San Francisco has no shortage of excellent restaurants, but one that stood out for me was a jewel box, of one-star Michelin restaurant, Cotogna, located at 490 Pacific Avenue, on the corner of Montgomery and Pacific Avenues.

The name Cotogna is Italian for “Quince” and is the more casual sister restaurant of Michelin three-star restaurant Quince by Michael and Lindsey Tusk, which happens to be located right next door.

This casual and cool fifty-seat restaurant is the antithesis of its counterpart. It is lively, noisy, tables are close together, there are no table cloths or exquisite tableware. There are exposed bricks, a partially opened kitchen where the wood-burning oven is on display. You can eat at the bar or at the table, and enjoy a low-key, unpretentious meal – Not to say we didn’t receive good service – they kept refolding my napkin every time I got up to snap a photo, our water was continuously refilled, etc.

BUT what stands out is the quality of the food! Things like the vegetables tasting like they were picked the same day – my meal brought me such absolute joy, I was having a love affair with the kitchen.

Chef Tusk serves a seasonally changing menu featuring rustic Italian fare. We started with an excellent prosciutto with gnocco fritto and Lambrusco pickled onions. Next up, the tomato bruschetta with velour beans, lemon cucumber, and aioli. This is how vegetables are supposed to taste. All the pizza and focaccia we glimpsed at other tables looked palate-pleasing. Chef’s pastas are all superb, but the standout one above all others was his corn triangoli with chives. It was bites of orgasmic heaven that literally had our tastebuds dancing. The ravioli di ricotta also outshone all other renditions I’ve ever had.

Even dessert was outstanding. Each day the restaurant produces new flavours of gelato. Ours was a mint stracciatella that was insanely delicious. We also had a pleasant-tasting Fresh Run Farm Gravenstein apple crostata with homemade vanilla ice cream.
Although there is a nice craft cocktail list, and wines that focused primarily on Italian producers, we opted for a nonalcoholic craft drink. Ours was a Cotogna Chinotto, made with wood oven-fired citrus, juniper berries, and spices and it was excellent.

Cotogna is not only known for their homemade pastas but also their spit-roasted meats and seafood roasted in the restaurant’s wood-burning oven. The menu changes daily according to what is growing at local farms. But if I can give you some advice, order the pasta!

I would also recommend eating indoors as there was an unpleasant odor on the street. (possibly a sewage smell)

Highly recommend.

Happy dining,
Shanea

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