Incanto, San Francisco CA
Zach had been looking forward to dinner at Incanto all week, and he left very, very happy. Not only was dinner great, but manager Tony introduced us to chef-partner Chris Cosentino, known for offal cookery. Incanto is quickly becoming famous as one of the most inventive “nose to tail” establishments.
We began with a platter of various meats: pate di campagna, wild fennel orange salami, prosciutto cotto, mortadella, and porchetta di testa (head cheese). The non-meats included roasted garlic, pickled micro carrots, chard stems, and mustard. This was an impressive show of Incanto’s sister company Boccalone that produces the cured meats. Every item was exceptionally fresh and flavorful, and Zach feels that the mortadella was the best he has ever had.
Chef Chris’s nod to a 1980s ad campaign addressing the dangers of drugs came to us as half a calf brain on a slice of house-made brioche with nameko mushrooms. The brain was like a velvety soft and mildly flavored liver in terms of texture and flavor. The brioche was very buttery, and Zach made sure to tell Chris that the pastry chef is doing a great job.
Like lunch, the asparagus here was from Zuckerman. Incanto uses products harvested and processed through sustainable practices, such as local sourcing. It’s a fast growing trend that many Bay Area restaurants are starting to embrace. This simple salad was a tasty side for our entrees.
August’s dad ordered this flaky, moist fish. He ate the whole plate while we weren’t looking, he thought it was that good. He commented particularly on the quality of the bass filet and the green olives’ role in the balance of flavors.
August liked her vegetarian plate. Large artichoke hearts were mixed into the risotto, which itself was cooked thoroughly. The rice wasn’t al dente but it wasn’t mushy either. She doesn’t like hard risotto so this was a great texture for her. The artichoke chunks went well with the texture, and there were also fried artichoke slices sprinkled over the top. Due to the preserved lemon there was a very mild lemon flavor, but it was more of a mouth feel after having swallowed a bite.
Zach really liked the house-made pasta he ordered; it had a good, firm texture for being handmade, as it wasn’t overly cooked (fresh pasta cooks quickly). The ragù was very rich and meaty with fresh pork, onions, tomatoes, garlic, and a nice array of bold spices. The broken duck egg yolk added to the depth of flavor. The egg yolk was perfectly soft while there was no uncooked white, so it was cooked superbly with attention to timing.
We are really looking forward to seeing Chef Chris again at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Cooking for Solutions weekend in May, and we’re happy we got to introduce ourselves to him in his house tonight. We are also planning on making reservations soon for the Leg of Beast dinner and the Nose to Tail dinner. Offal cookery is something that you need to work yourself up to trying, but you will find some delightful bites that will surprise you!