The Tablehopper

The Fillmore and Russian Hill both play host to new restaurants

There are lots of new restaurant projects around town, starting with the Fillmore district: Next door to the popular State Bird Provisions (1529 Fillmore Street, 415-795-1272) will be a second project from owners Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski called The Progress. The name is in homage to The Progress Theatre that was on the site from 1911–1925. They are still finalizing plans, and Brioza says, “We’re having so much fun with State Bird Provisions, and look forward to having the opportunity to share more this summer.”

Just up the street is the newly open Troya Fillmore (2125 Fillmore Street, 415-563-1000) in the former Citizen Cake space. This is the second location for the Turkish-Mediterranean restaurant (the original location on Clement opened six years ago). Chef Philip Busacco (previously chef de cuisine at Terzo for the last six years) will be taking a modern approach to Turkish-inspired Mediterranean dishes, and will mostly feature local and organic ingredients. Expect mezes (small plates), kebabs, entrées, and original desserts. Owner and wine director Brigitte Cullen consulted with Mark Bright (Saison) and Mark Thompson (sommelier) to customize a wine list, highlighting top Mediterranean wines as well as local favorites. Troya Fillmore will be open for lunch and dinner daily, with brunch and dinner on weekends.

In Japantown, Bushi-Tei (1638 Post Street) is sadly closed — owner “Tak” Matsuba has reportedly sold the restaurant to an unnamed buyer.

Russian Hill has two new establishments. Already drawing lines of people is Gioia Pizzeria (2240 Polk Street, 415-359-0971), the first San Francisco location of the Berkeley favorite from husband-and-wife team Will and Karen Gioia. The 1,800-square-foot restaurant is larger than the Berkeley location, featuring a semi-industrial look with warm finishes, like reclaimed wood and wainscoting, along with subway tile and concrete floors. The menu is expanded, with appetizers like salads (including a Caesar salad, and one with asparagus, farm egg, pancetta, brown butter, capers, and Parmigiano), plus two to three pastas (like radiatore with guinea hen ragu and peas) and entrées (including skirt steak with broccoli di ciccio, pickled spring onions, bagna cauda, and fried smashed potatoes). Lunchtime means there’s a Philly roast pork sandwich with broccoli rabe and provolone, a chicken Parmigiana, and an Italian muffaletta hero with mortadella, salami, shredded lettuce, and olive-caper-Calabrian chile relish. Desserts include cannoli, cookies, zeppole (doughnut-like cookies), and fruit tarts. The wine list is all Italian, with six reds and whites each, plus four to six draft beers.

Another opening on Polk Street: the new incarnation in the former Rex Cafe space, Marbella (2323 Polk Street, 415-441-2244). The Spanish-inspired restaurant is serving tapas by chef Nelson German, and features a new cocktail program (think handcrafted drinks made with fresh juices), plus a primarily Spanish wine list. The refreshed interior features wallpaper, chandeliers and a communal table.

Over in North Beach, the fourth Basque restaurant to open in the Jackson Square area is Bask (42 Columbus Avenue, 415-392-2275) in the former Pickles/Clown Alley location. Lunch includes a variety of salads and sandwiches (ringing in around $14), plus a few entrées like a roasted chicken thigh ($19) “in a finger-licking Basque sauce” (red and green bell peppers, onions and tomatoes) with rice. Dinner has a full array of hot and cold tapas (chorizo puffs, croquettes, stuffed piquillo peppers) in addition to an extensive list of larger plates, plus weekend brunch.

While Russell Jackson’s Lafitte at Pier 5 has closed, Sam Wo (813 Washington Street, 415-982-0596) in Chinatown has escaped the chopping block for now. The owner’s daughter has promised to bring the over-100-year-old Chinatown icon up to code (the Health Department had a long list, from venting to plumbing to electrical). Stand by for news on a reopening.

Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular weekly e-column about dining in S.F. (subscribe for free at and has a book, The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco. E-mail hot tips to [email protected].
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