Portlandia" on IFC? Sometimes it's a little out there, but mostly I find it pretty entertaining. Probably because half the time it could be taking place in San Francisco.
There's an episode where a couple demands to know everything about a local organic chicken they are about to order at a restaurant, and then decide to drive 30 miles to the farm to see where it came from. And another one called "Brunch Village" makes fun of people waiting in ridiculously long lines just to eat at the new hip restaurant.
That's sort of how I feel about restaurants in San Francisco sometimes. Flour + Water is one of those restaurants. After getting nominated for James Beard Awards and receiving several write-ups in national publications, it's become almost impossible to get into the place. *Almost.* They do reserve half of the restaurant for walk-ins, which means there is almost always a line. But when my friend Geno was in town a couple months ago, we discovered you can get right in if you get there right when it opens. (Just for the record, we were there about 5-10 minutes before opening on a Sunday, and we were at least 10 people back already).
However...the best thing about our visit is that it indeed lived up to the hype. The worst is building up a restaurant in your head, waiting in line, and then being un-wowed. (Mama's in North Beach had this effect on me). But thankfully, that did not happen at Flour + Water.
As a walk-in party, you have the choice of the communal table or the bar. We snagged a couple of bar seats and immediately started drooling over the interesting Italian menu. I've heard some people say things like: "It's pizza and pasta..how amazing can it be?" Well, I'm here to tell you...pretty damn amazing.
It's not your typical spaghetti and meatballs joint. We got pastas like squid ink chitarra with clams, radish and chili and a capellacci dei briganti with rabbit polpettine, ciopollini and mustard greens. (And yes, we had to google half of that). The pasta was expertly prepared and the exotic flavors and ingredients all did a little happy dance in my mouth. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of our lovely Christmas Eve Dinner at Mozza in L.A.
We also shared the pizza salisiccia with garlic, sausage, tomato, capers, olives, chili and smoked caciocavallo. This was a little more straight-forward, but equally delicious. They change the menu often, so I know they offer things like pork belly and bone marrow on their pizzas, but I really enjoyed the more traditional take. The smoky cheese was the perfect touch. And as you can see....it came complete with the slightly burned crusts, just like Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix. I love that.
For dessert we got the chocolate budino with sea salt. I've said it before and I'll say it again...this is one of my favorite dessert combos. It went perfectly with the French Press we ordered as well. Overall, I thought it was a fantastic meal. I definitely wouldn't wait in line for hours just to try it...but if you can get a reservation or go right when they open, you won't be disappointed!