If the name Spaghetti Bros. evokes visions of hearty red sauce, beefy meatballs, and piles of pasta like Mama used to make, you’ll need to revise your thinking. Despite the decidedly retro name, Spaghetti Bros. on Scott Street is anything but traditional.
Owned by Erik Lowe and Aaron Toensing and managed by William Sanders, this new bar and restaurant has a polished, urban vibe. Lowe was formerly chef de cuisine at Bix before helping to reopen the popular Fog City Diner. Toensing, a California Culinary Academy graduate, led the pastry program at Bix, where he met Lowe. The two teamed up at Fog City before deciding to open Spaghetti Bros. Sanders was the former general manager at Bix, where he met with Toensing and Sanders.
The Bix connection probably has a lot to do with the tony, upscale ambiance of Spaghetti Bros., which is highlighted by a wrap-around, copper-topped bar with cushy red booths, white tablecloths, and lots of banquet seating in the main dining room, gold metal ceilings, and glowing overhead lighting. The only tiny downside is that once inside, you could be in any classy restaurant in any city, including San Francisco.
Like Bix, the bar is a big draw. Here you’ll find a lengthy list of beers, wine, bourbon, whiskey, and every other kind of spirit, aperitif, and liqueur — domestic and imported. The bar menu offers everything from aged Scotch to single-malt American whiskey to grappa to cognac and tequila, and a wine list that sports varietals from all over the world. The restaurant also has the requisite specialty cocktails, including the Paper Plane with bourdon, Aperol, Cadamaro, and lemon ($13); and the Elixir No. 4 with rye whiskey, Benedictino, green chartreuse, and lime juice ($13); and the Dubliner featuring Irish whiskey and hot-spiced apple cider ($12).
The menu, which changes seasonally, has a modern, Italian bent with a strong California influence. Starters include pickled garden vegetables ($7), prosciutto and griddled spiced pears ($9), escargot ($9), and two of the most “traditional” items at Spaghetti Bros.: Aaron’s garlic bread ($8), and toasted raviolis and marinara ($8). This appetizer-sized plate of slightly crisped ravioli filled with creamy cheese resting atop a pool of flavorful red sauce is a winner.
Starters or light meals include a chopped salad with cucumber, radish, garbanzo beans, feta, sharp Cheddar, and local salami ($14); buratta with little gem lettuce, hazelnuts, Fresno peppers, and chervil ($15); heirloom radicchio with crispy quinoa, toasted seeds, herbs, and buttermilk dressing ($12); and black-eyed pea soup with ham hock tortellini and pickled cabbage ($11) — just right for a chilly winter night.
Spaghetti Bros.’ two spaghetti dishes, spaghetti cacio e pepe ($14) and spaghetti with local uni butter ($21) are both delicious and delightfully light. Richer choices are the green chili mac ‘n’ cheese ($16) and the strozzappreti with blue crab, lemon beurre blanc, and chives ($19). The richest pasta of all is the rigatoni with short rib sugo, Strauss butter, and breadcrumbs ($22).
Other entrees include a dinner salad with farmers’ market vegetables, Tuscan kale, and chickpea vinaigrette ($17); McFarland Springs trout with grilled broccoli, fingerling potatoes, and warm olives ($24); cioppino with grilled bread and vadouvan (market priced); Gulf flounder with cannellini beans, melted leeks, and lemon-caviar sauce ($26); and duck scaloppini with red cabbage and lemon-caper sauce ($25). Spaghetti Bros.’ featured winter dish is “mom” chops —Rancho Llano Seco pork from Chico —with buttered house-made egg noodles and mushroom gravy ($26). And you have to sample Lowe’s tribute to his grandmother’s cooking: the sweet and savory Swedish meatballs with chanterelle mushrooms, cipollini onions, and lingonberries ($23).
There are plenty of sweets (those cutting out sugar, beware!) on the dessert menu, including house-made milk chocolate, pistachio, and brandied cherry gelato ($7); spumoni ($10); and a scrumptious combo of lemon olive oil cake and ricotta cheesecake with huckleberries ($10). There’s also maple semifreddo with allspice crumble, tiramisu with vanilla wafers, aged rum, chocolate pudding, and whipped cream ($10); and one lighter choice; blood orange and oroblanca (sweet seedless citrus fruit similar to grapefruit) granita with vanilla meringue ($9).
Spaghetti Bros. brings a touch of class to the Marina in the form of a bar and restaurant with ample space offering sensibly priced, well-prepared food and drink, and a nod to the neighborhood’s Italian heritage.
Spaghetti Bros.: 3213 Scott Street, 415-400-8500, spaghettibrossf.com. Monday–Friday 5:30–10 p.m., Saturday–Sunday 5:30–11 p.m., bar opens at 4:30 p.m. (valet parking available at 5 p.m.)