forgot his camera, so we didn’t have any pictures from the meal, but we’ve been meaning to return, because we felt the food deserved to be captured. Pdho’s cousin was in town for business, so we decided that this would be a great place to take him for dinner.
Although this puff pastry appetizer is a little bit different than the first time I had it, it’s still equally delicious. It is a mix of shrimp and asparagus in a cream sauce served in a puff pastry on a tomato and crab reduction. It’s absolutely delicious. The puff pastry is flaky and buttery, and the filling is so tasty. I highly recommend this dish, and I’m glad it’s still on the menu.
The Caesar Salad, although not that special, was very tasty. The croutons were fresh and crispy and the dressing had a nice flavor.
Much to no one’s surprise, I had to order the Fried Calamari. I really like this dish for it’s perfectly battered and fried preparation of the calamari rings. The calamari is still quite tender, and the batter is nicely seasoned. The Marinara sauce was a perfect complement to the dish.
Although I had high hopes for this dish, I have to admit that it wasn’t as well-executed as I hoped it would be. It was a crostini trio which included a chicken pate, porcini mushrooms, and sausage served on top of grilled polenta cakes. I thought it was interesting to use polenta instead of toasted baguette, but unfortunately, the cakes just ended up soaking up all the sauce and juices from the different toppings, so it turned out tasting kind of mushy.
Although the blackness of this squid-ink risotto may look a little unappetizing, it actually tasted very delicious. Pdho kept comparing this to the squid-ink pasta from Delfina which I admit was probably better, but I still think this dish was delicious. There was quite a healthy serving of risotto and good amount of calamari, but I think it would have been nice if there was more than one piece of scallop. Nevertheless, it was definitely a heavy, high-carb dish, but I liked it.
Pdho’s cousin ordered this dish based on the waiter’s recommendation. It didn’t look as composed as a typical lasagna with its multiple layers of pasta, cheese, tomato sauce and fillings. Instead it was more like a thick pasta dish. I took a bite, and I really liked it. The tomato sauce was bechamel-based, and the seafood included shrimp, salmon and swordfish. It was quite delicious.
Pdho ordered this bouillabaisse-like dish. It was a mix of crab, calamari, mussels, clams, shrimps, salmon and swordfish in a herb-infused tomato-based broth. It was quite tasty and the broth was so rich in seafood flavor that you could drink it all up…. which Pdho eventually did.
Desserts were just okay in my opinion. The Creme Caramel was a little to rich and heavy, and the Tiramisu was a little bit too soggy. We were all pretty stuffed at this point though, so we probably couldn’t full appreciate the desserts appropriately.
Overall, the food here is still just as tasty as I remembered it, and I’m glad I could go back to enjoy it again. I worry sometimes about how long this restaurant could survive only because the location does not seem very ideal. There is no doubt that the food is fantastic and everyone would surely enjoy any meal they had here. However, it’s located on a pretty random part of 3rd. St, so it’s not very well-lit and quite close in proximity to a collection of homeless folks that camp out near the the Freeway 80 overpass. There isn’t a lot of foot traffic, so people would only come if they knew the restaurant was there. It’s been almost 2 years already, and the restaurant still seems like it’s surviving, so I hope this will continue. It would be a pity to lose a good restaurant. Everyone knows SOMA deserves it.
489 3rd Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
PAFO Ratings for La Briciola:
Price 3 stars
Ambiance 3 stars
Food 4½ stars
Overall rating 4 stars