Check, Please! Bay Area Mediterranean-Themed Restaurant Episode

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  Announcer: A KQED TELEVISION PRODUCTION.

  Man: IT'S LIKE HOLY MOTHER OF COMFORT FOOD.

Kastner: THROW IT DOWN.

IT'S NOODLE CRACK.

Patel: YOU HAVE TO BE READY FOR THE HEART ATTACK ON A PLATTER.

Crowell: OKAY, I'M THE BACON GUY.

Man: OH, I JUST DID A JIG EVERY TIME I DIPPED INTO IT.

Man #2: IT JUST COMPLETELY BLEW MY MIND.

Woman: IT FELT LIKE I HAD A MOUTHFUL OF RAW VEGETABLES AND DRY DOUGH.

Sbrocco: OH, PLEASE.

I WANT THE DESSERT FIRST! [ LAUGHS ] I TOLD HIM HE HAD TO WAIT.

    Sbrocco: HI, I'M LESLIE SBROCCO.

WELCOME TO "CHECK, PLEASE! BAY AREA," THE SHOW WHERE REGULAR BAY AREA RESIDENTS REVIEW AND TALK ABOUT THEIR FAVORITE RESTAURANTS.

WE HAVE THREE GUESTS, AND EACH ONE RECOMMENDS ONE OF THEIR FAVORITE SPOTS, AND THE OTHER TWO GO CHECK THEM OUT TO SEE WHAT THEY THINK.

THIS WEEK, WE HAVE A SPECIAL SHOW, AS WE'RE GOING TO CELEBRATE THE FOOD OF THE MEDITERRANEAN.

WE'RE REVISITING THREE SAN FRANCISCO RESTAURANTS FROM PAST EPISODES.

NOW, TO BE HONEST, NOT MUCH HAS CHANGED AT ANY OF THESE SPOTS, AND THAT'S A GOOD THING.

EACH CHEF AND OWNER IS STILL TAKING PRIDE IN THE AUTHENTICITY AND TRADITIONS OF THEIR RESPECTIVE REGIONAL CUISINES.

OUR FIRST SPOT, RISTORANTE IDEALE, WAS SELECTED BY DAVID NALEWAY.

IT TAKES PLEASURE SERVING UP DISHES FROM THE HEART OF ITALY, TRADITIONAL DISHES FROM ROME.

YOU'LL FIND THE SAME FRESH PASTA AND BREAD, THE SAME FAMILIES AND FRIENDS DINING THERE.

MMM, AND YOU MIGHT FIND DAVID SHEDDING A TEAR OF HAPPINESS AT THE THOUGHT OF HIS FAVORITE PLACE ON GRANT STREET IN SAN FRANCISCO.

IT'S RISTORANTE IDEALE.

  Bruschi: MY NAME IS MAURIZIO BRUSCHI.

I'M THE CHEF/OWNER OF RISTORANTE IDEALE.

I STARTED WORKING THE RESTAURANT AT 16 YEARS OLD WITH MY PARENTS IN ROME, AND I FOUND OUT IT WAS REALLY LOVELY, AND I LIKED THE JOB, COOKING.

AND I STILL CONTINUE THE SIMILAR RECIPES IN IDEALE.

  THE COOKING WE DO HERE IN IDEALE IS A ROMAN CUISINE.

WE MAKE THE FRESH PASTA AND THE PIZZA AND THE BREAD DAILY.

I TRY TO BE TRADITIONAL WITH VERY SIMPLE PASTA AND FISH AND MEAT.

THEY ARE VERY GOOD PRICE.

THE ROMAN PIZZA IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM DIFFERENT PLACES IN ITALY.

WHEN THE CRUST IS VERY THIN, IT KEEPS THE PIZZA VERY LIGHT.

MOST OF OUR WINE IS FROM ITALY, AND WE TRY TO GIVE THE RIGHT PRICE.

I TRY ALL THE WINE, AND I PICK THE ONE WITH THE BEST VALUE.

  I LIKE TO GO AROUND THE TABLES AND TALK TO ALL MY CUSTOMERS.

THAT'S WHY I ENJOY MY BUSINESS.

  I LIKE TO SEE PEOPLE COME SEE MY PLACE AND ENJOY THE DINNER.

  Sbrocco: DAVID, YOU'RE CRYING OVER HERE.

-LET ME GET SOME TEARS.

-Naleway: I'M SORRY.

Sbrocco: WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS RESTAURANT -THAT DOES THAT TO YOU? -Naleway: IT IS.

THERE'S SO MANY GREAT RESTAURANTS IN THE BAY AREA AND AROUND THIS STATE TO GO TO.

BUT THERE'S VERY FEW THAT TAKE ME TO A DIFFERENT SPOT.

AND WHEN YOU HEAR ITALIAN RESTAURANT, THEY'RE DELICIOUS, BUT THERE'S ALWAYS A CALIFORNIA TAKE ON IT.

THIS TRULY IS AN ITALIAN RESTAURANT.

IT IS LOUD, IT'S CROWDED, IT'S NOISY, THE FOOD IS PHENOMENAL.

IF THERE'S ONE DISH I HAVE BEFORE I DIED, IT WOULD BE THE ZUCCHINE TARTUFATE.

IT IS JUST — IT'S SO SIMPLE.

IT'S RAW ZUCCHINI, SOME TRUFFLE OIL, A LITTLE BIT OF CITRUS, PUT ON TOP OF A LITTLE CROSTINI AND JUST A LITTLE BIT OF PARMESAN ON TOP.

