557 Valencia St. (between 16th and 17th St.)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Locanda is a new Roman style Italian restaurant from the Delfina crew. This restaurant is one of the major openings this year. We patiently waited approximately 3 weeks for them to iron out any kinks.
Why did we dine here? – We love Delfina and could not wait for this place to open.
Summary – Locanda serves up solid Italian food in a cutting-edge energized setting. We found the meat dishes stronger than the pasta. The appetizers are excellent but the prices are higher than expected.
Insider Tip – Make reservations or wait for the communal table
Cuisine – Italian Roman
Chef – Anthony Strong (Delfina)
Location – Mission District
Opened – April 2011
Decor, Vibe – Locanda is a modern restaurant with an elaborate tiled ceiling, 3-D tile on the wall, cool retro lighting and stools, and a special wood burning oven called Dante, of which only one other is located in the USA. The place was packed and loud, of course there was a line before they opened.
Menu includes 12 different starters, 10 different pastas, 5 charcoal grill dishes, and 5 side dishes. The menu changes often.
Signature Dishes – To be determined
SMOKE & SPICE ($10) Gin, Antica, a float of Islay, served on Rock with Citrus Peel was a beautiful looking and potent cocktail.
JEWISH STYLE ARTICHOKE ($6/ea.) Was excellent. A deep fried one battered crispy thing of goodness.
FRIED MURDOCK’S DUCK EGG – guanciale, dandelion ($11) is their tribute to the soft cooked egg. This egg had a nice soft runny center.
PIZZA BIANCA- w/ Fra Mani Mortadella ($7) focaccia-like Roman-style flatbread and not really a pizza as most people know what, had some very crunchy bread along with high-quality mortadella. This is more of a mini sandwich.
Frankly they give you this type of flat bread for free, so you really don’t need to order this dish.
Deep fried lamb brains and artichokes ($12) was more deep fried goodness. We worried about getting mad cow disease, but what the heck. The brains taste just like sweetbreads.
Radiatore “Pecora E Pecorino” lamb ragu, pecorino, mint ($17) was a very good circular pasta with balanced flavors. The mint was not overpowering thankfully.
GUINEA HEN LEG al SPIEDO ($21) was roasted on the rotisserie and very tender. Portion size was on the small side though.
BAVETTE STEAK – radicchio trevisano ($25) was cooked to our desired level of doneness and a tender tasty, well portioned piece of meat.
Lamb Scottaditto anchovy & coriander ($26) were 2 excellent lamb chops, but way too tiny! We could have used to more at this price. The waiter did a good job explaining how the name came from burnt fingers.
Snap peas ($8) with mint, spring onion was fresh, crisp, and delectable.
Erbette ($8) chard with garum, pine nuts was overly lemony, but that was okay with us. They need to tone this down.
OK: (Order if you like this dish)
Mojito ($10) was excellent and well balanced, but filled with so much crushed ice that we should have sent it back!
TONNARELLI CACIO e PEPE – pecorino, black pepper, basta ($14) was a peppery pasta which was just too cheesy.
Bucatini All’amatriciana guanciale, tomato, pepperoncini, pecorino ($17) was okay, also pretty peppery, with a sour tomato sauce that tilted the dishes’ balance.
Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
Service – Service was reasonable, with a very knowledgeable waiter.
Value – Prices are on the high side, we expected them to be slightly lower than we encountered. The prices are about the same as Delfina, and one step away from fine dining.
Verdict – Locanda is a slight twist from Delfina, serving up Roman style Italian food in a contemporary environment. We found the grilled items unexpectedly stronger than the pastas, although the appetizers were quite solid.
Locanda had 4 wines on tap, we tried two of them ($9) and found that they tasted just fine. This is an welcome trend. We did not try any desserts because nearby Bi rite creamery was one of our agenda.