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The Gatekeepers: Sandra Freeman, Beretta

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This is The Gatekeepers, where Eater roams the city to meet the fine men and women standing between you and some of your favorite dining destinations.
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Jennifer Yin, 7/24/08

Now a solid four months in the post-Last Supper Club era, the crowds are stronger than ever at Beretta. Nearly from the get-go, chef/owner Ruggero Gadaldi has hit on all cylinders with the solid pizzas, which, combined with the celebrated cocktail program and a big PR push, Beretta has become a new darling of the Mission, for critics and locals alike. Reservations aren't taken for small parties, making the job of Sandra Freeman that much more interesting.

Sandra Freeman, Hostess at Beretta: There are approximately 70 give or take a few that magically appear from time to time. The corner window is my favorite table. Great to see the action of the restaurant, who's coming in and also great to be seen at! How have things been since the Bauer review? He called it the perfect restaurant, after all. Actually, he used the word "perfect" five times. Michael has a very devoted following and everyone wants to try exactly what he had! The staff has been incredible really stepping up their game to make sure everyone has a good experience. We fill up as soon as the doors open! There is so much passion here and it all comes together.

Let's get down to the nitty-gritty: 8 PM on a Saturday night. What’s the wait for a table? Remember, that’s peak time! You will most likely have a wait but I always [tell people] we serve till 1:00 am seven days a week. Is there anything one can say to make the wait shorter? I have heard everything with lots of smiles. Tons of smiles, the "friends of friends of friends" line.

We'll take that as a no. Tell us about your favorite customers. Any celebs been by recently? My favorites are our amazing regulars who have been so supportive. Mumm’s the word on celebs. They have to have a place to go! How do you deal with VIPs, when there are no tables left to give? Everyone loves the ambiance, the scene and watching the bartenders so focused on delivering their incredibly mastered cocktails ... [I tell them to] add some bubbles while you wait.

What’s the most outrageous thing you've heard from a customer? "You said twenty minutes!" to which I felt I should have reminded the guest it was a dining experience NOT exact science ...that you couldn’t accommodate? "I came a long way and I want to sit down!" Note: a "long way" was within San Francisco and the dining companion was sooo embarrassed.

Word on the street is that Beretta's a hotspot for the industry crowd. What makes it so appealing to them? The late hours for sure and the comfortable atmosphere . The owners are very passionate about fellow industry having a place to go. What is the first thing you want when you are done? After a hard night’s work?..A really good cocktail or a glass of wine with some great food and all with some one to serve you!

Speaking of which, do you have any favorites on the menu? Is there a most popular dish or signature item yet? All the small plates are so amazing to share. I just love the buzz when people start passing the plates around. They get so excited ... Some of my faves: fava bruschetta, charred raddicchio, warm farro salad, burratta ... You have to try the entire cocktail list but I have a special thing for the rattlesnake!

Finally, what’s the one Gatekeeper tool you need to do your job? A very sharp pencil and a big smile!

Beretta

1199 Valencia Street, , CA 94110 (415) 695-1199 Visit Website

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