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3621 18th St.
San Francisco, CA


Tuscan Rater

What kind of pedestrian diner doesn’t like a trattoria? Not me. When I go to Delfina, I know there’s good food afoot.

They had too few servers during this visit. Everyone was working hard but there were long gaps between simple beverage orders, bread and taking the food order. Coffee refills happened long after the last drops dried to form the little coffee rings on the bottom of the cup.

They were a little fuzzy on wine advice. There wasn’t a sommelier and the server did her best but wasn’t as through as I would have liked.

Their bread was a herald of good things to come. The batard is from Acme and the rustic country loaf is from Tartine (down the street from Delfina.) They delivered the bread from Tartine shortly before dinner so it was still hot from the oven. The extra crusty exterior and the moist, coarse interior was a reason to have 4 teeth. They serve it up with good butter and a little bowl of fine green and black olives. Yum.

Jewish Style Artichokes ($10):
I could choke these arty flowers down all day. The prickly bits are cut off, so all that is left is the yummy meat and delicate inner petals. They cook them in peanut oil and finish them in olive oil, shower them with mini ribbons of julienned mint leaves and serve them with wedges of lemon. These are a winner.
Fennel Salami ($7.00):
They make this tasty meat tube with a good balance of flavor. The texture is perfect due to the correct ratio of fat (lots) to lean. The high quality ingredients shine in this simple plate of thinly sliced charcuterie with radioactively giant caper berries which provide a tang that cleanses your palate for another meaty bite.
Deep fried spring onions ($5.00):
These little onions were sweet and crisp since they were so fresh. They tasted a little greasy, but I forgave them.

Monterey Bay sardines and fennel salad ($7.75):
Beautifully butterflied these little fish were gorgeous on their bed of fennel, cucumber and radish. The wild fennel oil was poured a little too generously, but it's overflow didn't soak into the veggies, so it didn't really matter. I wish that there was more cucumber and radish and that the fennel was sliced on a thinner setting of the mandoline, but that would just be getting overly picky.

Whole Branzio ($24):
Moist and succulent, this is a great example of how they take fresh, top quality ingredients and nudge out their flavor without getting too fussy. I savored every bite. They give you a little saucer of flaky sea salt to use at your discretion. And hey! check out the studs embedded in the black leather on the waitress!

Spring lamb with polenta and fava beans ($25):
These people know that you shouldn't cook lamb too much. It came bloody rare (yea!) My only complaint is that it had a high gristle factor, but hey, that means it was happily hopping around in the field before it became my dinner. The fava beans were great (even with a nice Barolo) I appreciated the nice helping of these (since you have to take these little guys out of their pods and then out of their little bean covers too - very prep intensive). The tasty polenta was topped with a fried sage leaf.

Buttermilk panna cotta ($7.75):
Silky and flavorful. This was as cravable as ice cream and as elegant as brulee. The candied kumquats contrasted beautifully with this gelled pearl.

Good. They use Peerless coffee and brew it to a good strength.

Delfina's a fun place to go with a group and order a bunch of items to share. Other dishes that I love include the lamb ragu, chocolate ice cream profiteroles and their sorbets.

You really can't go wrong unless you order something with Rabbit in it (those bastards!) Don't believe them when they say that they “have parking” their lot is a million miles from the restaurant (okay, it's not THAT far, but it ain't next door.) Okay, enough with my bitterness, Delfina is a wonderful restaurant worth the hike from the car.


Three carrots out of four.

Ritzy-chic city destination with excellent quality food. Good attention to detail. Lots of yummy small plates.



Delfina Bathroom Rating

Bathroom: two unisex rooms created a long queue. They are large, clean and well stocked but super-amplified music make them the noisiest restrooms you will ever find.

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