Michael Bauer is finally back on the review beat and he's at the slightly-troublesome Cetrella in Half Moon Bay. Even though the review starts off like a trainwreck of epic proportions—only four tables filled in the 225-seater, clueless servers, egregious wine list, constant chef shuffles—things settle down quickly enough:
The menu has changed quite a bit since a visit earlier this year, although it still has a strong Mediterranean bent, using local flavors that celebrate the agrarian roots of the area. ... it was a very good meal that speaks of its locale. But when we walked out the door without anyone saying goodbye, it further highlighted fundamental problem with the service.
The Bauer does love the local produce bent, and Cetrella does it very well, salvaging what could have been a much worse review. Service gets a single lonely star (did someone go unrecognized?), but setting and food make for a tidy, respectable 2.5 stars overall. [Chron]
Ms. Meredith hits on a local favorite at Uva Enoteca, and for your reading pleasure, provides a lesson on Italian menus in the process: "Affettati means 'sliced,' which is a tipoff that cured meats are on offer, and antipasti means 'before the meal,' which covers a wide range of further temptations: verdure (vegetables, cooked or not), insalate (salads), crudo (raw meat and fish), and formaggi (cheese). Pane means 'bread' ... We also choose drinks that are a bit sillier than we might usually be ordering in a house with such an interesting and reasonable wine list, which covers the back of the menu. After all, uva means 'grape.'" Everyone got that? The quiz is next week. [SFW]
Riding shotgun in the food section this week is Carey Sweet, who files from the exotic locale of Penngrove, near Petaluma: "Suffice it to say that in Penngrove, the opening of a new restaurant, such as the debut of Humble Pie in July, can get the entire community abuzz. However, in the case of the six-table Humble Pie, the buzz has the potential to put Penngrove on the culinary map ... Essentially anything that can be stuffed into pastry is fair game, with a short lineup that changes weekly." Upshot for the pie restaurant: the standard two stars. [Chron]
Paul Reidinger highlights the dearth of Cuban restaurants in the city in his visit to the lovable—and sublime—Chan Chan Cafe Cubano: "Chan Chan might look like a café, with a menu whose dishes are all demurely described — and modestly priced — as tapas, but the food is sophisticated and often sublime. Even the dipping sauces that accompany the warm bread are carefully conceived and executed; among these are a garlic-and-honey vinaigrette flecked with herbs and a smoothly savory tapenade of sun-dried tomato." [SFBG]
THE ELSEWHERE: The Merc made a SF visit to San Jose spinoff Amber India earlier this week, The EBX is at Saffron Gourmet, The CoCo Times goes waterside at Miss Pearl's Jam House, The PressDem has an odd burger lunch at The Belvedere, Lady Hopstress does sandwiches Morty's Deli, The Bunrabs took a trip to Kellerville for the tenth anniversary of Bouchon, and the Sunday Chron review had 2.5 stars for Union Square's Urban Tavern.