Laurel Village has a new Latin taste sensation in Artesano, the second restaurant from the Rigolo Cafe duo of owner Doug Mathieux and executive chef Jeff Gambardella that's opening today. Bright and colorful, it was borne out of the duo's long experience serving the neighborhood. "We've been in Laurel Heights for nine years now, and we love the neighborhood," says Mathieux. "One of the things our regulars have told us is that they'd love a place that's more full-service, but still a casual environment. They've also lamented the lack of Latin food beyond taquerias." So he and Gambardella decided to open a Latin-inspired restaurant that offers two experiences in one: fast-casual counter service during the day, and more formal full service in the evening. When the former Asqew Grill space came open, just a few doors down from Rigolo, they snapped it up.
The primary culinary inspiration is Brazil, where Mathieux's father has lived for decades and where he's been a frequent visitor. (Mathieux was raised in France, which provided the inspiration for Rigolo; he says Artesano is, in part, an expression of the other half of his culinary background.) Gambardella, who's cooked at Postrio, Home, and LuLu, pored over South American cookbooks to create the fusion-y menu, which ranges from grilled coconut-lime shrimp to flat-iron steak with chimichurri. Eight Spanish and South American wines, a handful of beers, and three housemade aguas frescas round out the menu. (Here's the full food menu and drink menu.)
Unlike Rigolo, which bills itself as the most child-friendly restaurant in SF, Artesano isn't necessarily meant for the younger set. "We're focusing on offering a slightly more quiet, romantic night out for the parents, but still in a casual, unstuffy environment," says Mathieux. That means dishes at reasonable price points (the entire menu is under $16), but a few glamorous touches like a fireplace, handmade wood tables, and a long glass bar with stools and views of the kitchen.