Chef-owner Ruggero Gadaldi struck culinary gold (or at least silver) on Polk with Antica and Pesce. In April 2008, he opened a stylish pizza-driven Italian restaurant called Beretta in the Mission District, in the former home of the Last Supper Club. He’s clearly tapped into the scene, offering great cocktails, Italian comfort food and a blackbird sign so stylish that it’s been stolen twice.
Beretta’s bartender was rocking two Boston shakers and mutton chops, but he wasn’t just about flash. He also produced two excellent cocktails ($9 apiece). The effervescent Airmail combined rum, honey, lime and prosecco. The Lonsdale was sweeter and pulpier, utilizing gin, apple, lemon, basil and honey. Both cocktails were well-balanced and refreshing.
The antipasti ($6 each) were clearly the highlight from a food perspective. The atypical eggplant caponatina incorporated supple strips of roasted eggplant, tomatoes, green olives and a creamy pepper-dusted dollop of burrata ($3 extra).
For dessert, we split a Hitachino Espresso Stout ice cream float ($9). The flavor was good, especially when our scoop of panna gelato melted into the rich, malty beer. Unfortunately, the ratio was off-kilter, with too much gelato and not enough beer.
Some tastes were better than others, but Gadaldi clearly understands what it takes to to please discriminating San Franciscans. Antica, Pesce and Beretta are all going strong, and he has two more concepts in the works with Adriano Paganini and Deborah Blum, a Marina “beerzeria” and a Castro spot called Starbelly.