Anniversary Eats: Cotogna (San Francisco)

Kim and I celebrated six years of “marriage” 1 this weekend with a trip to our favorite city by the bay. Each of our four meals on the road was memorable, so I’m sharing.

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One of the things I love about San Francisco is that you’re never far away from something good to eat. So instead of wasting a meal on something boring, you can walk down the street and find something that excites you.

After paying our tab at Brindisi Cucina di Mare, I pulled up a recent list of recommendations from friends for a lunch spots in the Financial District. David (The Cured Ham) mentioned a couple in North Beach, so that’s where we headed, first stopping at Bix. The place was packed.

We walked a block further to find another crowd at Cotogna, but they had a table open. After a quick glance at the menu, we knew we had come to the right place.

First, the wine. The back of the menu listed dozens of imported Italian wines, which was a little intimidating at first. Every wine on the list is sold at $40 a bottle, so price doesn’t distract you from picking out something that pairs with the meal. We asked the waitress for a recommendation, and she steered us toward the Cortona syrah; a heavier, fruit-forward wine with notes of tart, young fruit.

For dinner, Kim ordered gnocchi with duck; it didn’t photograph well, but it tasted incredible—the gnocchi were like little cloud puffs. At the recommendation of our waitress, I ordered skirt steak with fingerling potatoes and green garlic (pictured at top). Skirt steak is a difficult cut; what impressed me about the dish was not that this was fork-tender, but that the chef didn’t use a heavily salted marinade, which is what I usually find. He let the flavor of the meat speak for itself.

We also ordered carrots roasted with anise and rooftop honey. When I asked about the source of the honey, the waitress pointed up, saying, “It comes from our rooftop. We keep our own bees up there.” As simple as it was, this may have been our favorite dish.

Dessert was bomboloni—think donut holes, with sliced kumquat and sweet milk to dip them in. Yum!

Overall, an incredible meal, and a memorable anniversary dinner. The lesson: Trust your friends first, and Yelp second.

Up next (and last): Hot City Barbecue.

1 We asked a friend and missionary to marry us in front of our families, but due to a misunderstanding with the County of Fresno, he could only go through the motions. So we were married legally at the courthouse 11 days later.

3 Responses to “Anniversary Eats: Cotogna (San Francisco)”

  1. Luke
    June 18, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    Thanks for making me hungry! Anise carrots sound amazing.

  2. David Scheidt
    June 20, 2011 at 5:11 am #

    Bomboloni. Nothing beats fresh doughnuts. I’m pleased to see you had a good time. It makes you wonder why more Fresno restaurants don’t use Bob’s Honey and yet Cotogna has a beehive on their roof. Crazy.

    • james
      June 20, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

      Indeed, David. We have a handful of restaurants taking advantage of local ingredients, but none harvesting their own foods, that I’m aware of. one day…

      Thanks again for the great recommendation!

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