In today's review update, El Bauer goes back to Mamacita. He calls the Marina Mexican joint "California-ized" with a "vibrant sense of place," "rich and layered" sauces and an overall ability to add "refinement to robust combinations." Although the festive atmosphere gets a noise bomb, "servers are helpful and down to earth," margaritas are "always excellent" and "Mamacita delivers some of the best, most satisfying Mexican-inspired food in the Bay Area." In other words, el tres! [Chron]
Josh Sens' review of Ippuku, the Berkeley izakaya from Christian Geideman, hits the interwebs today. Calling it "a delightful, artful downtown outpost that features all manner of delicious grilled things, with lots of sake and shochu to wash them down," Sens doesn't find much to quibble with here. The design provides a "primal room for feasting, designed by a caveman with a highly evolved eye" and the various iterations of skewered chicken bits are "chicken to the power of 10." He revels in just about everything but the shutuo, a "fishy force of nature" he admits is an acquired taste he hasn't acquired. All in all, it's a three star deal: "You want to tilt a glass and enjoy the fellowship and the unforced rhythms, right up to the last bit of dessert." [SF Mag]
And now we bring you Reidinger's metaphor of the week, as relayed in his review of Mission Chinese Food: "It is a veritable hipsterama, and I mean this in the best possible way." The cooking here is clever and forceful, and it's also gently incendiary. This is the kind of food that makes your nose run." A few dishes stand out, like the sizzling cumin lamb: "We could not ask more from any meat dish." And he calls the steam in a bowl of pork dumplings "a kind of pork aromatherapy." The review's close explains the last bit of MCF's appeal is in its deceptive Lung Shang Restaurant facade: "... thrill-seekers know that there's no thrill quite so thrilling as the unadvertised one." [SFBG]
This week Kauffman hits Seven Hills, the new Russian Hill Italian restaurant from Alexander Alioto. There's a busser that bugs here, but most of the food "demonstrated the same solid technique and classic forms — the culinary equivalent of an Armani jacket." In summary, "Seven Hills is not fashionable, in the manner of the whole-animal butchers and the whizz-bang tech geeks, and the service can be off-puttingly inexperienced. But Alioto's food can be very, very good." [SF Weekly]
The Elsewhere: The second Thursday Datebook review is of Nex in Oakland, which gets 2.5 stars, Bar Bites sinks into a delicious-looking egg-topped pizza at San Rafael's Vin Antico, Bargain Bite has traditional Mexican food at Gallego's in Berkeley, The Merc files a threefer of Cinnaholic, Miglet's and Good Chemistry Bakery; EBX experiences the pizza revolution at Addie's Pizza Pie , the Marin IJ hits Ghiringhelli's in Novato and the Metro SV says Tu Mero Mole taqueria goes above and beyond the expected.