Madame Unterman is first to review the new Original Joe's in North Beach, and it's all good news: Her favorite hamburger steak comes out "full of flavor," the calf's liver is "a dream come true," "salads have vastly improved," and "just by substituting fresh vegetables for canned, the tired old war horses turn into steeds...spaghetti is no longer precooked!" All told: "Original Joe’s has achieved the impossible by returning to us intact and better than ever, reclaiming its niche as the quintessential San Francisco restaurant." [Examiner]
Like a boss, Bauer is in the Marina calling Ristobar's new Italy imported chef Michele Belotti, "a 25-year-old rising star." Perfectly sauced pastas "showed Belotti's skills," and even though "large plates are less interesting," [and there's a run in with a mealy tomato] "the purity of Belotti's offerings is perfectly attuned to Bay Area tastes." He calls service "improved" and ends with a premonition: "as Belotti becomes acclimated he could become the new Italian darling of San Francisco." 2.5 stars [Chron]
SFBG's Virginia Miller is won over by the 20's era soda fountain lore of Cole Valley's new Ice Cream Bar: "After trying most of the menu over multiple visits, I can't help but gravitate to the wild cherry phosphate ($7) time and again." She also appreciates the Ode to Mr. O'Neil ("Like an elevated Brooklyn egg cream"), New Orleans Hangover ("better than a coffee milkshake"), a "decadent pistachio milkshake for two," and the "earthy-sweet" candy cap mushroom phosphate. Ice cream options are also "of unexpectedly high quality," especially tart sour cherry and an ice cream sandwich made with roasted pineapple ice cream and ginger cookies. [SFBG]
Kauffman hits up Daniel Patterson's new Haven in Jack London Square where "bold flavors and big portions will appeal to the timid, while the balance and complex construction of the dishes will get those of us who eat for sport."
Post Plate Shop exodus, "Haven is a good fit for Alter, an Ubuntu alumna," and just like D-Patt's other restaurants "Haven juxtaposes textures as carefully as it does flavors." Despite a recurring overly heavy hand with bacon, Alter "has a gift for inserting a subtle twist into a dish that forces an epiphany." [SF Weekly]
THE ELSEWHERE: Marin IJ calls San Rafael's Le Chalet "a European charmer," EBX explores the duality that is Montclair's Amba Falafel, The Merc is pleasantly surprised by Livermore's new Mexican restaurant El Sacromonte.