Today Bauer Pants comes out with a review update of Berkeley's Gather almost exactly one year after releasing his initial 2.5 star affair. It's clear that the loads of praise the vegetarian-leaning starlet has garnered from the likes of Esquire, Food + Wine and other local critics was a big motivator for his return visit. But he's still not totally wowed: the hamburger was "not the best but a very good example," the widely praised vegan charcuterie is "still worth ordering, but the combinations seem a little less inventive than I remember" and his formerly beloved pizza is "the least interesting dish." Despite his belief "that the restaurant has refined its message," he sticks to his guns with the 2.5 star rating for food. And the only real budge is on service, which gets an additional half star ostensibly for "subtler and better trained" servers that are "less strident" about the organic and sustainable thing. So it's still a 2.5er and we can all go back to business as usual. [Chron]
Meanwhile Reidinger is having a fine time of it over in Potrero Hill with the "little slice of Nice [France]" that is Pizza Nostra. "The service is impeccable," "pizzas are lovely" and he could also "do quite nicely here without pizza at all." Even the free foccaccia they bring you "is addictive." In fact the only thing he doesn't seem to like is the some buzz-killing broccoli and "jarringly sweet" tomato jam on a pizza special one night. The review ends high with "dense and moist" olive oil cake. [SFBG]
The Kauff takes an offal turn on Valentine's Day this week, with a guide on where to eat heart meat: "lean and robust, with the most amazing texture." Alembic is the easiest place to start with jerk duck hearts at the bar. Then he divides the remainder up by ethnicity, starting with Japanese yakitori. The Hana Zen, Izakaya Sozai and Oyaji all serve them. Ippuku and Halu get special attention for superior flavors. Then he finds an instance of Sardinian tuna heart at Incanto in a spaghettini dish that's "overcooked and off-balance." So on to Peruvian-style beef-heart anticuchos. He seems to like Mochica's best, but also mentions renditions at La Mar Cebicheria and Inkas in the Mission. He ends with the anticuchos de res: "unadorned" heart "with a thrum of liver in the flavor" available at Limon Rotisserie. So now you know. [SF Weekly]
Elsewhere: The EBX even likes carrots at Pin Toh, Marin IJ eats a Brazilian version of beef stroganoff at Restaurant Gaucho Brasileiro, The Merc hops on the bandwagon with Station 1 in Woodside, Bargain Bite has some raw food at Lydia's Kitchen in Fairfax and Bar Bite sidles up at Wood Tavern in Oakland.