Fino (San Francisco, CA)

624 Post Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
Phone: (415) 928-2080
Reservations: Call Restaurant
Hours: Bar Open Daily 5:00 p.m.; Dinner Daily from 5:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m.

We visited Fino at the insistence of one of our traveling companions’ parents, who swear by the place. The night of our visit was cold (and unfortunately, became rainy). We were admittedly suspect of Fino, particularly when we saw that it was attached to a hotel in a fairly touristy area a couple of blocks from Union Square. We walked through an alley-like walkway to the back of the hotel, following the signs to Fino’s entrance and hoping for, at least, a respite from the rain.

Upon opening the door to Fino, we were pleasantly surprised. Fino is warm, cozy, and inviting. A welcoming fireplace warms the plaster walled dining area, glinting off of a beautiful mirrored antique bar. As you walk down the stairs into Fino from the street above, you truly feel as if you’ve entered a Tuscan cafe, rather than a hotel-adjacent eatery in the midst of downtown San Francisco.

We were seated next to the fireplace, and were warmly welcomed by both the host and our waiter. Ravenous and cold from our unexpected trek through the winter rain, we quickly selected wine and started our meal with an order of Patate Fritte (Kennebec fries). We were greeted by a mound of hand cut fries generously tossed with garlic, parsley, truffle oil, and Parmesan. The truffle sauce on the fries and the garlic in the accompanying aioli were a tad heavy handed. Our other starter, the fried calamari, was perfectly crispy, and the accompanying house made marinara sauce was bursting with tomato flavor and was perfect in its simplicity.

Although the meal started a bit unevenly, the entrees exceeded our expectations. The Ravioli con Gamberi featured fresh ravioli stuffed with sun-dried tomato, artichoke, basil, and mozzarella. The pasta was accompanied by prawns, shallots, garlic, spinach, and porcini mushrooms in a rich cream sauce. Despite the number of ingredients involved in this dish, it managed to be delicate, understated, and delicious.

Another pasta and seafood dish we sampled was the Linguine con Gamberi e Cape Sante. Prawns and scallops were sauteed with spinach, white wine, and fresh basil, and tossed with fresh linguine. The kitchen permitted the prawns and scallops to remain the showcases in this dish, with the remaining elements subtly enhancing the sweetness and freshness of the seafood. The scallops were large, tender, and succulent, and the prawns were mild and sweet. A bite of citrus pulled the entire dish together.

The Vitello all Saltimboca was also quite tasty. The veal medallions were topped with prosciutto, mozzarella cheese, and avocado with a delicious Marsala sauce. The veal was perfectly cooked and tender, and enhanced by the saltiness of the prosciutto. The fresh vegetables and roasted potatoes accompanying the dish, unfortunately, were basically throw-away sides, and lacked the flavor or care given to the veal.

The final dish we sampled was a house made pizza with Italian sausage and mozzarella cheese. The pizza was elegant in its simplicity, with a generous amount of the flavorful sausage, crispy crust, and oozing melted mozzarella. The light handed scattering of tomato sauce let the fresh ingredients shine, making for a rustic, uncomplicated pizza.

Fino was a pleasant surprise. Although the meal was uneven at times, our meal included several elegant, tasty dishes that permitted the fresh, simple ingredients shine. Fino’s space is cozy, warm, and an unexpected respite from the San Francisco streets. The prices were reasonable, and the service was welcoming. Fino is the sort of homey, Old World place whose simplistic charm could easily lure diners back again and again. The overall meal, ambiance, and hominess make it worth overlooking the occasional stumble.

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