I have been waiting to have an opportunity to go to Cotogna http://www.cotognasf.com/, Michael Tusk's 2011 (James Beard Award winner http://www.thefeast.com/sanfrancisco/restaurants/James-Beard-121565134.html) newer San Francisco restaurant in Jackson Square. I had gone to Quince at the old location on the recommendation of one of my neighbors at the time Mignon and Don Tusk, Michael's Parents. I first sampled Michael's food at Coyote Cafe when Mark Miller still owned it during the Santa Fe Wine and Chili Festival. He served a ravioli with ricotta cheese and a egg yolk covered with brown butter and a touch of balsamic vinegar, delicious.
Cotogna is a much more casual Italian rustica eatery. Reservations are scarce but we were lucky enough to score 3 seats at the grill counter. I was with my foodie buddies out to try a new SF place. Cotogna is small and comfortable with a wood burning grill and brick oven. We decided to go with the smaller plates. I started out with on premise made Mortadella, pickled carrots and cauliflower and fried pizza dough. Sounds different but it works, the Mortadella was some of the best I have had. My friends started out with the Pizza Margherita and tempura fried vegetables. Again not something that sounds special but the preparation separated these dishes from any other. I found my favorite farm egg raviolo which was again exceptional. For the next round my Friends had the Pizza Blanca with asparagus and spring onion, the Tagliatelle with ragu of duck and I had the spring lamb cappelletti both dishes were perfect and delicious. I like sitting at the grill counter it changes the eating experience. since I like to cook I enjoy talking to the chefs and finding out what they are cooking. Cotogna has a real Italian Menu which includes Rabbit, Sardines, Branzino, Lamb all the proteins you would expect to find in Italy. All the ingredients are purchased through local purveyors this is what seperates Cotogna from other great Italian eateries. What I always like is the difference in fresh pasta, the chefs at Cotogna prepared it perfectly. To top it off our chefs treated us to 2 dishes singing nettle torteloni with black olives and pine nuts and Agnolotti "dal plin" which are pinched lamb pasta pockets with blue cheese YUM!! To top it off, Chef Tusk came and visited us just as we were wrapping it up for the evening. Cotogna is a must go in San Francisco, best of all it is terrific value.