Occupation: Horse Trainer
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Poesia
Reviewed Poesia: Saturday, March 30, 2013
Poesia is a welcoming neighborhood restaurant in the heart of the Castro. The interior is rustic and homey. The owners wanted to create a restaurant that captures the feel of an Italian home on the Calabrian coast and they did just that. The old black and white Italian movies playing on the wall added an air of authenticity. The staff is incredibly attentive without being invasive and the manager greets you at the door like an old friend. Parking can be tough but it is easily accessible through public transportation and there is street parking as well.
The bar is fun and the bartender, Teddy is adorable and creates compelling specialty cocktails. His vodka martini, Dante, made with basil is a gorgeous green color and tastes amazing. They have great selection of California and Italian wines and the pours are generous. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and not only went out of their way to accommodate our vegan diners but also offered gluten-free options, which is pretty impressive for an Italian restaurant.
We started with olives marinated in mint and orange. It was a good variety and the citrus flavor with the mint brought out the flavors of each type of olive. We also had the organic tomato bread soup to share and the waiter very nicely gave us a generous pour in two bowls. It was garden fresh, full-flavored with a deep intense flavor and let the tomatoes be the star. We also had the kale salad with fennel and apples. The kale was fresh and delicious with a lovely light balsamic dressing that played up the crunch of the apples and fennel. Our non-vegan diners tried the squid ink ravioli filled with crab. The presentation was spectacular and the pasta was cooked to perfection with the freshest crab filling; the flavors of the ingredients were allowed to shine. Our mains were all different and the presentation was gorgeous.
The chef was gracious and made a special vegan pasta with orecchiette that had fresh and spicy tomato sauce and farmer’s market mushrooms. It was delicious. The pink fettuccine with gorgonzola, caramelized radicchio, walnuts and gorgonzola was perfectly cooked and the textures of the smooth cheese and walnuts made a nice contrast. The dessert options at Poesia vary, but the star this night was the tiramisu served in a mason jar. It was smooth and delicate and the presentation was fun.
Poesia is a special treat and feels like a night of vacation in Italy. The name of the restaurant means “poetry,” and from the greeting at the door and the wonderful cocktails to the perfectly cooked handmade pastas, it was like poetry in action. Thanks to the attention to detail and willingness to accommodate and delight special dietary needs, this friendly and fun neighborhood restaurant is a place to which I enjoy returning.
Occupation: Health Coach and Nutrition Consultant
Favorite Restaurant: encuentro café and wine bar
Reviewed Poesia: Sunday, April 7, 2013
Our experience at Poesia began with a warm “Buonasera!” as owner Francesco d’Ippolito greeted us to his charming Italian restaurant in the Castro. We were given a lovely seat near the window, which gave us ample opportunity to people watch down below on all the lively happenings in the neighborhood. Alas, we were not in Italy, but Francesco’s warm service and great food, plus the Castro’s own charm, made for a wonderful dining experience.
Francesco personally attended to our table for the first part of our meal, which made us feel well taken care of as we negotiated both the extensive wine list and wonderful food offerings. He helped us decide on a great wine option, given consideration to both our tastes and price point. He clearly knows his Italian wine regions well and was able to give us helpful and interesting information about the wines.
After ordering and enjoying some bread with delicious, local olive oil, we were served our appetizers and salads. My husband ordered the gnocchi with Mediterranean mussels and saffron, and although I did not try the mussels myself, I loved the gnocchi in saffron sauce. The gnocchi were light and flavorful, and the saffron sauce was luxurious. My friend and I both ordered salads, both were crisp, refreshing and perfectly dressed. I personally love kale, so it was nice to see a kale salad being featured in an upscale Italian restaurant.
The menu is both creative and seasonal and I appreciated their desire to follow the principles of the Slow Food Movement by choosing local, organic and sustainable foods, including their meats. However, as someone who does not eat meat (other than fish occasionally) I did find the menu a bit limited in vegetarian options. My husband ordered the grilled whole Mediterranean sea bass and my friend ordered the pork tenderloin wrapped in pancetta and both really loved the quality and flavor of their meals. I ordered the special of the evening—Tortello di Barbabietola con Ricotta Affumicata—a roasted red beet ravioli, with a light butter sage sauce and shaved smoked ricotta cheese. It was absolutely delicious!
Our meal finished perfectly by sharing two desserts—the tiramisu and the chocolate mousse. Each one took a classic dessert and made it both special and inventive. The tiramisu was light and perfectly flavored with Grand Marnier, coffee and a hint of orange. The chocolate mousse was more like ganache in its richness and full chocolate flavor, which was great, and was mellowed out nicely by the mascarpone on the side. What made the dessert extraordinary was that it was served with olive oil, cayenne and sea salt which really tasted quite wonderful and surprising.
Overall, I really enjoyed our entire eating experience at Poesia. However, it was a very expensive night out even though we did not splurge in our choices or meal options. Paying $16 for five vegetarian ravioli (with no side vegetable) seems quite pricey, even though I completely understand I was paying for quality. I appreciate the quality food and the great service, so this would definitely be more of a special occasion restaurant for our budget. The décor was lovely and reminded all three of us of our travels in Italy. It is small and cozy and by the time we left, the place was full of happy eaters on a Sunday night.
Location: San Mateo
Favorite Restaurant: Aslam’s Rasoi
Reviewed Poesia: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Poesia is located in the Castro/Noe Valley neighborhoods. It’s a Victorian house and easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. However once you find it, it’s like you have walked into someone’s home in Southern Italy. The owner, Francesco, greets you upon arrival and before you know it you’re walking into what could have been someone’s living room, but it’s filled with tables, candles, linens and warm colors of orange terracotta and yellow walls with a silent Italian film projecting on the wall.
Generous portions! Everything we ordered was large enough for one or two people. Our favorites were the lamb shanks, gluten-free pasta with braised pork ragù and the tiramisu. Everything is plated as if there was a food stylist in the kitchen. The food tasted as if the recipes had been passed down from generations; everything is homemade.
The staff is so friendly that they make you feel at home; it’s truly a hidden gem in the Castro/Noe Valley neighborhoods.