FiDi's Hidden Michelin Guide-Recommendation

Bay Area foodie reviews Chiaroscuro.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Squid ink tagliatelle with shrimp and clams, at Chiaroscuro.

    I always considered myself to be very familiar with the Financial District restaurant scene. Since I work in the neighborhood, people come to me for recommendations, and I’ve got a list handy. But it wasn’t until a few months ago that Chiaroscuro caught my eye.

    The Michelin Guide-recommended restaurant’s entrance on Washington Street can be easy to miss, but once inside, the bold interior (concrete seating! open kitchen!) stands out. During my second visit, my dining companion and I were greeted with an amuse bouche as soon as we sat down.

    The tiny bite of blue cheese, grape, and pickled shallot packed a punch, and the piquant shallot was my favorite part. (I love anything sour and anything pickled.)

    The tiny bite of blue cheese, grape, and pickled shallot packed a punch, and the piquant shallot was my favorite part. (I love anything sour and anything pickled.)

    We decided to share a salad of baby spinach, pancetta, bleu del Moncenisio and toasted almonds. The blue cheese was a little overwhelming (in fairness, I’m not much of a blue cheese fan) but the mellow vinaigrette helped balance things out.

    Next came my squid ink tagliatelle. Served with prawns and clams, this dish tasted as delicious as it was beautiful. The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente, the clams and shrimp were briny and fresh, and I only wished there was more pasta to mop up the wonderful sauce.

    I’ve been to Chiaroscuro for both lunch and dinner, and it makes for a special Italian meal at either time of the day. Service is always friendly and attentive, and the menu frequently changes. It just goes to show — maybe I should pay more attention to my neighborhood surroundings.

    Mariam Hosseini is a Bay Area native who has been writing about food and travel since 2003.  She blogs regularly at yogurtsoda.com.