Sometimes you just get lucky. While wandering through the Mission District of San Francisco, we wanted to stop for a drink and maybe an appetizer. We passed by a number of cafes and other places, finally deciding to take a chance on Beretta. I knew nothing about the restaurant but the menu looked intriguing, the place looked clean, and there were plenty of people inside. So we decided to stop in.
As you enter the restaurant, to your left is a long, well-stocked bar. Their wine list is primarily Italian, with about 14 wines available by the glass, for $7-$12.50. They also have an extensive cocktail list, with numerous intriguing options. We tried the Agricole Mule, which contains rum, lime, ginger, & mint and the Airmail, which has rum, honey, lime, & prosecco. Both were very good, not overly sweet, and with a nice blend of flavors. I think this could be quite a hot spot at night.
They have an open kitchen, which is always a good sign. Everything on their menu is fresh, seasonal, and sourced from local farmers, and they use organic ingredients whenever possible. The menu is primarily small plates, lots of different antipasti, some pizzas, risotto and a main entree that changes every day. Prices are reasonable, with most of the small plates costing $5-$7. There was plenty on the menu that appealed to me, and though I wanted to try many different dishes, we were there only for a small bite as we would be having dinner in a few hours.
We began with the Dungeness crab aracini with calabrese aioli ($10) were very good, with a crunchy, fried exterior and plenty of sweet crab meat and cheese inside. One of the better arancinis I have tasted, and an excellent alternative to use crab.
The Baked Polenta with Gorgonzola cheese ($6) was superb, a large piece of moist polenta smothered in cheese with a delicious red sauce. The tang of the cheese was prominent, though slightly modified by the hint of sweetness in the red sauce. This is top-notch comfort food, a hearty dish that is simple but very good. I made sure that the cast iron pan was quite clean by the time I was done, scraping cheese and sauce off of it. It was also a good place to dip some bread.
Service was very good, and I had no complaints. Though my experience here was limited, everything pleased me, and I think this place has lots of potential. I would certainly return here if I visit San Francisco again. If the rest of their food is as good as the two dishes I tasted, then this is definitely a spot you should visit.
1199 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA