Piccino has met with the approval of Don Bauer, who awarded the Dogpatch Italian spot three stars in yesterday's review. Though the restaurant's undergone a lot of changes, switching to a new location last year and trading in chef Rachel Sillcocks for Jacob Town, Bauer still likes the food. He has kind words for the pizzas' "crisp exterior and chewy interior" and the pork and beef meatballs, which "exceed expectations," and praises newer additions like ricotta gnudi and seared trout, dubbing both dishes "beautifully executed" twice in the space of two paragraphs. (We're guessing the Chron is now down to two copy editors and a trained hamster.) The "friendly and laid back" service and "neighborhood feel" both merit mention, but it's the food that "elevates the restaurant to a destination," and earns it three stars. [Chron]
Also feeling the critical love this week is Hakkasan, which SF Mag's Josh Sens dubs "upscale" and a "big production" compared to the "cuddly, Kickstarter-funded restaurants" currently populating the city. Chef Ho Chee Boon's crystal dumplings and the Chinese chive and shrimp dumplings merit praise, as does the "plucky" black-pepper rib-eye in Merlot sauce and the pipa duck, whose "crisp, malty" skin conceals "rich, juicy meat." The "comically small" portions don't escape Sens' notice, however, especially considering the "stratospheric markups" (tamed somewhat for the SF market). Overall, it's "a restaurant that celebrates conspicuous consumption— gastronomy done Gangnam style," and it's enough to earn two stars. [SF Mag]
Over at the Bay Guardian, Virginia Miller does a roundup of three new Asian spots around the Bay. She digs the seafood bibimbop and "free and abundant banchan" at Korean Muguboka in the Sunset, and while the titular dish at Oakland's Ramen Shop is "quality," her favorite dishes are broth-free, from "comforting" wild nettle fried rice with squid and pork to a "unique" Napa cabbage and Meyer lemon kimchi. The cocktails are also noteworthy. Finally, Jay Hamada's Roku at Market and Octavia misses with "salty and gummy" fermented squid, but the "surprisingly good" seafood salad makes up for it. [SFBG]
Meanwhile, in the East Bay, the EBX's Luke Tsai is first on the scene at the nouveau-Mex Nido in Jack London Square, and despite decor that's a "wee bit pretentious" and "feels like a mish-mash of every single Bay Area dining trend of the moment," he finds solace in Silvia McCollow's "juicy and succulent" roasted chicken, "addictive" chips tossed in adobo sauce, and "skillfully prepared" slow-braised pork. But the real star of the show for Tsai is dessert from Jaynelle St. John's PieTisserie, which is tucked inside the restaurant; he calls her chocolate peppermint cream pie "one of the best things I ate last year," and is equally smitten with the Okinawan sweet potato and chocolate cream-pretzel varieties. [EBX]
Elsewhere: Tasting Table also hit Ramen Shop and was equally keen on a different variety of the fried rice (with pork, shrimp, and parsley); the Merc calls Bull Valley Roadhouse in Port Costa a "retro, rustic marvel," awarding it 3.5 stars; the Marin IJ still thinks the seafood at Sausalito's long-running Trident is worth a mention; and the Chron likes the short brunch lines and tasty chilaquiles at the Mission's San Jalisco.