Christine Kesler, 10/02/07
Less than a week after Michael Bauer anointed it the best restaurant—nay, place—in all the land, SPQR plays host to SF Weekly's Robert Lauriston. Lauriston does his best Alton Brown impression in pointing out several instances in which SPQR wanders from traditional Roman ways—for example, the pasta is made in-house—and some of these deviations aren't for the best:
Traditionally, suppli al telefono are round balls of rice with a chunk of mozzarella in the middle; when you bite into one out of the fryer, the cheese makes long strings, hence the "telefono" in the name. SPQR's were instead large and flattish patties with the mozzarella mixed in with the rice, and (at least when I tried them) not served piping hot. They were still tasty, but they could be improved by hewing closer to the original.And—shock—Lauriston even finds a dish that "misses":
Rigatoni alla carbonara is coated with a creamy sauce of eggs, black pepper, and pecorino; this is untraditional due to the guanciale being in thin strips rather than diced, but very true to the spirit of the dish. A daily special of baked lasagna with fresh pasta, housemade pork sausage, and escarole was the only unsuccessful dish out of several meals. The tomato sauce was too watery, the noodles were a bit overcooked, and everything was undersalted.Still, the success of SPQR in this town is undeniable; it's exactly the kind of restaurant that San Francisco—and its various mouthpieces (Bauer, et al.)—loves to embrace and boast. In the end, Lauriston sums it all up quite nicely: "Is there any limit to San Franciscans' appetite for rustic Italian food?" [SFW]
Paul Reidinger celebrates Clay Oven, the restaurant that finally brings Indian cuisine to the stroller-lined sidewalks of Noe Valley: "Dosa and Aslam's Rasoi, each within a few steps of Valencia and 22nd streets, aren't exactly light-years from Noe Valley, but there is something cozier about Clay Oven's setting on outer Church, amid a quieter but flourishing restaurant row and Muni's J trains rumbling past at odd intervals: a real convenience for those lucky enough to catch one." Even though Clay Oven is run-of-the-mill Indian, it still satisfies those tandoori yens. [SFBG]
ELSEWHERE: The Chronicle ventures out into the greater Bay Area, as Mandy Erickson has two stars for Menlo Park Jamaican Back A Yard while Miriam Morgan doles out 2.5 to Santa Clara's Parcel 104. La Tablehopper anoints Lolo as the best date restaurant, the Daily Feed is at Brenda's Soul Food, and in case you missed it, Pizza Fridays took to Pizzetta 211 in the Richmond.