this last saturday, after some techno-freak german-nudie action at the "love parade" i was in the mood for something sedate, easily digested with no nudies. walking by il cantuccio for the 24,679 thousandth time i peered in to see an empty table in the long, narrow, cozy dining room peopled with - gasp- normal folk. folk wearing collars (not leather studded). folk who were about my age and up. i sensed no "buzz" or "trendiness" or "hipness" or hype raditating from this little trattoria. bundled up in my scratchy cardigan, sturdy walking shoes and wielding my psychic walker, in i wheeled myself.
we began, sedately enough, with a green salad.
insalate mista $5.75, mixed green salad with cherry tomates, olive oil and balsalmic vinegar
the insalate mista appeared to be an unassuming little fellow with just a few tiny cherry tomato halves nestled in your standard bed of mixed greens. but it was tasty. it was excellent. the balsalmic and olive oil dressing was light and hit the perfect balance with just a touch of acidity and a subtle depth and sweetness that could only come from a very good, aged balsalmic. the cherry tomatoes, though sparse, were incredibly sweet little nuggets of tomato candy. a good omen for the meal to come.
potato stuffed ravioli with lamb sauce
the meat eater ordered one of the specials of the evening, a potato stuffed ravioli in a tomato-based lamb sauce, which he raved about. the report was that the potato filling was creamy but not heavy and the ground lamb had that rich lamb flavor without being too gamey, as lamb can be sometimes.
capellini pomodoro $9.95, angel hair pasta tossed with garlic, arugula, chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce
i ordered the angel hair pasta with garlic, arugula and tomato because it was the only pasta item on the menu that didn't contain any dairy. generally i shy away from capellini as it's often not cooked properly and the delicate noodles easily become lost in an over or under abundance of heavy handed sauces. this dish was perfectly executed. the tomatoes were seasonly sweet, the arugula lent just a touch of color, the dish was studded with bits of coarsely chopped garlic and the tomato sauce just coated each noodle. there was the right amount of olive oil in the sauce to keep the pasta separated withougt sending it into the oil slick zone. this was one of the best pasta dishes i've had in a long time.
having injudiciously gobbled down too much of the delicious, spongy foccacia like bread that came with the meal we skipped dessert, but the usual classic italian sweets were all present and accounted for...from tiramisu to panna cotta to biscotti. maybe next time.
and there will be a next time. this place is a neighborhood gem that dishes up classic italian fare in a cozy and intimate setting where you can actually have a conversation, unlike other italian places in the neighborhood whose overhyped name shall go unmentioned.
good for meat eaters. pretty good for vegetarians with four appetizers, salads, pizzas, and four pasta dishes that seem to be meat free. nor will vegans starve with a selection of two appetizers, some salads and the capellini pasta dish. there is a nice looking gnocchi on the menu which they could probably omit the cheese from.
3228 16th street
san francisco 415 861 3899