With Valentine’s Day near, it’s time once again for our list of sexy dishes to share with someone you love. This year’s list focuses exclusively on the Northside. Of course oysters make the list, but so do anchovies, duck liver, crab, and eel.
Pizza Romana at A16
2355 Chestnut Street (at Divisadero); 415-771-2216; www.a16sf.com
Lunch: Wednesday–Friday 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.; Dinner: Monday-Thursday 5:30–10 p.m., Friday 5:30–11 p.m., Saturday 5–11 p.m., Sunday 5–10 p.m.
A16 started the whole Neapolitan pizza craze, and even with numerous competitors it still ranks as one of the best thin crust, wood-fired pies in town. The bottom is charred and smoky; the cornichone (lip or edge) is puffed with a glass-like crunch; and the crust is thin, chewy and light. For an Italian girl, there’s nothing sexier than garlic and anchovies with a bit of heat, so my pick for a pizza to share with someone you love at A16 is the Romana, a perfectly balanced combination of tomato, oregano, garlic, anchovies, black olives, calabrian chiles, and olive oil.
Duck liver mousse with almond biscuit at State Bird Provisions
1529 Fillmore Street (at O’Farrell);
415- 795-1272; www.statebirdsf.com
Dinner: Monday-Thursday 6–10 p.m., until 11 p.m. Friday–Saturday; Brunch: Sunday 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Those of you crying because the California ban means no foie gras this Valentine’s Day need cry no more — former Rubicon chefs turned married couple and co-chef/proprietors Stuart Brioza and Nicole Kasinski prove what I’ve said all along: If you’re a talented and creative cook, you don’t need to fall back on something as easy as foie gras. At their clever and acclaimed dim-sum style eatery State Bird Provisions (named for California’s State Bird, the quail) located in the heart of the Fillmore Jazz District, the couple takes soul to a whole new level with an ethereal duck liver mousse served alongside warm, springy almond cookies reminiscent of financiers (spongy French tea cakes).
Crab in secret garlic sauce at The Franciscan
Pier 43 ½ at Fisherman’s Wharf; 415-362-7733; www.franciscanrestaurant.com
Open daily 11:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m.
Admit it — there’s something sexy about garlic sauce dribbling down your date’s chin, and the West Coast’s most famous crustacean, Dungeness crab, is always sexy at the height of its season. At The Franciscan Restaurant, a classy gem located at the heart of the Wharf, you can share a meaty whole crab (two pounds plus) while overlooking some of the best views in the City (and there’s nothing sexier than that). Since The Franciscan comes from the same folks who brought us The Stinking Rose, it goes without saying that their secret garlic sauce is as addictive as it is decadent.
Super unagi at Asa Sushi
2365 Chestnut Street (at Divisadero);
Lunch: Monday–Friday 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Saturday noon–3 p.m.; Dinner: Monday–Thursday 5:30–10 p.m., Friday–Saturday until 11 p.m.
Little Asa Sushi on Chestnut Street in the Marina is one of my favorite spots for a quick weekday bite. Along with sparkling fresh fish and budget friendly lunch boxes, they serve a not-to-miss dish called Super Unagi — freshwater eel with rice and seaweed that is deep-fried, topped with thin pieces of green onion and ikura (salmon roe), and drizzled with miso dressing. It’s a surprising explosion of tastes and textures: warm, sweet, unagi enveloped in pillowy rice; briny ikura that pops and bursts in your mouth; slightly spicy scallion threads; and earthy, cool miso dressing melt together to create the perfect bite. The ambiance is casual and friendly, just right for a couple wanting a no-pressure, relaxed night with a neighborhood feel.
$1 sangria oyster shooters at Eastside West happy hour
3154 Fillmore St. (at Greenwich); 415-885-4000; www.eswsf.com
Happy Hour: 4–7 p.m.
If you want to take it down another notch on the casual scale, how about a happy hour that involves oysters and booze? Eastside West is one of the Marina’s most popular hangouts and their happy hour offerings include $2 beers, $4 cocktails, and $6 appetizers such as smoked salmon toast; grilled beef and fried chicken sliders; and fried macaroni and cheese. Best of all, you can slurp down peppery sangrita oyster shooters, with lime foam and rimmed with chili salt, for a buck apiece. If you’re in the early stages of a romantic relationship, this is a good way to take the edge off as you embark upon your very first Valentine’s Day evening.