Cotogna, San Francisco
Posted by Foodnut.com
Cotogna (meaning ‘quince’ in Italian), offers a seasonally-changing menu featuring spit-roasted or grilled meats and game birds, wood-oven pizzas, house-made pastas, fresh local fish and seafood, salads, salami and cheeses in the warm atmosphere of the restaurant’s refined urban design. This is the sister restaurant to Quince, which is located next door. Our last visit was in the Summer of 2015
Cuisine – Italian
Chef – Michael Tusk
Location – Jackson Square
Decor, Vibe – Cotogna is not a large restaurant, a large hardwood communal table situated in front of the kitchen counter seating. A bar area is on the far wall. Large Windows open to the Street, exposed brick, large mirrors, wine glasses on a rack lined the walls. The place was packed, loud, and full of the well-dressed 30s to 50s set.
Fairly short Menu has classic antipasti, several primi options, fish, grilled items, 2 pizzas, and dessert.
Cotogna Signature Dishes – Pasta and roasted items.
Cotogna Food Picks:
Mojito ($10) was tall and strong with no mint leaves floating but flavor infused within.
Cotogna Country Bread ($6) rivals Tartine Bakery’s legendary bread. No need to wait! $9 gets you a full loaf to take home.
Ricotta de la casa with hedgehog mushrooms ($12) was an excellent dish that included some crispy bread that we topped with the warm ricotta cheese and super fresh mushrooms. We needed extra bread to contain a wonderful cheese combination.
Spinach Sformato with grana padano fonduta ($12) was a very creamy egg/creamed spinach like combination. This rich dish really needed some bread to balance itself. Do not hesitate asking the waiter for some!
Bucatini with pistachio pesto ($19) was a chewy eggless thick spaghetti type noodle pasta cooked very al dente. A nicely done dish that we can highly recommend.
Agnolotti del plin con sugo d’arrosto ($19) are tiny ravioli like pillows filled with tender meat. A signature dish and it shows.
Casarecce with lobster, tomato & nepitella ($23) was a little lacking in lobster and a bit salty. Nice al dente pasta and a touch of spice and some crispy bread crumbs tossed on top.
Wild Nettle Gnocchi ($16) was an excellent pasta dish, fluffy, soft, creamy in a spinach like green sauce. Great for vegetarians and foodies alike.
Pici with sausage Ragu and roast chestnuts ($16) featured a very very al dente eggless thick pasta with lots of cubes of meat. We really didn’t notice the roasted chestnuts. Portion size was on the small side.
Spit Roasted Pork with wild fennel and satsumas ($20) was an excellent dish with very juicy and tender pork that reminded us of Lulu’s. A must get for pork fans. We could have eaten a double serving.
Spit roasted arista di maiale ($28) or pork chop looked great and was fairly juicy in the middle. Their open fire spit looked awesome, forcing us to order something from it. Nice char’ing all around. Not as good as the big ass pork chop we had in Moody’s of Truckee the previous week, but still satisfying. The next day, as leftovers, it improved even further.
Margherita pizza ($15) was not on the menu but the waiter introduced it to us. This pizza was very thin, had no sogginess, had a very crispy edge crust but could have used a little more cheese on it.
Crème fraîche Panna Cotta with pine nut cookies ($7) have had very smooth Panna cotta and that wasn’t too sweet at and looked ravishing on the plate alongside couple slices.
Sierra Beauty Apple And Quince Crostata ($7) was a healthy dessert that resembled a cold Apple pizza. Thin slices of fresh apple and quince topped a flaky crust. This is not a dessert for those looking for something decadent.
OK: (Order if you like this dish)
Stone fruit, almond & arugula Salad ($14) looked fresh and lite, but could have been better with more of a sweet profile. It was a bit to savory aka salty.
Monterey Bay squid, grapefruit and puntarella ($12) was a disjointed dish with a mixture of decent squid blended in with some bitter greens. This was also a pretty small dish.
Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
Venetian style bigoli with octopus ($16) had reasonable pasta but a very fishy octopus that just did not belong in the dish.
Service – Cotogna had solid service with a friendly and knowledgeable waiter. Service did fade when the place got full. We had to wait a while for the pasta dishes to arrive. Salads, bread, roasted items arrived fast.
Value – Prices are in line with restaurants of this caliber. The prefix menu and wines are well priced. Pastas are small, so appetizers are necessity.
Alternatives – While the food here is very good, we find Delfina and Perbacco a slight cut above this restaurant.
Nearby restaurants include neighbor Quince, Chinese stalwart R and G lounge, and Spanish tapas restaurant Bocadillos.
Verdict – Cotogna brings an informal, accessible, and affordable twist to Quince with solid Italian food at reasonable prices. We can’t wait to come back and try some of the other spit roasted items.
$10 wine by the glass, very reasonable $40 bottles of wine. 4% healthy SF surcharge. 18% gratuity added parties of six or more.
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