The Other Critics

S. Irene Virbila Says the S.F. Food Scene is ‘On Fire’; Bauer Says Things at Rose Pistola Are ‘Looking Up’

A mozzarella salad with favas from Bar Agricole.
A mozzarella salad with favas from Bar Agricole. Photo: L.A. Times

L.A. Times critic S. Irene Virbila, who remains an anonymous critic at least outside of L.A., just spent a week in the Bay Area and she couldn’t be more impressed with the six meals she had at six newly opened restaurants. “The food scene there is on fire. Every meal I had was noteworthy. Either I was very lucky, or there’s a whole lot of good cooking going around up there.” She’s “completely smitten” with everything but the dessert at Plum; she loves the rabbit ciccia, cooked in duck fat, at Cotogna and says “the pizza alla puttanesca is glorious”; she calls chef Jason Fox’s food at Commonwealth “serious, but not pretentious”; she calls Mission Chinese Food “fun” and relays the news that Danny Bowien and co. are closing the place for all of July to take a trip to China with Lung Shan’s owners; she loves the cocktails and the food at Bar Agricole and calls Brandon Jew’s Manila clam chowder “fabulous”; and she calls Corey Lee’s food at Benu “more intellectual than lustful, [but] exquisitely balanced and perfectly executed.” [L.A. Times]

Meanwhile, Michael Bauer files his Thursday update review of fifteen-year-old Rose Pistola, saying the North Beach restaurant is “still not as good as it when it opened, but things are looking up.” He upgrades the place to two and a half stars from the two stars it previously garnered in 2008, saying that the octopus salad has been “nicely updated,” and a New York strip that he’d previously called “anemic” was now “rejuvenated” with a rosemary marinade. The chicken al mattone remains, he says, “best forgotten,” but the desserts are “less expensive, larger and better than before.” [Chron]

S. Irene Virbila Says the S.F. Food Scene is ‘On Fire’; Bauer Says