AND WE TOOK SIX PEOPLE FOR DINNER.

WE WENT THROUGH FOUR ORDERS OF THAT AS AN APPETIZER, ALONE.

[ LAUGHTER ] Sbrocco: IT SOUNDS GOOD.

Naleway: BUT I GREW UP IN A BIG ITALIAN FAMILY.

IT REMINDS ME OF THE FOOD MY NONNA USED TO MAKE.

I GET ON MY SOAPBOX.

I'M TRADITIONAL.

AND I GO INTO A RESTAURANT, AND I SEE SOMETHING LIKE SPAGHETTI CARBONARA.

AND MY WIFE JUST RUNS WHEN IT'S ON THE MENU BECAUSE IT'S NEVER HOW THEY MAKE IT IN ROME, EXCEPT IN THIS PLACE.

WE DON'T PUT CREAM IN CARBONARA.

DOESN'T HAPPEN.

NOTHING ELSE GOES IN THERE BUT THE PORK, THE PASTA, SOME OIL, A LITTLE BIT OF CHEESE, AND AN EGG TO STIR IT ALL UP.

AND THEY DO IT EXACTLY RIGHT TIME AFTER TIME.

BEEN GOING THERE FOR A LONG, LONG TIME.

Sbrocco: WELL, IT'S BEEN OPEN SINCE 1993.

Naleway: EXACTLY.

Sbrocco: IT'S BEEN A NORTH BEACH ICON, REALLY, FOR A LONG TIME.

Naleway: YES, I JUST LOVE IT, AND THE SERVICE IS GREAT.

THE WINE LIST, YOU KNOW, YOU GET SPOILED GOING OUT ALL THE TIME.

CLEARLY, I DO.

[ LAUGHTER ] BUT I LOOK AT THAT WINE LIST, AND IT'S STUFF I'VE NEVER, EVER SEEN.

AND THEY'VE GOT MY FAVORITE WHITE ITALIAN MAKER, YURMON, IS ON THAT LIST.

Sbrocco: OH, YURMON'S FABULOUS.

Naleway: AND YOU DON'T SEE IT VERY OFTEN.

SO, THE WINE LIST IS GREAT, THE SERVERS ARE GREAT.

THEY'RE TOLERANT OF MY BAD ITALIAN, WHICH I MESS UP WORDS ALL THE TIME.

Sbrocco: JUST USE YOUR HANDS.

JUST USE YOUR HANDS.

WERE YOU GUYS BROUGHT TO TEARS BY THIS RESTAURANT? Phillips: WELL, YOU KNOW, WHEN WE WALKED IN, WE SAT DOWN, AND THE WAITER IMMEDIATELY GREETED US WITH THIS THICK ITALIAN ACCENT.

WE JUST KNEW.

IT REALLY DID FEEL LIKE WE WERE SOMEWHERE ELSE OTHER THAN IN THE HEART OF NORTH BEACH.

AND AS WE WERE LOOKING OVER THE MENU, A FRIEND OF MINE SAID, "OH, WELL, LET'S GET THE CALAMARI.

" I LOVE CALAMARI.

AND WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING AT IT ON THE MENU, I SAID, "YES, LET'S ORDER IT.

" AND IT CAME — I WAS EXPECTING DEEP-FRIED CALAMARI LIKE YOU WOULD NORMALLY GET, AND IT IS THIS BEAUTIFUL GRILLED CALAMARI THAT IS SO FRESH AND TENDER.

IT'S LIKE YOU'RE EATING STEAK.

Naleway: ON THE ARUGULA.

Phillips: YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW.

OH, IT'S OUTSTANDING.

Naleway: I'M GONNA BREAK A TEAR RIGHT NOW.

[ LAUGHTER ] Gonzales: WELL, WE HAD A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE.

Sbrocco: OH, TEARS IN A DIFFERENT WAY.

Gonzales: WELL, THE CALAMARI, I THINK FOR US, JUST WASN'T QUITE THE RIGHT MIX AND IT WAS A LITTLE BIT TOUGH.

AND I THINK WE MIGHT HAVE HAD A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE, 'CAUSE WE DIDN'T HAVE THAT REALLY WARM, WELL GREETING WHEN WE GOT THERE.

BUT WE DID TRY SOME OF THE APPETIZERS, AND THE THING WE REALLY LOVED WAS THE PIZZA.

SO, FOR US, IT WAS THAT VERY CRACKER-LIKE CRUST WITH THE — WE HAD THE PROSCIUTTO, 'CAUSE I LOVE PROSCIUTTO, AND THE MOZZARELLA.

AND THAT FOR US WAS REALLY BY FAR THE BEST DISH THAT WE HAD ON THE MENU.

Naleway: WHAT ABOUT BREAD? HE MAKES HIS OWN BREAD.

Gonzales: THAT WAS THE BEST.

Phillips: AND HOUSE-MADE PASTAS.

Naleway: EXACTLY.

Phillips: AND IT HAS SO MUCH OF A EUROPEAN FLAVOR IN THERE.

Naleway: BUT, I MEAN, YOU GO IN THE BAR, EVERYBODY'S SPEAKING ITALIAN.

REMINDS ME WHEN I WAS A KID GOING TO NORTH BEACH, YOU KNOW, YOU'D GO THERE AND ALL THE ITALIANS WERE THERE.

AND THAT STILL CARRIES ON.

