Thanks for the offer but sorry I can’t make it then, either!
I would hit up a local watering hole . Who knows , you have the golden ticket . Just ask .
There are times when you’ve enjoyed a bite of food that is so great, you almost don’t want to try it again, for fear that it’s not as good as before and your impression of a restaurant becomes tarnished. So there was initially some hesitancy in thinking about returning to La Ciccia, this quiet, seemingly simple Sardinian restaurant in an unassuming part of town. After all, the last time we were here, it was something sublime.
As we walk in, it is as warm and charming as before. Run by the husband-and-wife duo of Chef Massimiliano Conti and Lorella Degan, Lorella welcomes us as an Italian grandma might welcome her grandchildren in from the outside cold to sit and enjoy some food at dinner time.
Calamareddusu Arrustiusu cun Frabiga (Roasted Monterey Calamari, Basil Oil, Greens):
Perfectly cooked, tender Calamari with a light chew. There was an incredible infusion of flavor where sometimes Calamari and Octopus might come off as bland (with just a taste on the outside), but somehow Chef Conti performs magic on the Calamari. The Basil Oil was a perfect complement and the simple Greens were extremely fresh and vibrant, tasting like they were just delivered from the local farmers market (not an afterthought).
(Special) Rigatoni & Veal Ragu (Veal Ragu, Prosciutto, Olives, Ricotta Salata):
A fitting dish for La Ciccia: Slow stewed Veal Ragu that imparts such a depth of flavor that can only be gotten from this type of cooking. It is satisfying. It’s meaty. Perfectly balanced in flavors, it is one of the best Ragu Pastas I’ve had since Leo Bulgarini’s! It is that good, and better than any of the variations on Meat Ragu at more celebrated places like Felix.
Spaghittusu cun Allu Ollu e Bottariga (Fresh Spaghetti, Spicy Oil, Garlic, Cured Fish Roe):
And then it arrived. The dish that when we ate it last year, was so stunning, so transformative, that I was scared that it was merely a dream; an illusion that would never reach the same heights again. Taking a bite…
If you were ever skeptical or curious about what Japanese Chemist Kikunae Ikeda was talking about, when he first described the 5th basic taste known as “Umami,” then look no further than this dish:
As the first bite hits your mouth, a wave of incredible happiness washes over you. You may have had Bottarga (Cured Fish Roe), but nothing like this. It is a pure flavor bomb of beautiful brininess, fragrant Garlic, a light spiciness, but something much more.
It is elemental. I was literally drooling while eating this dish. It was mouthwateringly awesome. Before I knew it, I found myself slurping long strands of the perfectly al dente Handmade Spaghetti as if I was eating Ramen. But I didn’t care, because by then, I was staring at an empty plate and looking longingly at the other half across the table.
JUST SO GOOD!
One of the greatest plates of Pasta we’ve ever eaten, and this one dish made the entire San Francisco trip worth it! Yes, that’s how incredible this was! (@PorkyBelly @paranoidgarliclover @TheCookie @Ns1 @A5KOBE @CiaoBob @J_L @BradFord @beefnoguy and others)
Or, my reaction told via emojis:
(Special) Suckling Pig Brasato:
When we heard our waiter say the words, “Suckling Pig…” I instantly blurted out “OK.” Chef Massimiliano was making a special this evening doing a Brasato of Suckling Pig(!). However it wasn’t going to be roasted (as my mind instantly thought of the sublime Roasted Suckling Pig we had at Monterey Palace), but done in a Brasato-style preparation.
Taking a bite: Spoon tender, succulent, luscious meaty morsels of Suckling Pig, slow braised for hours in a Tomato, Saffron and Mushroom Sauce.
It was INCREDIBLE!
I normally try to limit carbs, but we demolished our complimentary basket of Bread sopping it up in this amazing Suckling Pig Brasato Sauce! It was ridiculous how good this was!
The Suckling Pig Special came with a side of Roasted Artichokes which were nicely cooked and tasty.
Service is warm and relaxed, and ambiance-wise it’s as quiet or loud as the guests are; generally moderate noise levels at most.
La Ciccia continues to impress with its stunning menu of Sardinian dishes. Chef Massimiliano Conti may not be some world-renowned Michelin starred personality, but his cooking delivers so much joy and satisfaction that that alone is reason enough to celebrate.
