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Week in Reviews: Rose Pistola Demoted to a Deuce

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It's hard to believe that in a not-too-distant past, Rose Pistola nabbed a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant, but as Mikey Two Stars discovers in his revisit, things have changed on Columbus in the past ten years, most notably the price point:

Still, I could justify higher prices given the nice surroundings that have weathered well over the last 12 years. Beautiful wood trim, a hexagonal tile floor and an open kitchen that features a wood oven and two grills make Rose Pistola one of the most pleasant spots to dine in North Beach. This is a restaurant geared up to produce serious rustic food.

The main courses I tried, however, couldn't justify the prices.

The chicken grilled under the brick ($23) was dry and desperately needed the herb butter melted over the top. The accompanying panzanella salad with chunks of tomato and dry bread tasted as if someone forgot to add the dressing.

In the end, Rose Pistola—where the cheapest pasta entree is $26 (!)—gets a tepid 1.5 for food along with a 3.5 for atmosphere, ultimately earning two stars and a memorable utterance of "I wouldn't send friends here." [Chron]

The other Chron review has Mandy Erickson handing out another deuce at Burlingame's new Burmese restaurant Mingalaba: "...it would be a mistake to pass by Mingalaba, a new Burmese place on Burlingame Avenue. The restaurant offers a cuisine that reflects the styles of Burma's neighboring countries, yet asserts its own character. And it does so in well-crafted dishes of fresh spices, vegetables, meat and fish ... Mingalaba's menu includes both Burmese and Mandarin dishes, but the most popular ones - the reason for visiting, after all - are Burmese." [Chron]

Last week, Paul Reidinger visited Jardiniere, and this week, he hits another established vet in Millennium: "Millennium is special — but why? .... The space tells people: this is a nice place, a serious restaurant, and we want it to look good, but we spend most of our resources of money and energy on the food. And the food is marvelous ... It's also the kind of food you'd never make at home, even if you knew how; the wealth of emulsions, purées, essences, and flavored oils is a triumph of saucing and reflects an investment of time and skill that make the best restaurant kitchens what they are and reminds us that some gastronomic experiences remain unique to restaurants." [SFBG]

Meredith Brody finds herself in the Sunset, gives us a history lesson on Macao, and then discovers that takeout Asian places can be inconsistent: "Ordering at Macao Friends and T 28 is itself a bit of a gamble. Over two meals at each, my opinions of the places reversed. An initial foray at Macao Friends was largely disappointing, when only two dishes of the half-dozen sampled really pleased. My first lunch at T 28 was more satisfying; every one of the four dishes we tried was pleasant, with a couple very good indeed. But a second dinner at Macao Friends knocked it out of the park, with every choice a winner, while a late supper at T 28 was uneven but fun." [SFW]

THE ELSEWHERE: The EBX takes to an oddity, Berkeley's vegan-friendly Italian restaurant Fellini, the Merc's Aleta Watson is at [update!] Pampas in Palo Alto, the MIJ hit Olema Inn last week, and of course, Bauer's Sunday review had three stars for Beretta.

THE BLOGS: The Daily Feed gives expensive ice cream another shot at Ici, Chef Single Guy is at Bar Tartine, Tablehopper had a special dinner at Bambuddha, SFTL does crepes at Ti Couz, NoSAM heads to Spork, and the always photographic Jim Herd visits Spork too.

[Photo: Flickr/mintamu]

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