I JUST LOVE THE PLACE.

Sbrocco: NOW, WAS IT REALLY THE SERVICE THAT YOU WEREN'T.

? Gonzales: I THINK IT WAS JUST A COMBINATION OF THINGS.

'CAUSE I FELT LIKE, YOU KNOW, WE ASKED THE WAITER, LIKE, "WHAT ARE YOUR SIGNATURE DISHES?" AND HE LISTED MOST OF THE MENU.

SO, WE WERE STRUGGLING TO FIGURE OUT.

BUT WE DID HAVE A FAMILY-STYLE MEAL, AND I THINK JUST FOR US THAT NIGHT, MAYBE, AGAIN, IT WAS AN OFF NIGHT.

THE FOOD DIDN'T HAVE A LOT OF THE FLAVORS THAT I EXPECTED FOR SOMETHING REALLY TRADITIONAL.

SO, WE HAD THE BUCATINI, WE HAD THE CARBONARA, AND THEN WE ALSO HAD THE LASAGNA.

AND THEN WE HAD — 'CAUSE WE DID FAMILY STYLE.

I THINK THAT NIGHT IT WAS A VEAL SHANK AND THE SOLE.

AND, SO, AGAIN, I THINK JUST THE BALANCE OF FLAVORS, AND MAYBE IT WAS AN OFF NIGHT.

Phillips: WELL, AND WITH RESPECT TO THE SERVICE, I MEAN, IT'S BASICALLY A TWO-ROOM RESTAURANT.

AND I NOTICED THAT OUR WAITER AND HIS ASSOCIATED BUSPERSON WAS BASICALLY SERVING THE ENTIRE ROOM.

AND I WAS IMPRESSED WITH THE FACT THAT I FELT LIKE WE WERE GETTING PERSONALIZED SERVICE EVEN THOUGH HE WAS DEALING WITH A WHOLE ROOM OF PEOPLE.

I THOUGHT IT WAS REMARKABLE.

Sbrocco: AND LET'S TALK TIRAMISU.

Naleway: TIRAMISU WAS A HIT AT THE TABLE.

EVERYBODY LOVES HIS TIRAMISU.

IT'S PRETTY DARN GOOD.

I DON'T LIKE TIRAMISU VERY MUCH, BUT THIS ONE FLOATS AND IT'S LIGHT AND GETS OFF THE PLATE AND GETS RIGHT TO YOU.

SO, EVERYBODY LOVED THE TIRAMISU.

Phillips: REMARKABLE.

AND WE MADE RESERVATIONS ON OpenTable, AS WE DO WITH MOST ALL THE RESTAURANTS, AND I MADE A NOTATION ON THE RESERVATION THAT WE WERE CELEBRATING A FRIEND'S BIRTHDAY.

IT WAS NEVER MENTIONED AT THE RESTAURANT, AND ALL OF A SUDDEN, WE WERE DONE WITH OUR ENTRéES AND APPEARED A TIRAMISU WITH A CANDLE.

BEAUTIFULLY DONE.

Sbrocco: NOW, TELL, IF SOMEBODY WAS GOING, WHAT SHOULD THEY ABSOLUTELY NOT MISS? Naleway: WELL, CLEARLY THE ZUCCHINE TARTUFATE.

SHOULDN'T MISS THE LASAGNA.

IT IS LIKE MY GRANDMOTHER'S LASAGNA.

IT FLOATS, TOO.

IT'S NOT BAKED.

IT'S JUST LAYERED WITH THE FRESH PASTA.

THE ZUPPA DI PESCE, YOU KNOW, IS WHAT EVERY BOWL OF CIOPPINO IN SAN FRANCISCO WANTS TO BE.

[ LAUGHTER ] I MEAN, ONE OF THE PEOPLE WITH US HAD NEVER HAD BAD CIOPPINO.

Sbrocco: YOU'LL HAVE TO TRY THAT NEXT TIME.

Gonzales: THAT OR THE ZUCCHINI.

Naleway: BY THE TIME ALL THE SEAFOOD'S GONE, EVERYBODY'S SOPPING IT UP WITH THE BREAD OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

Sbrocco: RIGHT.

NOW, THIS IS YOUR RESTAURANT.

-AND WRAP IT UP FOR US, DAVID.

-Naleway: SURE.

I THINK THAT IF YOU WANT TO TAKE A STEP BACK AND LEAVE SAN FRANCISCO AND GO TO A PLACE THAT'S GOT A SENSE OF SOME OTHER PLACE, THIS IS THE SPOT TO GO.

THE FOOD IS FRESH.

THEY MAKE ALL THEIR PASTAS.

IT'S NOISY, IT'S A TRAIN WRECK, BUT IT ALWAYS WORKS OUT FOR THE BEST.

Sbrocco: RIGHT.

RUTH-ANN? Gonzales: I THINK FOR ONE DISH, I PROBABLY WOULDN'T RETURN, BUT IF YOU ARE THERE, I WOULD DEFINITELY TRY THE PIZZA.

Sbrocco: OKAY.

AND SCOTT? Phillips: WOW, IT'S GREAT TO KNOW ANOTHER GREAT, UNKNOWN SPOT — UNKNOWN TO ME, ANYWAY — IN NORTH BEACH.

GO FOR THE CALAMARI — GRILLED CALAMARI.

IT'S OUT OF THIS WORLD.

Sbrocco: ALL RIGHT.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO TRY RISTORANTE IDEALE, IT'S ON GRANT AND VALLEJO IN SAN FRANCISCO.

