1722 Sacramento Street (Near Polk)
San Francisco, CA 94109
Acquerello Restaurant (which means “watercolor” in Italian) is an upscale Italian restaurant in the Polk Gulch Area of San Francisco, just off Van Ness. For over 20 years, they have been serving traditional dishes from all regions of Italy in a lighter, more contemporary style. Co-owners Giancarlo Paterlini and Chef Suzette Gresham-Tognetti work together to provide an unparalleled Italian dining experience.
They earned one Michelin star for the last three years and are the only starred Italian restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area. We have passed by many times over the years and figured it was time for a visit. Acquerello has a eight course Chef’s Tasting menu (For the entire table) as well as 3, 4, or 5 course meals. You can choose from any of the sections, and can even concentrate on ONE if you so wish.
Decor, Vibe – Housed in a former chapel, the restaurant has a very unassuming front. The main dining room is dimly lit and has vaulted ceilings with warm Mediterranean colors of gold and terracotta. Small but formal 45 seat dining room, with private rooms available. They even have hand bag tables like France’s best restaurants. The place was filled with well dressed, older foodies, mostly in the 40 – 60 range. Many snugly couples celebrating a special occasion.
Menu Pictures (Click to zoom into any picture)
Prix Fix menu
A refreshing complimentary Cocktail of Orange juice, Vermouth, and bitters.
Nice bite sized amuse bouche of deep fried artichoke and olive with some spicy tomato sauce.
Smooth fruity amuse bouche of Cantaloupe puree.
Lamb’s tongue with celery, hearts of fire, salsa verde and black Gaeta olive oil is an acquired taste for many. Good sized portion with a sweetbread like taste and a soft tender texture with a hint of gaminess.
Delicate Parmesan budino, tomato guazzetto sauce, and fried eggplant is their signature dish. A very tasty fluffy parmesan pudding that is almost souffle like. This is a must order item.
Ridged pasta with foie gras, scented with black truffles and Marsala is a signature dish and a must get. The al dente tube pasta was swimming in a decadent foie gras based sauce. Slightly sweet, this was a unique dish we have never tried but would order in a heartbeat.
Potato and pancetta filled tortellini with arugula and roasted mushrooms was very good. The pasta was al dente with the freshness of the chantrelle mushrooms really standing out. A very nice hint of truffles in the sauce also helped.
Lobster panzerotti in a spicy lobster brodo with “Diavolicchio” was a super dish. Panzerotti is usually a small fried calzone. Small lobster chunks sat on top of the egg pasta and were bathed in this lobster broth that was not too spicy. This is one luxurious dish.
Rabbit filled agnolotti with Taggiasca olives and prosciutto was a very nice pasta with some tender rabbit. The sauce was on the salty side though. Perhaps the prosciutto leached too much salt into the broth.
Grilled Walu over braised celery, clams and mussels in ‘Acqua Pazza’, which usually means lightly herbed broth used to poach a fish. Two nicely cooked pieces of fish with clams, mussels, and scallops. What a combination with the included ball like pasta.
Veal loin over creamy polenta, chanterelles and veal sweetbreads was cooked to a medium and was tender and extremely juicy. One of the better renditions of Veal. Again, some really fresh mushrooms. This dish had little bits of sweetbreads for those who like them.
Grilled short rib of American Kobe beef with baby squashes and horseradish essence was superb. Cooked to a perfect medium rare, the meat just melted in your mouth. Portion size was on the large side ensuring we would probably skip dessert. Nice looking petit squash.
Warm pancetta wrapped Figs with 25-year old balsamic vingegar and mascarpone-goat ricotta cream. Very fresh figs but not enough pancetta or vinegar to accent the fruit with a savory flavor. The cheese cream was a little overwhelming when eaten with all the items.
Aged Carnaroli risotto with pork belly and Gravenstein apples was a very hearty risotto. Tons of cubed meat and very fatty pork belly was present, almost too much. The apples helped break up this meat fest but only so much. We had some risotto at Boulevard the other day that hit the spot.
Breast of Grimaud Farms duck with bing cherry composta, orange lentils and ‘foie gras bomb’ looked great. The duck was rare and chewy even though we ordered medium rare, so be careful. Duck quality and quantity were never in question. Cherry is always a perfect accent to duck. Nice little foie gras pate ball rolled up and textured with some nuts.
Vanilla panna cotta with Gravenstein apple and blackberry had some really creamy panna cotta, but the lower blackberry cream was far too sweet.
Complimentary Mignardises – Huge Tower of home made Pistachio Biscotti.
Nice mini bag with Italian candies.
Acquerello Restaurant was a small restaurant with very good professional service. You can see waiters constantly circling around. They did a poor job of water and bread refills though. Acquerello’s food quality is high, making this one of the top Italian restaurants in San Francisco. The $60 3 course meal is a good value, allowing for a nice varied selection of dishes but leaving us with little room for a dessert. This restaurant is a great place for Italian food and wine fans, especially those celebrating a birthday or anniversary.
Extensive 61 page wine list with moderate markup, glasses from $10, bottles from $40, wine pairing available. Paid parking lot is across the street.