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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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CultureFood & DrinkGood Taste: Sorella introduces the Venetian way to graze

Good Taste: Sorella introduces the Venetian way to graze

Our resident taster takes on cicchetti, a new snack service at Acquerello’s casual sister restaurant.

You’re tuning in to Good Taste, a weekly tasting menu of local food finds and experiences to put on your plate. 

Acquerello, the two-Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurant that was established in 1989, opened a casual restaurant called Sorella (Italian for “sister”) on Polk in December. While I’ve never had the chance to experience Acquerello, I’ve heard much praise for their handmade pasta dishes, so I was extra excited to be invited to dine at Sorella in order to show you what they’ve got cooking there.

Sorella’s chef de cuisine Denise St. Onge previously worked at SF’s iconic vegetarian restaurant Greens, which is a personal old-school favorite. Her husband Seth Turiansky is the chef de cuisine at Acquerello, and both kitchens are guided by the chef and owner of both restaurants, Suzette Gresham. I am so happy to see more women leading kitchens in San Francisco in 2022.

Cicchetti snack: Anchovy toast with cultured butter and black truffle
Sausage-stuffed olives Ascolana is also served only at the bar

If you decide to check out Sorella, I recommend going on the same two-part adventure that they unfurled for me. Start by making a reservation, but go there half an hour or hour before to experience the bar-only finger foods on the cicchetti menu. I’m completely here for the cacio e pepe-fication of everything, and Sorella’s cacio e pepe potato chips are Lay’s light and totally right. We chomped on a bowl of those while St. Onge prepared a rich slab of anchovy toast with cultured butter and black truffle and a bowl of sausage-stuffed olives Ascolana. You could definitely just graze at the bar and be happy.

Blood orange mocktail made on the fly
Sorella Sour with Rye, Averna, Creme de Violette, lemon, sage syrup, bitters and egg white

I don’t drink much and almost always ask for a surprise mocktail at a bar or cocktail-forward restaurant. This time, I got a beautiful blood orange and citrus soda, while my friend enjoyed the Sorella Sour (Rye, Averna, Creme de Violette, lemon, sage syrup, bitters and egg white).

Kumo Gold oysters with sea bean mignonette and finger lime

After enjoying cicchetti, we moved to the main dining room for a round of seafood dishes, including grilled razor clams with green garlic pesto, and oreganata; kingfish crudo, served with burnt orange gelée, red onion, Sicilian olive oil and fried zest; and Kumo Gold oysters with sea bean mignonette and pops of finger lime (the latter is also available at the bar). We then decided to just lean heavily into the pasta section of the menu instead of ordering noodles and a main course.

Egg yolk tonarelli in tomato sauce with Fort Bragg sea urchin, tuna heart bottarga, chives and breadcrumbs
Squid ink linguini with spicy lobster brodo, yellow tomato and fines herbes

There’s definitely some soulful pasta-whispering going on at this restaurant. We kept the seafood party going with a bowl of egg yolk tonarelli, which looks like a thick spaghetti, in tomato sauce with Fort Bragg sea urchin and cured tuna heart bottarga. A spicy lobster and yellow tomato linguini goes goth with an injection of squid ink darkness. St. Onge usually has a pasta special in addition to the menu, and on our night, she served a lush short rib agnolotti. 

I tapped out before we could get to dessert, which is unusual for a sugar monster like myself, but there’s always next time.

Keep noodling over at Tamara’s site California Eating.

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