THE TELEPHONE NUMBER IS 415-391-4129.

IT'S OPEN FOR DINNER EVERY DAY, RESERVATIONS ARE RECOMMENDED, AND THE AVERAGE TAB PER PERSON WITHOUT DRINKS IS AROUND $30.

  NEXT, DUNCAN COOK SHARED HIS FAVORITE MIDDLE-EASTERN RESTAURANT THAT'S BEEN AROUND FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS — LA MEDITERRANéE.

OWNERS GARBIS AND LEVON SERVE UP CRISPY WRAPPERS SURROUNDING FLAVORFUL FILLINGS AND MOUTHWATERING MEDITERRANEAN FARE AT THEIR LOCATIONS.

YOU'LL STILL FIND ALL OF THE DISHES DISCUSSED IN THE SHOW, AND NOW THERE'S A GLUTEN-FREE AND VEGAN MENU.

ON COLLEGE AVENUE IN BERKELEY, IT'S CALLED LA MEDITERRANéE.

  Bedrossian: I'M LEVON FROM LEBANON, AND A LOT OF THE RECIPES, LIKE THE CHICKEN CILICIA, COMES FROM MY GRANDMOTHER'S RECIPE.

AS A CHILD, I REMEMBER GOING THERE ON SUNDAYS AND WHERE I COULDN'T WAIT TO GET THERE.

SO I USE THE SAME INGREDIENTS, BUT I PRESENT IT IN A DIFFERENT WAY.

  MEDITERRANEAN FOOD IS, BY NATURE, A VERY SENSUAL FOOD.

THERE IS SUNSHINE AND LOTS OF COLORS AND LOTS OF AROMAS AND SMELLS.

AND TO ADD TO THAT, THE FINGER-FOOD ASPECT REALLY MAKES IT MORE SENSUAL AND A LOT MORE FUN TO EAT THAT WAY.

  Baghdassarian: WHEN WE WERE LOOKING FOR A RESTAURANT IN BERKELEY, IT WAS VERY IMPORTANT FOR ME TO HAVE A TERRACE AND POSSIBLY SIDEWALK TABLES, YOU KNOW, AND THE MEDITERRANEAN ATMOSPHERE.

JUST REMINDED ME OF CAFéS AND PLACES IN BEIRUT AND GREECE AND ALL OVER THE MEDITERRANEAN.

SO I FEEL AT HOME.

Bedrossian: ALMOST 30 YEARS, AND I CAN STILL KEEP MY SMILE.

AND I DO IT WITH LOVE.

ONE OF MY WISHES WAS ANYONE WHO WALKED INTO LA MED, ANY LA MED, THAT WOULD WALK OUT HAPPIER THAN THEY CAME IN.

  Sbrocco: ALL RIGHT, DUNCAN.

YOU THINK PEOPLE SHOULD BE DANCING TO THE MUSIC HERE.

Cook: I DO.

Sbrocco: AT LA MEDITERRAN-éE, OR MEDITERRAN-é? Cook: YOU KNOW, I JUST SAY "LA MED" MOST OF THE TIME.

YEAH, IT'S ALWAYS SO ENERGETIC.

I WISH THEY HAD A DANCE FLOOR.

THEY PROBABLY DON'T HAVE A CABARET LICENSE, WHICH IS HOW THAT KIND OF THING GOES.

Sbrocco: BUT YOU ALWAYS FEEL THE NEED TO GROVE? Cook: I COULD DO SOME CHAIR DANCING, YOU KNOW? GET IT GOING ON.

YEAH, I LOVE IT.

Sbrocco: AND WHAT DO YOU GET WHEN YOU'RE THERE? Cook: SAME THING EVERY TIME FOR EIGHT YEARS.

I GET THE THREE FILLO COMBO.

Muniosguren: OH, MY GOD.

YEAH.

Cook: SAME THING FOR EIGHT YEARS.

AND A LOT OF MY FRIENDS MAKE FUN OF ME, 'CAUSE I'M ALWAYS AFTER THE PERFECT BITE.

AND WHAT I'LL DO IS I'LL LOOK AT THE PLATE, SCOOP UP SOMETHING, AND ADD TO WHERE ON MY FORK, THERE ARE FOUR FLAVORS OR MORE.

Sbrocco: RIGHT.

Cook: AND I'LL CUT OFF A PIECE OF THE GARNISH THEY HAVE — THEY'VE GOT LIKE A LITTLE PINEAPPLE, A LITTLE ORANGE, A LITTLE BANANA, AND I'LL CUT OFF A PIECE OF THAT.

Muniosguren: CUT A LITTLE CHEESE, TOO.

Cook: YEAH, THE MUENSTER CHEESE.

Muniosguren: ON THE SIDE, YES.

Cook: THE COMBINATIONS ARE — IF I WAS A MATHEMATICIAN, I'D JUST SPOUT IT OFF.

BUT THERE'S FOUR CAKES, FOUR GARNISHES.

Sbrocco: AND THE COMBINATION OF TRYING TO GET THAT PERFECT BITE IS JUST INFINITESIMAL? Cook: INFINITESIMAL.

IT JUST GETS ME GOING.

Muniosguren: ALL THE FLAVORS WERE ABSOLUTELY AMAZING.

WE SAVED THE CHICKEN ONE FOR LAST.

Cook: OH, OKAY.

THE CHICKEN CILICIA.

Muniosguren: YES, OH, MY GOD.

