Union Street is on its way to becoming a lively dining and drinking destination once again. Last month, Adriano Paganini’s new Mexican restaurant Flores opened, and it’s been packed ever since. Now, Contrada is joining the scene, moving into the old La Cucina space on Union Street and opening on Wednesday, January 4.
There’s officially a chef on board in Jason Tuley, who brings a lot of experience in Italian cooking, most recently from TBD, Parlour in Oakland, and Picco in Larkspur. He’s certainly giving the people what they want — the menu is almost all pizza and pasta (with a few appetizers and entrees), which, realistically, is what people going to a casual neighborhood Italian restaurant desire. The menu — in full below — is full of craveable housemade pastas like wild boar rigatoni and squid ink bucatini with Dungeness crab, as well as blistery, doughy Neapolitan-style pizzas in various forms, such as margarita, fungi, salami, and more. The restaurant estimates diners will eat on average for $45 per person, before tax, tip, and drinks.
Wine consultant Shawndra McCrorey created the beverage list, primarily comprised of small-production, sustainable Italian and Californian wines. Sixteen of those Californina wines are on tap, plus eight local beers. There will also be three low-ABV cocktails, since the space does not have a full liquor license.
As for that space, designer Rachel Simone and managing partners Dena Grunt (who also has interest in Nick’s Cove) and Mick Suverkrubbe went for a warm vibe, with reclaimed redwood, antiqued mirrors, a walnut bar, leather-stained wood tables, and brass light fixtures, with steel accents around the room. It’s a definite departure from the old space, which was a rundown cafe.
The most exciting element of the space, though, is the back deck, which seats 40 people. And beyond the deck is a so-called wine garden, with lots of greenery and lounge furniture.
Contrada opens on Wednesday, January 4, and Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Brunch will begin early February on weekends from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.