A Little Bite Of Rome in the City By The Bay
Roma Antica – San Francisco, CA
Visited: May 2019 • Italian
I’m always on the prowl for a great cacio e pepe, and recently I found one of the best I’ve ever tasted at a small restaurant located in San Francisco’s Marina District. Roma Antica specializes in making authentic Roman recipes, which is no surprise since one of the owners hails from Rome.
On a recent jaunt to Northern California, we dined in San Francisco with friends Kim and Mary. Their daughter lives there and is a fount of excellent dining knowledge.
We arrived early on a Friday evening as no reservations are accepted and just beat the crowd at 5 p.m. (15 minutes later, it was jammed)
We were seated in the rear next to the small bar with a view of the super busy kitchen and pizza oven.
I had looked at Roma Antica’s menu before heading north as well as some reviews touting their cacio e pepe, so I knew one of the dishes I would be ordering on this evening.
Before dinner, we perused an interesting wine list featuring vintages from many of Italy’s wine regions. There were also French and California wines, but we gravitated toward Italia. For the red selection, we chose a spectacular 2016 Ruvei Barbera d’Alba ($50) from the Piemonte region, where the four of us had visited in October 2018.
Mary and Tracy preferred a white vino choice, and after sampling, a couple of wines went with a 2017 Vermentino ($42) from Tuscany. I had never heard of Vermentino before. It was also quite tasty.
Mary started with the Insalata della Casa; Mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, croutons, fennel and balsamic vinaigrette ($8). Kim ordered, you guessed it, an Insalata di Cesare ($9).
Tracy also ordered to form an Insalata di Barbabietole: roasted beets with baby spinach, salted ricotta, and extra virgin olive oil ($10).
Instead of salad, I thought I’d make it a two-pasta dinner. Whenever I do this, my dining companions shake their heads in caloric disbelief. I started with the cacio e pepe; handmade tonnarelli with pecorino Romano and black pepper ($16). It was cooked to absolute pasta perfection, a tad al dente with flavors bursting in my mouth on every bite. It might be the best cacio e pepe dish I had ever eaten. Wow!!!
Mary went with the Sacchetti; pasta filled with Italian cheeses, fresh pear and gorgonzola sauce ($18), which garnered the restaurant another “Wow” for the evening. This dish was delicious. (I begged Mary for a couple of bites, and she obliged.) The pears paired perfectly with the pasta (say that three times), and it equaled the cacio e pepe in deliciousness.
As a person who has rarely met a risotto I didn’t enjoy, I ordered the special Risotto of the Day; mortadella and mascarpone cream sauce ($23). It was a huge (and delectable) serving, and I almost finished it, but, alas, I fell just short. It was probably for the best since my Expando Belt will not go above certain waist sizes.
With as much as we ate, there was no room left for dessert, but not to worry, we will be returning in July and will not leave without trying a couple of their dolci. Friends have told us that Roma Antica’s Porchetta; a slowly roasted, herb-stuffed whole pork cooked in a wood-fired oven is their favorite dish here. Or perhaps I’ll try their Stracciatella, arugula, pesto & prosciutto di parma pizza. Decisions … Decisions! In mid-May, Roma Antica opened its sister restaurant in Larkspur.
Everything we tasted at Roma Antica was cooked to perfection, and the service impeccable. Even with a 3% San Francisco surcharge tacked on, the price for this restaurant was quite reasonable. Next time you’re in the “City By The Bay” …
… be sure to make Roma Antica one of your choices and don’t miss the cacio e pepe. Buon Appetito!
Mai Tai Tom Rating – 4.7 Mai Tais (out of five)
SAN FRANCISCO –
3242 Scott Street
San Francisco, CA 94123
Hours: Sunday – Thursday 11 am – 10 pm • Friday/Saturday 11 am – 11 pm
286 Magnolia Avenue
Larkspur, CA 94939
Hours: Monday – Sunday: Noon – 10 p.m.
Parking (in San Francisco): Street (metered if you can find a space)