Cook: WITH THE CINNAMON AND GARBANZO BEAN? Muniosguren: WE WEREN'T EXPECTING IT TO BE SWEET.

Sbrocco: SO, IT HAS A LITTLE SWEET CHARACTER TO IT, TOO? Muniosguren: YEAH, AND IT WAS ALMOST LIKE, "IS THIS THE DESSERT FILLO PASTRY?" BECAUSE IT WAS ABSOLUTELY SHOCKING.

AND WE HAD GOT ON THE SIDE THE LEMON CHICKEN SOUP.

AND THAT WAS A FLAVOR WE WEREN'T EXPECTING, AND IT WAS ABSOLUTELY REMARKABLE.

Sbrocco: THE FLAVORS ARE SORT OF GREEK -WITH ARMENIAN AND LEBANESE.

-Cook: YEAH.

Sbrocco: DEFINITELY A MEDITERRANEAN, OBVIOUSLY, FEEL TO THE FOOD.

AND, GEORGE, WHAT DID YOU HAVE ON YOUR VISIT? Habit: WE DECIDED TO EXPERIMENT.

LEBANESE FOOD, WE WEREN'T TOO FAMILIAR WITH IT.

AND MY DATE HAD SOME KIND OF A COLD SOUP.

YOGURT WAS IN THERE.

AND I HAD THE HOT, JUST TO HAVE A LITTLE VARIETY.

AND THEN THE WAITRESS RECOMMENDED A COMBINATION SALAD WITH A LOT OF DIFFERENT VEGETABLES AND STUFF AND THINGS IN THERE.

BUT ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS WAS THE DESSERT.

Sbrocco: MMM.

Habit: WE ORDERED A DATE, BUT THEY MASHED THE DATE UP, AND THEY PUT SOME KIND OF YOGURT AND CREAM WITH IT, AND IT WAS REALLY THE HIGHLIGHT OF OUR MEAL THERE WAS REALLY THE DELICIOUS DESSERT.

Cook: DID YOU GET A TURKISH COFFEE WITH IT? Habit: YES, I DID HAVE A LITTLE SIP OF THE COFFEE.

Cook: THAT'S NICE.

Sbrocco: AND THAT'S A CEREMONY, TOO.

Cook: YEAH.

I USUALLY HAVE AN EXTRA GLASS OF RETSINA FOR DESSERT.

Sbrocco: [ LAUGHS ] RETSINA, OF COURSE, THE SORT OF PINE RESIN WINE, WHITE WINE OF GREECE.

Cook: ONLY FOR SOME PEOPLE.

Sbrocco: WELL, THEY'RE MAKING MUCH BETTER RETSINA NOWADAYS.

SO YOU CAN CERTAINLY GET GREAT RETSINA.

Muniosguren: WE GOT THE LEBANESE BEER.

YOU KNOW, I FIGURED SINCE WE'RE GOING TO A RESTAURANT SUCH AS THIS, ASK FOR WHAT THEY HAVE THAT'S LOCAL, AND THEY SAID IT FLIES OFF THE SHELVES.

IT WAS A REALLY HOT DAY WHEN WE WENT, AND THE BEER JUST COMPLEMENTED THE WEATHER PERFECTLY.

Sbrocco: WHAT ABOUT THE POMEGRANATE CHICKEN? BECAUSE THEY'RE CERTAINLY KNOWN, ONE OF THEIR SIGNATURES.

Cook: I JUST TRIED IT FOUR YEARS AGO OUT OF THE EIGHT YEARS I'VE BEEN GOING THERE, AND I'M NOT KIDDING.

YOU REACH DOWN TO PICK UP THIS DRUMSTICK.

ON THE WAY UP, IT FALLS OFF THE BONE.

-Sbrocco: OOH.

-Habit: OH, BOY.

Cook: IT'S SO NICE.

Sbrocco: AND WHAT ABOUT SERVICE? HOW WAS SERVICE FOR YOU? -Habit: TERRIFIC.

-Sbrocco: TERRIFIC.

Habit: EVERY TIME THE WATER GLASS GOT A LITTLE LOW, THEY CAME AND POURED FRESH WATER.

"ANYTHING ELSE WE CAN DO FOR YOU?" NO, THE SERVICE WAS FIRST CLASS.

Muniosguren: I HAD TO ASK FOR DIRECTIONS, -AND THEY BROUGHT US A MAP.

-Cook: OH! Muniosguren: YEAH, AND WE'RE LIKE, "WE'RE GOING SOMEWHERE ELSE IN BERKELEY, HOW DO WE GET THERE?" AND SHE'S LIKE, "OH, WE DELIVER EVERYWHERE!" SHE BROUGHT OVER A MAP, AND THEY WERE ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS.

Cook: YEAH, I THINK THEY'RE ACTUALLY GETTING BETTER.

THEY STARTED OUT REALLY GOOD, BUT THEY'RE PICKING IT UP.

Sbrocco: SO, THIS IS YOUR RESTAURANT, DUNCAN.

GIVE US A QUICK SUMMARY FOR PEOPLE.

Cook: OKAY, IT'S DELICIOUS, FLAVOR-MIXING FOOD.

TREAT YOURSELF, PICK UP A COPY OF "THE MAGUS," AND GO READ IT WITH SOME RETSINA.

Sbrocco: OOH, FANTASTIC.

ALL RIGHT, PATRICIA.

Muniosguren: I WOULD SAY GO AND ENJOY.

