Occupation: Stay-at-home Mom
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: SPQR
Reviewed SPQR: Monday, February 25, 2013
I have been to SPQR for dinner over twenty times. Each time has been a wonderful experience and I have felt like I have gone on a culinary adventure. The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming with interesting artwork on the walls. There is always a lovely host/hostess to greet you, and the wait staff and sommeliers are top notch. All staff is incredibly knowledgeable about the ingredients on the menu and the wines on the extensive Italian wine list. They make sure you are happy with your food and wine and that your glass is always full!
It’s not always easy to get a table so I would suggest making a reservation. They have about fifteen tables, as well as bar seating and a fantastic chef’s table. The chef’s table is great because you get to see the food being prepared and you can converse with the sous chefs.
The cuisine is Italian, however, the menu is eclectic and the presentation has a French flair. They always use seasonal ingredients and have a way of taking something basic and putting a fantastic spin on it. For example, the Caesar salad I had recently was not your everyday Caesar with creamy dressing, sliced anchovies and parmesan shavings. Instead, their version had hand picked fava bean leaves dressed in vinaigrette with whole, fried anchovies and a delicious cheese crisp. Another example is the tiramisu; instead of presenting a piece on a plate, they served it deconstructed in a glass. It was a pretty presentation and fun to eat because I started at the top, tasting the ground espresso and mascarpone and then worked my way down to the ladyfingers. Delicious!
Items from every section of the menu are exciting to try, but my absolute favorite part is the homemade pasta! Everything, from the chocolate spaghetti with black truffle butter to the buckwheat tagliatelle with cider and bacon braised suckling pork, is AMAZING and comparable (if not better) to pasta in Italy! The best pasta dish I’ve ever had there was homemade pasta with lamb ragu. The braised lamb was in a flavorful tomato based sauce and had a rich, smooth texture.
The recent recipients of a Michelin star for 2013 prove time and time again that they offer more then a great meal; they give guests a delightful and delicious experience. This is a special spot to go if you are looking to relax and enjoy five-star service, Italian inspired cuisine and unforgettable Italian wines.
Occupation: Food Photographer
Location: San Jose
Favorite Restaurant: Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food
Reviewed SPQR: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Nestled in the Pacific Heights, SPQR is a place I’ve wanted to eat at. It’s small, intimate, romantic and they pipe in great 80′s music all night long! Whoever chose this restaurant has a good knowledge food, a sense of adventure, but also a great pallet for fine food!! We had no trouble finding metered parking on a Sunday for our reservations at 6:00, we even walked in about 10 minutes early and they were able to seat us right away. We were there until about 9:00pm.
Whenever I see a liver mousse on the menu, I have to try it! Not only do I love liver, but I love the texture of mousse buttered on top of a piece of grilled crusty bread. The portion was perfect for sharing for two, as they served four nice slices of grilled bread.
The suckling pork ‘porchetta’ was very tasty. They used the pork belly and rolled it into the familiar ‘pinwheel’ I’m accustomed to seeing when I see and have eaten porchetta. There was a bit blood sausage on the plate. I don’t have a lot of experience with blood sausage, but this set the bar pretty high! It was very flavorful with a lovely smokiness. Along with the pig ears, which they crisped up (which I enjoyed crunching on), the total dish was a fantastic “tasting.” When you have such rich flavorful ingredients and flavor combinations, you only need a “tasting” as to not overpower your pallet or fill your stomach to the brim!
The chocolate spaghetti was fresh. I think if you are going to eat pasta, eat it fresh from a place that makes it fresh daily! It not only absorbs the flavors better but it’s a whole other texture than what people are accustomed to. The cauliflower crema, black truffle butter and pecorino tartufato married beautifully and was very comforting to the pallet. I think truffle can be overused and overpowering but the balance between flavors were spot on! Again the portion is perfect for one considering the richness in flavors and textures.
Instead of a traditional sweet dessert we opted for the cheese plate which came with 7 different cheeses. from hard to soft from mild to stinky, accompanied with a beautiful caraway cake, candied pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts and a half glass of wine; it was the perfect way to end the meal.
Our service was IMPECCABLE from start to finish. Our waiter was incredibly knowledgeable on the menu as well as the wine selection and answered all of our questions regarding the menu, combining flavors as well as which region, grapes and what made our wine so special. Top notch! I would highly recommend SPQR and would gladly return.
Occupation: Olympic Champion / Cookbook Author
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Pompei’s Grotto
Reviewed SPQR: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
First off, the staff at SPQR was super-friendly and unpretentious from the moment we walked in the door. SPQR is located in a small cozy space with low lights and quiet music. The environment allows for intimate conversations and makes a great place to go on a date.
I noticed a number of diners sitting at bar alone in front of the open kitchen. It had the kind of vibe where you wouldn’t feel awkward doing so, especially since the chef was constantly chatting up the patrons sitting at the bar.
Right after we sat down, the restaurant sent over two glasses of sparkling Rose. We followed that shortly after with a bottle of Vermentino wine.
Our first course was a fava leaf Caesar salad with a 6-minute egg, buttery croutons and salty fried boquerones. Next we had the Dungeness crab and quinoa salad with baby beets and salsa verde. Both were excellent. We ordered two main courses, both pastas. One was smoked fettuccini, sea urchin, smoked bacon, and soft quail egg and the other was my personal favorite: black trumpet mushroom pasta with marsala braised duck ragu. Both had distinct and very different tastes. I feel the interesting and innovative ingredients used in their pastas are what really set this restaurant apart from others.
Our dessert was bread pudding with hazelnuts and chocolate ice cream.
The wait staff was very attentive and always checking on us.
The bill was $95 per person for two appetizers, two entrees, and one dessert with a bottle of wine, which cost $48.
I would definitely recommend this restaurant and go back again. The experience fits my criterion for a great night out: nice people, good customer service, great ambiance, and delicious food.