Craig and Annie Stoll aren't planning to take over San Francisco, Greco-Roman style, any time soon. But their latest venture, Rome, Italy-influenced Locanda, has registered so high on the pre-opening buzz-o-meter that it might have stolen the show from some other coincidental hot newcomers. The market research was done with rigor, the staff was trained-up with Annie Stoll's studied methodology and chef Anthony Strong, who has worked with the Stoll's at Delfina for several years now, appears to be having his moment in the spotlight. Now that the doors have been open for just under seven weeks, let's take a sec to digest the post-opening chatter now, shall we?
The Pretty Darn Good News: At a friends and family dinner where the operative is to provide feedback, 7x7's Sara Deseran said she "didn’t have much to criticize, barring a lagging cocktail... It’s clear that Locanda is being opened by pros. The Stolls are nothing if not seasoned at this point." [7x7]
The Pasta News: On the bucatini all'Amatriciana, Grubstreet has: "this classic Roman dish is one of several spots on the menu where Chef Anthony Strong proves his salt in getting the staples right. The sauce is a deeply satisfying and layered mix of tomato, guanciale, pepperoncini, and pecorino." Darin Dines dished that "the pasta was perfectly cooked, leaving just a bit of chew to the pasta. The guanciale (cured pork cheek) imparted a little richness and hint of pork flavor, while there was just a little bit of spiciness that crept up on the palate. [sic]" Yet Foodnut "found the grilled items unexpectedly stronger than the pastas." [Grubstreet, Darin Dines, Foodnut]
The Ambiance News: Unpacked says, "traditional Thonet bentwood chairs, candles flickering in old anchovy tins, and geometric wall tiles give this open, loftlike space a warm, contemporary feel. [sic]" Urban Daddy adds a rating: the "quality of the mood lighting on a scale of 1 to 10: 9.3." And Bauer "was pleasantly surprised by the tolerable noise level. While there was still a buzz — the rating was four bells — the baffling panels in the ceiling made it seemed quieter, and it was easy to carry on a conversation." [Unpacked, Urban Daddy, ISSF]
The Oxtail News: Bauer gave their oxtail a drop in his favorite dishes bucket earlier this month: "The knobs of gooey, sometimes gristly, meat fall from the bone into the pool of sauce that tastes more of meat than tomatoes. The thinly sliced crescents of celery are an inspired addition to lighten and refresh the beautifully braised meat." [Inside Scoop]
The Price News: Foodnut tells us, "prices are on the high side, we expected them to be slightly lower than we encountered. The prices are about the same as Delfina, and one step away from fine dining." Claire B. of Yelp quips, "I shouldn't still be hungry after dinner and need to visit Arinell's for a slice." [Foodnut, Yelp]
The Bar News: The Perfect Spot said opening bar manager Eric Alperin "brings his classy precision to their short but rich cocktail menu," calling it "focused and appealing...a worthy stop for understated, elegant cocktails." And Thad Vogler of Bar Agricole agrees: at Locanda "we see the first New York inroad. The drinks are really good; really understated and well executed. They're great, simple drinks that really hit the bullseye. I was impressed." [The Perfect Spot, Inside Scoop]
The Service News: Tal N. of Yelp warns, "they were so anxious that we leave, that we got the "do you need anything else?" question in the middle of dessert and the check a second later." But Yvonne Y. had an entirely different opinion: "the staff are really nice and attentive - in a nice kind of quiet way...meaning just enough attention but they also let you enjoy your meal and your company. [sic]" [Yelp]
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