From the delicious Prupisceddu in Umidu cun Tomatiga (Baby Octopus Stew in a Spicy Tomato Sauce), to the Calamareddusu Arrustiusu cun Frabiga (Roasted Monterey Calamari, Basil Oil, Greens), and outstanding Pastas like the Rigatoni & Veal Ragu (Special), and the Suckling Pig Brasato (Special), La Ciccia is already more enjoyable than most “celebrated” Italian restaurants we’ve been to in recent years.
But take one bite of their Spaghittusu cun Allu Ollu e Bottariga (Fresh Spaghetti, Spicy Oil, Garlic, Cured Fish Roe), and you will find something so soulful, so moving, so stunning, that all you can do is bask in the moment of pure joy, wish you had La Ciccia in your neighborhood, and begin planning your next trip to San Francisco to experience it all again.
291 30th Street
San Francisco, CA 94131
Tel: (415) 550 8114
what, no baby octopus stew?! i had that calamari recently and it was one of the best preps i’ve had in a long time. the chocolate semifreddo for dessert is pretty damn great too. glad you had another enjoyable dinner.
Thanks @PorkyBelly. Again, we remain indebted to you for the great recommendation! Yah I loved that Octopus Stew, but we wanted to try some new dishes on this visit. I do regret not ordering it though (it was that good).
We were so full after dinner that there was no room for dessert. Next time for sure! Thanks.
Nowadays one of the hippest neighborhoods in SF. But it was “unassuming” back in our day…when most had never heard of it. And where LaCiccia is now was a ho-hum pizza place. Just a little history.
That was a fantastic write up. Thanks so much. A few years ago a friend and I were down there for a cooking class and met her brother at La Ciccia for dinner. What a disappointment but not because of the restaurant. My friend is a FANTASTIC cook but boring when it comes to her taste in food. As was her brother. I can’t remember really what we had. I know there was a ho-hum pizza and lord knows what else. I was seriously bummed. Been meaning to return and your words and pics will carry me there. xoc
Last time I went a few months ago I confirmed with the waiter that no photographs were allowed, I think even it stated so on the menu. Surprised you got away with it if that rules is still enforced (I guess stealth shots are in order!)
Sometimes there isn’t too much of a need to explore new hip trendy places that are overhyped; it’s perfectly fine to go back to places like this that you know will deliver the goods.
Thanks @catholiver. Hope you enjoy your return visit. Definitely give the Spaghetti with Bottarga a try and the Octopus Stew.
Oh it definitely still says that on the menu. And again, we actually respected the request… until we noticed at least 40 - 50% of the tables had their cell phones out(!).
Then Lorella started chatting it up with the table next to us, we overheard them say they were headed to Italy. At that point Lorella’s face lit up like a Christmas tree, and she started pointing out places to visit. Lorella and the couple started browsing places to visit on their phone, she pointed out must visit locations, so at that point, we just felt it was fine to take pics of the food (no flash of course).
Y’all might enjoy this article. They opened in 2006!
La Ciccia is the first place I recommend to anyone coming to SF.
The pizza was the only dish I didn’t recommend there. He took it off the menu a few years ago.
Nice! I’m all over it.
Definitely get the Spaghittusu cun Allu Ollu e Bottariga (Fresh Spaghetti, Spicy Oil, Garlic, Cured Fish Roe) at the very least. One of the best bites of food I’ve had in years! I think you’d love it considering your appreciation and love of great Pasta dishes.
I could make the trip down…hint, hint
No Sardinian love for us on this trip. They’re closing on the 20th for vacay and the few days before are booked.
What days were you interested in?
If you don’t mind eating early I was able to grab bar seats as walk-ins when they opened.
What month? I’m not seeing it.
We’re trying to arrange to leave L.A. earlier than planned. So probably the 18th or 19th. Open Table says they’ll be closed from May 20th - June 12th and they’re very booked. I don’t mind the walk-in early bar seating thing.
To the top of my to do list in SF!!!
This looks like an incredible meal! I already know I’ll love it.
For what it’s worth I am a big fan of early walk in sit at the bar, it’s how I got to eat at Felix and Bestia without rez