It’s been four months since Flour + Water, that stalwart of the San Francisco Italian dining scene perched on the corner of 20th and Harrison streets in the Mission, went dark to undertake a four-month renovation. But as of February 10, the pasta powerhouse is back and sporting a refined new design. Now the dining room is wrapped in zinc paneling with walnut and marble accents throughout and bathed in the warm glow of light fixtures shaped like balls of creamy mozzarella. Co-chefs Thomas McNaughton and Ryan Pollnow also took time to revamp the restaurant’s menu — and while the signature pasta tasting menu has returned, there’s a fresh focus on antipasti.
The chef duo stayed true to what’s become the restaurant’s calling card in the 13 years since its 2009 debut, namely creative Italian cuisine that’s driven by California ingredients and a commitment to quality. And while the menu has always changed regularly to reflect seasonality, the antipasti selection has specifically been expanded to better showcase dishes blackened on the grill. Additions include pork belly spiedini with charred spring onion salsa verde and charred broccoli accented with avocado, white beans, lemon, and fried garlic.
Of course, pasta remains the main draw and the tasting menu remains the cornerstone of the menu. It’s $125 with the option for a $65 wine pairing and eases in with amberjack crudo and mushroom arancini before rolling into the ever-exciting lineup of pastas like mushroom-shaped chestnut funghetti scattered with chanterelle and trumpet mushrooms, nettles, and delicately folded veal and truffle pecorino agnolotti spiked with fresh horseradish.
Flour+Water Hospitality Group, which includes partners Kara Bratcher, Vanya Shekell, and David Steele plus the co-chefs, worked with San Francisco-based Lundberg Design on the redesign; the goal was to not just bring the space up-to-date (they kicked the very 2010-era Edison bulbs, for example) but also to match it to what’s become the restaurant’s role as a place for celebration. While the initial vision for Flour + Water was to build a neighborhood spot, the team says the restaurant has since become a destination for special nights out. They wanted to space to reflect that so the new look aims to be more refined with Italian marble accents and hand-plastered walls textured to echo undulating noodles.
The wine list, courtesy Flour+Water Hospitality Group wine director Samuel Bogue, zooms in on micro-producers across Italy and California. Plus, there’s the new Pasta Water label, a collaboration with natural winemaker Subject to Change. It’s an organic, multi-vintage, skin-fermented white wine blend of roussanne, chenin blanc, and muscat. Reservations are always recommended but walk-ins are accepted — and never forget, this is one of San Francisco’s somewhat limited options for Monday night dinner out.
Flour + Water, 2401 Harrison Street, is open for dinner from 5:30-10 p.m. Thursday, Sunday, and Monday and from 5:30-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Reservations recommended and available on Resy.