Technically speaking, if you’re been paying close attention, it’s been about six weeks since chef Matt Accarrino first started welcoming customers into the sunny Bush Street space his all-day cafe Mattina calls home. So while breakfast has been available for a while, the impressively slow rollout of the much-anticipated spinoff from the SPQR chef means as of only recently have you actually been able to slide into a slate-colored banquette and dig into a bowl of fresh bucatini tangled up with spring vegetables and arugula pesto.
As of mid-April, the restaurant’s hours remain somewhat limited — open Thursday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. — though the plan remains to eventually pull charcoal grilled proteins off the grill until 9 p.m. six days a week. “At the end of the day, the whole point of this is to create a place for the community that’s useful,” Accarrino says.
Breakfast, which debuted early last month, runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and keeps things relatively simple: there’s an ever-changing lineup of sweet and savory baked goods, plus biscuits and coffee. Pastries run the gamut from red miso butterscotch cookies to lemon poppyseed scones and aim, generally, to steer clear of classic flavors in lieu of more unexpected combos, the chef says.
Accarrino’s particularly excited to bring biscuits back into the mix; when SPQR served brunch, every diner’s meal started with a plate of hot biscuits and butter — “Because what’s more satisfying than that?” — and he hopes Mattina customers will enjoy starting the day in a similar style. Here they’re split in half, griddled on the restaurant’s charcoal-fired grill, then slathered with either cultured butter and jam or, for a more savory start, draped in cheese and sliced prosciutto. There’s an option to add an egg, plus a curry chicken salad iteration for those in a more brunch-y mood.
Coffee comes courtesy of San Francisco roaster Saint Frank, an omni-roast that works just as well as a drip as in the cafe’s signature espresso drinks. As with the pastries, it’s a pretty simple menu — coffee, Americano, cappuccino, and the like — with two less-common options on the list. First, there’s an espresso with vanilla bean cream, a drink Accarrino ported over from SPQR, and second, a candy cap mushroom latte. The locally foraged fungi, prized by chefs for their sweet, maple syrup-like flavor and scent, are dried, turned into a powder, and then combined with maple syrup for an espresso drink that’s lightly sweet with bass notes of umami.
The all-day menu kicks in at 11 a.m. and runs through 3 p.m. for now, and it’s perhaps where the Cal-Italian influences really shine. It’s a tight menu but diverse enough to satisfy a craving for a light midday meal and support a full dinner spread once Mattina’s hours get expanded into the evening.
A trio of chicchetti include golden arancini served with salsa rosa, blush-colored sheets of proscuitto served with gnocchi frito, and bruschetta. For the last, there are three options: ricotta and honey, Toma cheese and pickled peppers, and mozzarella with tricolored vegetables. Two salad options serve as a leafy runway for three pastas — bucatini tossed in arugula pesto and topped with lemon ricotta, cheese-filled ravioli in tomato and chicken fricassee, and decadent tagliatelle in marsala mushroom sauce.
At the smoky heart of the menu lies a short list of larger plates, mostly meaty items grilled over the restaurant’s hearth. There are three beef options (sirloin, chuck, or smoked brisket), as well as a pork chop and whole branzino. Vegetables to enjoy on the side include some of the usual seasonal suspects like asparagus, plus white beans with kale, potatoes and onions, and sweet peppers with cipollini onions. And yes, Mattina’s Italian-imported gelato machine is up and spinning, so for desserts, diners can choose from a berry copetta or a buffalo milk ice cream sandwich.
In continuation of the gradual opening approach, aperitivo hour has yet to commence — though Accarrino says he’s aiming to start that in May with dinner service on the horizon for some time in late spring. The cocktail hour will actually run from 4 to 6 p.m., so two hours, not one, during which time they’ll roll out a bar cart stocked to mix up vermouth spritz-inspired drinks. Accarrino says he spent a great deal of time and energy gathering up a selection of uncommon Italian vermouths to stock the bar specifically for this. The wine list, meanwhile, will focus on affordable to mid-range selections available by the bottle and glass.
For now, it’s walk-ins only with seating up front at cafe tables, down the length of the dining room in leather-wrapped banquettes, as well as at a chef’s bar facing the kitchen. There’s a parklet in the works, as well as a few tables facing Bush with an awning that stretches out from the roof. Contractor Michael Conrad from 7 Hills Construction brought the space to life, but it’s Accarrino’s vision that saw the coffee-colored marble slab seated on top of the bar and delicate flowered wallpaper wrapped around various accent walls. Reservations will be available via Resy starting April 27 — and as ever, keep an eye on the Mattina Instagram for updates.
Mattina, 2232 Bush Street in San Francisco, is open Thursday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.