This casual restaurant, located in the Marina neighborhood of San Francisco, features the cuisine of Campania and the pizzas of Naples. I had heard the staff could be difficult, but we had fabulous service. For those who love Italian wines, the selection of offerings from the Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, and the islands of Sardinia and Sicily is remarkable. Many small boutique wineries are represented. (I wished I had Antonio Galloni with me to help navigate this impressive list, but our sommelier, Emily, was very knowledgeable about the wines.) All aspects of the meal were delicious. The hor d’oeuvres were excellent, and I even enjoyed the tripe ragout. The southern Italian-styled, thin crust pizzas were very authentic with delicious fresh tomato sauces and excellent textural profiles.
The wines included a magnum of non-vintage Bérèche Blanc de Blancs Brut Reserve Champagne. That was followed by two spectacular 2007 Châteauneuf du Papes, the Cuvée da Capo and St.-Prefert’s Charles Giraud, both in magnum. Despite decanting, the Capo from magnum was completely closed as opposed to a 750 ml bottle I had had several weeks earlier. While loaded with potential, the magnum was firm, somewhat austere and hard to penetrate despite all the coaxing we gave it. In contrast, the 2007 St.-Prefert Charles Giraud (a wine I have consistently rated 100) offered up copious notes of lavender, garrigue, blueberries, black raspberries, pepper and meat juices, gobs of fruit and a full-bodied texture. It is a tour de force in winemaking. We also had a bottle of the 2006 Montevetrano from Compania, which rivaled the Cuvée da Capo in terms of being closed. However, it is bursting with potential with an inky/purple color (much darker than either Châteauneuf du Pape). This is one of my favorite Italian wines, but most vintages require 7-8 years of cellaring. The 2006 has two decades of positive evolution ahead of it.
This is another casual, fun, noisy, but delicious San Francisco bistro-styled restaurant with a singular style of cuisine. I highly recommend it.
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Petit Louis Bistro
A lookalike, authentic French bistro, Petit Louis in Baltimore's Roland Park is the creation of restauranteurs par excellence Cindy Wolf and Tony Foreman. You feel like you’ve walked into a bistro on the Left Bank of Paris when you enter Petit Louis. The food is classic bistro, and they do it well. All of the courses we had were flavorful, sometimes a trifle rustic, but delicious in their intensity. This was good comfort food prepared extremely well. The wines started with one of the major surprises for me over the last year, the 2006 sparking wine from Tony Soter in Oregon. I had this several times while I was out visiting Oregon, and I had always been impressed, but this is a 10-year-old sparking Rosé that is just sensational, and I’m talking world class—it’s that good. Something this good from France would cost at least two to three times as much, so kudos to Tony Soter. The 1995 Billaud-Simon Chablis Mont de Milieu was oxidized and undrinkable. The 1996 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos St. Urbain Rangen de Thann was sweet, and although it went well with the foie gras, it was just a little too unctuous and sweet a wine...