EVERYTHING ABOUT THE RESTAURANT'S FABULOUS — THE WAITRESSES ARE FABULOUS, THE FOOD IS FABULOUS, AND THE ATMOSPHERE IS FABULOUS.

Sbrocco: AND, GEORGE? Habit: WELL, MY DATE AND I, WE ENJOYED OUR TRIP THERE.

NEXT TIME I'M THERE ON A SUNDAY, I'M GONNA GO TO THE SUNDAY BRUNCH.

IT REALLY SOUNDED INVITING.

Sbrocco: ALL RIGHT.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO TRY LA MEDITERRANéE, IT'S ON COLLEGE AVENUE AT ASHBY IN BERKELEY.

THE TELEPHONE NUMBER IS 510-540-7773.

IT'S OPEN FOR A LATE BREAKFAST, LUNCH, AND DINNER EVERY DAY, WITH BRUNCH ON THE WEEKENDS.

RESERVATIONS ARE ACCEPTED FOR PARTIES OF SEVEN OR MORE, AND THE AVERAGE TAB PER PERSON WITHOUT DRINKS IS AROUND $20.

  AND FOR OUR LAST FEATURED RESTAURANT, DAVID TEMKIN SHOWS THE DISTINGUISHED FLAVORS OF SARDINIAN CUISINE AT LA CICCIA.

WHILE CO-OWNER LORELLA DIVIDES HER TIME BETWEEN HERE AND LA NEBBIA, ACROSS THE STREET, MASSIMO CONTINUES TO MAKE MAGIC IN THE KITCHEN.

LET'S HEAR WHAT EVERYONE SAID ABOUT THE SARDINIAN SPOT ON 30th STREET IN SAN FRANCISCO CALLED LA CICCIA.

  Conti: MY NAME IS MASSIMILIANO CONTI.

I'M A CHEF AND CO-OWNER WITH MY WIFE, LORELLA DEGAN, OF LA CICCIA RESTAURANT IN SAN FRANCISCO.

  LA CICCIA TRANSLATES TO "BABY FAT," BUT ALSO MEANS "ABUNDANCE" AND "PROSPERITY.

" AT LA CICCIA, WE SPECIALIZE IN TRADITIONAL SARDINIAN COOKING.

IT ABOUNDS THE USE OF SEAFOOD, BUT ALSO THE USE OF FRESH VEGETABLES, GRAINS, AND A LOT OF MEATS AND A LOT OF CHEESE, MOSTLY FROM SHEEP AND GOATS.

  SARDINIAN COOKING, IT REALLY REFLECTS THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE SARDINIAN PEOPLE AND THEIR RESPECT FOR THE LAND AND NATURE.

WE USE ALL FRESH INGREDIENTS SOURCED LOCALLY, MOSTLY SUSTAINABLE OR WILD, AND WE USE A LOT OF SPICES AND HERBS TYPICAL FROM THE MEDITERRANEAN.

  LA CICCIA WAS BORN AND STILL IS A DREAM.

IT'S A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE COME FOR FOOD, WINE, AND SHARE THEIR PASSION FOR THESE THINGS WITH US AND FEEL LIKE THEY ARE IN OUR HOUSE.

  Sbrocco: OKAY, DAVE, LET'S TALK ABOUT LA CICCIA BECAUSE IT'S NOT ITALIAN.

IT'S SARDINIAN.

THERE'S A DIFFERENCE, ISN'T THERE? Temkin: IT IS.

IT'S REALLY DIFFERENT FROM WHAT YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR AVERAGE RED-SAUCE ITALIAN.

IT'S LIGHTER, IT'S A LOT OF SEAFOOD, A LOT OF JUST VERY DIFFERENT TASTES AND FLAVORS.

THEY'RE NOT AFRAID TO USE GAMIER MEATS LIKE GOAT.

IT'S NOT YOUR AVERAGE ITALIAN.

Sbrocco: SARDINIA IS AN ISLAND OFF ITALY, RIGHT.

AND SO YOU HAVE A LOT OF SEAFOOD IN THE CUISINE, BUT THEN, ON THE INLAND PART OF THE ISLAND, IT IS THAT HEARTY KIND OF CUISINE.

SO YOU HAVE TWO REALLY DISPARATE THINGS, DON'T YOU? -Temkin: EXACTLY.

-Sbrocco: YEAH.

AND WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DISH WHEN YOU GO? Temkin: MY FAVORITE DISH IS THE STEWED OCTOPUS.

THE OCTOPUS IS JUST AMAZING — TENDER, JUICY, AND JUST TASTES OF ALMOST BEEF, IF YOU WILL.

IT'S NOT A SEAFOOD DISH AT ALL, REALLY, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE FACT IT'S MADE WITH OCTOPUS.

Sbrocco: RIGHT.

IT'S LIKE A WHITE WINE FOR RED-WINE LOVERS.

Temkin: EXACTLY.

Sbrocco: IT'S GOT THAT, UNH.

[ LAUGHS ] ALL RIGHT, AMY, WHEN YOU WENT, WHAT DID YOU EXPERIENCE? Blanchard: WELL, SO, WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT IS HOW KIND OF ADVENTUROUS THE MENU WAS.

FOR ME, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT REALLY STRUCK ME WAS THE PASTA THAT I HAD WITH A CURED TUNA HEART.

AND I WAS A LITTLE FREAKED OUT.

Sbrocco: HAVE YOU EVER HAD TUNA HEART? Blanchard: NO.

