Saturday, December 31, 2005


Incanto is an Italian restaurant on Church St. in the Noe Valley district of San Francisco. We met our friends Richard and Elizabeth, who live nearby, at Incanto last Thursday night.

Incanto's interior is a very soothing palette of light neutral colors, with lots of stone and tile. The kitchen is open, but I didn't notice it being too loud. The emphasis is on "California Italian," taking advantage of whatever's locally available, rather than a regional emphasis.

The meal starts with a great fanfare about the water. They filter the local tap water (from Hetch Hetchy, which was according to John Muir as beautiful as Yosemite Valley before it was filled up in order to supply SF with water), carbonate it, and serve it. Richard used to make a joke about asking for "Hetch Hetchy" at SF restaurants when asked whether he wanted Pellegrino or Evian. The joke's on us now, evidently. Incanto also grows herbs on their rooftop garden.

The menu changes daily, though there are quite a few repeats. I started with a salt cod fritter, which was one of the best renditions of salt cod fritter I've had--perfect little cruchy spheres with a salt-cod-y center.

For a main course I had fresh bacon with beans. This was basically a big hunk of uncured bacon served on a pile of white beans. It was bacon-y good.

Debbie had a salad of goose confit, followed by pasta with duck and olives which was amazing. Richard had an agrodolce of branzino, which was disappointing. The sauce was unpleasantly sweet without a lot of balance.

For dessert I had a nut tart which was kind of bitter, and not all that pleasant, I thought. Debbie had olive oil ice cream with sea salt. We had better olive oil ice cream at L'Avant Gout in Paris, but this was pretty good.

They have a good selection of Italian wines, including quite a few available by the glass.

I thought the food was generally quite good, with a few misses, in a very pleasant atmosphere. Service was quite good, if a little rushed at the end.

1550 Church Street
San Francisco, CA