Amanda Gold pinch-hits for Biggity Bauer this week, and she takes the review spotlight to Contigo, Brett Emerson's Noe Valley newcomer. Like those who have filed in before her, Gold gives Emerson big props for his signature oxtail croquetas, but in the end, it's all about the complete package:
Although you might have to wait your turn at this 2-month-old Noe Valley spot, there's a European sensibility that encourages lingering, whether it's over a succession of enticing small plates or a refreshing bottle of cava ... take your time savoring each bite - kicking back with friends, good food and wine is what Contigo is really all about.
While the fideos and calamari get appointed vaunted "don't miss" status from The AG, there are a few missteps: service could still stand some improvement and the kitchen has a few execution whiffs (i.e., undercooked fish). Nonetheless, Contigo is ready to claim its place as another neighborhood gem in the San Francisco tradition and it gets its 2.5 stars. [Chron]
Better late than never, Meredith Brody chimes in on Beretta, which is just as hot as ever. A slightly-curmudgeonly Brody—not a fan of the "wall of noise"—acknowledges that Beretta plays its role quite well, but it's not her cup of tea: "The three of us shared a pleasant meal, although not everything was equally successful ... Beretta, noise and all, apparently suits its clientele to perfection. But not for me." [SFW]
Paul Reidinger gets into the Korean noodle act at Zazang Korean Noodle on Geary: "You are unlikely ever to find a more flavorful soup than zam pong ($7.95), which is like a bouillabaisse, only much, much livelier ... The restaurant's human traffic, meantime, is of the cheerful neighborhood sort." [SFBG]
Josh Sens' monthly SF Mag offering is up online, and it's a 2.5-star affair at Heaven's Dog. The menu is on the safe side, and though Sens wouldn't mind seeing the more "freewheeling" Phan, ingredients are still top notch and the bar is the place to be: "As Phan tinkers with the menu, more flourishes may come. But this chef, who knows his spices, also knows his restaurant’s strengths. He conceived of Heaven’s Dog as an afterwork hangout and watering hole." [SFM]
THE ELSEWHERE: The CoCo Times approves of John Marquez at Lafayette's Artisan Bistro, the EBX discovers the recession's new wine bar in Berkeley's new Beta Lounge, Bargain Bites goes eastward to Lafayette's Singaporean cafe Kopitiam, the PressDem has 2.5 stars for Santa Rosa's Trattoria Cattaneo, the MIJ visits Inverness institution Vladimir's Czech Restaurant, Bar Bites stops by the Ritz, and the Sunday Chron review bestowed 2.5 stars upon Tipsy Pig.