I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW YOU COULD HAVE TUNA HEART.

WHAT THEY DID WAS REALLY INTERESTING WAS THEY GRATED IT ON TOP OF THE PASTA.

AND THE PASTA ITSELF WAS DELICIOUS.

IT WAS HOUSE-MADE, COOKED TO PERFECTION, AND THEN THEY HAD THE GRATED TUNA HEART ON TOP WITH GARLIC AND AMAZING EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL.

AND I JUST DISAPPEARED INTO THAT DISH.

I FORGOT WHO I WAS.

I FORGOT WHERE I WAS.

I WAS LIVING THAT PASTA WHEN I WAS EATING IT.

Temkin: I'M INCREDIBLY IMPRESSED THAT THAT WAS WHAT YOU TIRED.

Sbrocco: REALLY? WHY? Temkin: 'CAUSE THERE'S A LOT MORE TAME STUFF ON THE MENU.

AND IT'S A TESTAMENT TO, I GUESS, YOUR SENSE OF ADVENTURE, IF YOU WILL, THAT THAT'S THE PASTA DISH YOU PICKED.

BUT THAT'S A GREAT DISH.

Sbrocco: AND, ACTUALLY, THE MENU IS IN SARDINIAN.

YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT IN ITALIAN.

YOU LOOK AT IT AND YOU THINK, "WHAT IS THIS LANGUAGE?" I MEAN, IT'S EXPLAINED IN ENGLISH.

BUT WHAT DID YOU HAVE WHEN YOU WENT, IRENE? Hamaker: OH, I HAD THE CALAMARI — THE BAKED CALAMARI APPETIZER.

I HAD THE TUNA OVER THE MOST DELICIOUS CABBAGE I'VE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE.

I JUST WANTED A WHOLE BOWL OF THAT CABBAGE.

AND THEN WE ALSO HAD THE SPECIAL FOR THAT NIGHT, THE HOMEMADE RIGATONI WITH, I THINK, IT WAS A LAMB RAGOUT, POSSIBLY LAMB AND GOAT.

BUT IT WAS DELICATE, AND THAT TOMATO SAUCE JUST HAD THE PERFECT, I GUESS EVERYONE'S CALLING IT UMAMI NOW OR SOMETHING.

[ LAUGHTER ] BUT IT WAS JUST INCREDIBLE.

I REALLY ENJOYED IT.

EVERYTHING JUST TASTED LIKE THEY PICKED THE MOST INCREDIBLE, FRESH INGREDIENTS, EITHER FROM THE FARM OR THE SEA OR WHEREVER AND THEY JUST BROUGHT THEM THERE AND LET THEM SHINE.

THEY WERE INCREDIBLE.

Blanchard: THEY HAD THAT ON THE MENU, ACTUALLY, THAT THEY CHOOSE LOCAL, ORGANIC PRODUCERS AND GROWERS WHENEVER POSSIBLE.

Hamaker: OH, I SAW THAT, AND I WAS EXCITED RIGHT AWAY.

Sbrocco: AND WHAT ARE THEIR DISHES — BECAUSE YOU GO THERE SO OFTEN, WE TALKED ABOUT THE OCTOPUS.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE THAT IS A "DON'T MISS" RECOMMENDATION FOR FOLKS WHEN THEY GO? Temkin: SURE, SO THE SPAGHETTI WITH BOTTARGA IS JUST AMAZING.

IT'S, AGAIN, A FRESH SPAGHETTI WITH A SPICY OIL, AND THEY MIX THAT WITH BOTTARGA, WHICH IS A DRIED CAVIAR.

AND BASICALLY, IT TURNS THE DISH FROM SOMETHING THAT YOU WOULD IMAGINE TO BE MAYBE A LITTLE ON THE OILY SIDE TO CREAMY.

IT'S AMAZING.

WE HAVE A FRIEND WHO CAN'T EAT DAIRY, AND HE BASICALLY WILL EAT THIS DISH AS A SUBSTITUTE TO, LIKE, FETTUCCINE ALFREDO BECAUSE IT JUST CREATES THIS AMAZING CREAMY TEXTURE.

Hamaker: I'LL TRY THAT NEXT TIME.

[ LAUGHTER ] Sbrocco: I'M SITTING HERE THINKING, "MMM.

" I NEED SOME WINE TO GO WITH THAT.

THEY HAVE AN ALL-ITALIAN WINE LIST WITH REALLY SOME AMAZING SELECTIONS FROM SARDINIA.

DID YOU GET SOME WINE WHEN YOU WERE THERE, AMY? Blanchard: YES, I DID.

AND DON'T ASK ME TO PRONOUNCE IT.

Sbrocco: DID YOU HAVE THE CANNONAU? Blanchard: YES, THAT IS WHAT I HAD! THANK YOU FOR PRONOUNCING IT.

AND IT WAS REALLY AN UNUSUAL WINE FOR ME.

I NEVER HAD ANYTHING QUITE LIKE IT BEFORE.

IT WAS A PERFECT COMPLEMENT WITH MY ENTRéE, WHICH WAS ACTUALLY THE SHRIMP IN THE RICH TOMATO SAUCE.

TO DIE FOR, BUT THE WINE COMPLEMENTED IT SO BEAUTIFULLY, AND IT HAD SOME SORT OF MINERAL-Y ROBUST FLAVORS.

