801 22nd street san francisco ca 94107 | 415.824.4224 | website
This cozy corner cafe opened a couple of years ago in an area of Potrero Hill known as Dogpatch. Curious about the name, I did some research and found that it refers to a green spot where everyone takes their dogs to walk. I also found a couple references to a nearby area that used to be called butchertown where the blood and gore running off from the slaughterhouses would attract feral dogs. Two very different takes on it – anyone know the real story? The area is a hodgepodge of industrial sections and quaint working class victorian homes interspersed between new offices and live-work loft developments. Here’s a link to a site with lots of historical pictures.
PIccino is a tiny cafe with high ceilings and big windows. They are best known for their fantastically sheer thin crust pizza as well as for serving a fine cup of blue bottle coffee, but we were here for one reason… Hog Island Oyster Co had a special Oyster Festival last Sunday where they set up a curbside crew with an oyster shucking station and grill. Lest I confuse anyone, this was a special event and I am not sure that they normally serve oysters on their regular menu.
These fellows are pros, I believe they can be found manning the shucking booth at the Saturday farmer’s market at the Ferry Building.
It was fun to watch them shucking and grilling the oysters…
We got there around 12 ish and met Mank and CDR who had already snagged a nice outside table in the sun. The staff brought out another tiny table for us so we could squish in and dine alfresco together. We started out with a sampler plate, the barbecued oysters were pretty big, and cooked very lightly. I liked it very much. The addition of chopped green onions added a fresh light flavor to the pungent barbecue sauce, although mostly it tasted of barbecue sauce with a hint of the sea…
Here’s another sampler with raw sweetwaters and kumamotos and some of the grilled oysters with the garlic, butter and beer topping.
Of all the grilled things, this was my favorite by far. It enhanced the sweet flesh of the oyster, not overpowering it like the barbecue sauce did.
Then I ordered a novelty item… Grilled with Blue Cheese. The delicate flavor of the oyster was largely overwhelmed by the pungent cheese, although the sweet chewy grilled flesh made a good vehicle. I would have liked it better as a topping for crunchy garlicky bruschetta.
I’ll stick with my old standby, the small Sweetwater, which has a rich creamy texture
or the Kumamoto, which is gemlike and tiny but fills your mouth with the crisp briny flavor of the ocean.
We enjoyed the Bread Pudding with butternut squash and chorizo that was served with frilly wild arugula (8.50)
It was a savory bread pudding filled with gooey cheese and rich chewy bits of chorizo and dotted with gleaming nuggets of squash. It was delicious topped with sharp pungent shavings of parmesan cheese and the crisp peppery arugula.
We tried a couple of the pizzas, starting with Margherita (tomato sauce & fresh mozzarella) (9.50). The reputation for the pizza is well deserved, although with such light crust and toppings, I think we each should have had our own! The pizza was thin as paper in the center, which quickly became soft from the sauce, but it was ringed with billowy rims that were soft underneath the chewy crust. The tomato sauce was topped with a lacy network of melted mozzarella cheese, and I will ask for extra cheese next time.
We also enjoyed the Funghi: Roasted beech mushrooms, crimini mushroom pesto, garlic, and crescenza cheese (13.50) topped with a farm fresh egg.
The menu advertised $2.75 extra for two eggs, but I asked for just one and regretted that later on… It was expertly cooked so that the whites had barely solidified and the yolk was runny, perfect for dipping the crust in.
We finally had enough and of course had to order coffee. The cappuccinos were especially lovely.
And I couldn’t resist ordering the cookie plate ($5), that had an assortment of cookies, gingersnap, shortbread with pinenuts, chocolate, mexican wedding and a square cookie covered with crunchy grains that tasted like fruit loops. The hand made plates are rough slabs with slightly raised rims and unique shapes that are a combination of straight edges and curves.
It seemed like it was a pretty low key event, but there was quite a crowd when we left and a line was forming at the door. What a beautiful fall day to be out! I’m glad we made the effort to check out the pizza and I want to come back for one of their interesting dining partnerships with local purveyors like Far West Funghi and Fatted Calf charcuterie.