The Other Critics

Bauer Says La Ciccia Has ‘Food That Speaks From the Soul’; Sens Joins the Boxing Room Cheer Squad; Kauffman Says Red Tavern Is ‘Never Boring’

La Ciccia's fregola with cured tuna heart, which was featured in <a href=our Best Pastas feature earlier this year.">
La Ciccia’s fregola with cured tuna heart, which was featured in our Best Pastas feature earlier this year. Photo: Courtesy of La Ciccia

Mr. Bauer returns to five-year-old Sardinian restaurant La Ciccia in Noe Valley and says that chef Massimiliano Conti’s food is “satisfying” and “speaks from the soul” and “captures the spirit of the region that inspired it.” He notes the signature octopus stew, which he writes, “speaks to everything good and distinctive about the menu,” and the fregola with sea urchin and cured tuna heart, as well as a “bracing” dish of penne with sausage, beef, and goat ragout. Also, he pays special tribute to Conti’s wife, Lorella, who is a constant and gracious presence in the dining room with extensive knowledge of the wine list. All told, even though he says the tiny place can feel a bit cramped, he updates them with two and a half stars. [Chron]

Over at San Francisco magazine, critic Josh Sens joins in the unanimous praise for Boxing Room. He’s glad to find they went easy on the Big Easy references in the decor, but that “Hardly does a Southern mainstay get left out—or mistreated” on the New Orleans-driven menu. He compliments chef Justin Simoneaux’s “thick and complex” gumbo, as well as his étouffée and jambalaya. And he’s a fan of everything from the cajun boiled peanuts (“salt-of-the-earth characters that, as you devour them, hit you with a gentle cayenne kick”) to the crispy boudin balls and fried chicken. He says Bill Corbett stumbles a bit with dessert, noting a cobbler too “stingy” with fruit, and that the servers can tend toward the overly solicitous, but all in all he sounds right pleased. [SF Mag, Earlier reviews]

And last but not least we have Jonathan Kauffman following, coincidentally, in Patricia Unterman’s recent footsteps in reviewing a Russian place in the Outer Richmond. He takes on Red Tavern, which recently replaced Sadko at 2229 Clement Street, and he finds the food a little inconsistent, but, in his three visits, “never boring.” Of the decor he notes, “There’s an awful lot of red, as you’d expect of a place called the Red Tavern, and also paintings of clowns, which you might not.” He compliments the tortellini-like Siberian pelmeni, the “showpiece” beef stroganoff, and says the borscht is “quite good.” But he recommends avoiding the more European dishes, like the expensive and bad rabbit stew. [SF Weekly]

Bauer Says La Ciccia Has ‘Food That Speaks From the Soul’; Sens