Sbrocco: IT'S ACTUALLY MADE FROM A GRAPE VARIETY CALLED GRENACHE OR GRENACHA, AS WE KNOW, BUT KNOWN ON THE ISLAND AS THAT.

Blanchard: I THOUGHT THE ATTENTION TO DETAIL AND THE FRIENDLINESS AND THE CHEF AND THE WOMAN AT THE FRONT OF THE HOUSE WERE SO LOVELY AND SO DARLING THAT THE WHOLE TIME I WAS DINING THERE AND WHEN I LEFT, I FELT LIKE FAMILY.

I FELT LIKE I HAD BEEN ADOPTED BY A SARDINIAN FAMILY AND I HAD A SARDINIAN GRANDMOTHER AND FOLKS THAT WERE COOKING FOR ME THAT WERE SO LOVELY.

Sbrocco: AND YOU GO BACK ALL THE TIME BECAUSE OF THAT FEELING.

Temkin: I DO.

IT'S AMAZING.

LORELLA IS FRONT OF HOUSE, AND SHE'S ALWAYS THERE TO GREET YOU.

Hamaker: SUCH A SWEETHEART.

I LOVED HER.

I FELT LIKE I'D BEEN GOING THERE FOREVER.

Blanchard: DID YOU GUYS HAVE ANYTHING WITH THE SABA? 'CAUSE THAT WAS A NEW INGREDIENT TO ME, AS WELL.

MY HUSBAND HAD THE LAMB TENDERLOIN THAT CAME WITH THE SABA SAUCE, AND WE HAD TO ASK WHAT IT WAS 'CAUSE WE DIDN'T KNOW.

AND I GUESS IT'S A GRAPE MUST SAUCE.

AND IT WAS A VERY UNIQUE FLAVOR.

IT TASTED A LITTLE BIT LIKE COUGH SYRUP ON THE FIRST TASTE, BUT THEN, ONCE YOU KIND OF MIXED IT WITH THE MEAT, IT WAS AN INCREDIBLE COMPLEMENT TO THE LAMB TENDERLOIN, I THOUGHT.

IT WAS DELICIOUS.

WE HAD THE RICOTTA SAFFRON TORTE, WHICH WAS A LITTLE BIT LIKE A CHEESECAKE, AND IT CAME WITH TOASTED ALMONDS AND HONEY.

AND IT WAS LIGHT AND FLUFFY AND JUST ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS.

I WAS A VERY HAPPY GIRL.

Sbrocco: ALL RIGHT, DAVE.

THIS IS YOUR SPOT, SO GIVE US A QUICK WRAP-UP.

Temkin: SO, LA CICCIA IS JUST A HIDDEN GEM TUCKED AWAY IN THE BACK OF NOE VALLEY.

IF YOU'VE NEVER HAD SARDINIAN FOOD, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.

Sbrocco: OKAY, AND AMY? Blanchard: INCREDIBLE, CLEAN FLAVORS AND LOVELY SERVICE.

YOUR SARDINIAN FAMILY AWAY FROM SARDINIA.

[ LAUGHTER ] Sbrocco: OKAY, AND IRENE? Hamaker: DECADENT WITHOUT THE HEAVY AFTER FEEL.

I WILL GO BACK AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE FOR THAT INCREDIBLE FOOD.

Sbrocco: ALL RIGHT.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO TRY LA CICCIA, IT'S ON 30th AT CHURCH STREET IN SAN FRANCISCO.

THE TELEPHONE NUMBER IS 415-550-8114.

IT'S OPEN TUESDAY THROUGH SATURDAY, CLOSED ON SUNDAY AND MONDAY.

RESERVATIONS ARE RECOMMENDED, AND THE AVERAGE TAB FOR DINNER WITHOUT DRINKS IS AROUND $35.

I HOPE YOU ENJOYED OUR JOURNEY BACK TO THE MEDITERRANEAN.

WITH DAVID NALEWAY AND THE ROMAN FLAVORS OF RISTORANTE IDEALE, DUNCAN COOK AND THE SAVORY MIDDLE-EASTERN SELECTIONS AT LA MEDITERRANéE, AND FINALLY, DAVID TEMKIN, WHOSE SPOT OFFERS EXOTIC SARDINIAN INGREDIENTS, AT LA CICCIA.

THREE RESTAURANTS PRESENTED A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY THIS TIME.

WE STILL WANT TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT ANY OF THESE RESTAURANTS.

WHAT WERE YOUR EXPERIENCES? LET US KNOW BY VISITING OUR WEBSITE AT kqed.

Org/checkplease.

THERE'S TONS OF INFORMATION AND RESTAURANT DETAILS THERE.

YOU CAN WATCH MORE THAN 100 EPISODES AND READ ABOUT THE WINES I'M DRINKING NOW.

AND DON'T FORGET YOU CAN CHECK US OUT ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER.

JOIN US NEXT TIME WITH THREE NEW GUESTS WHO WILL RECOMMEND THEIR FAVORITE SPOTS RIGHT HERE ON "CHECK, PLEASE! BAY AREA.

" I'M LESLIE SBROCCO, AND I'LL SEE YOU THEN.

CHEERS.

Announcer: THIS SHOW IS AVAILABLE ON DEMAND AND ONLINE.

TO WATCH AN EPISODE, FIND RESTAURANT INFORMATION, OR TO APPLY TO BE ON THE SHOW, GO TO OUR WEBSITE AT.

  YOU'LL ALSO FIND US ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER.

    Announcer: A KQED TELEVISION PRODUCTION.

 .

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