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8 Reasons to Revisit Local Kitchen in SoMa

By Virginia Miller
June 24, 2014
Photo by: Virginia Miller

We haven't heard much about SoMa's Local Kitchen & Wine Merchant in a while. The sleek SoMa space, marked by a wood-fired oven and a wine shop up front, has continued to serve gratifying Neapolitan-influenced pizzas ($17-$18) and other dishes to workers and locals since it opened in 2007. A little over a year ago, CIA Hyde Park Grad and executive chef Steve Sasaki came on board and has been making subtle changes to the menu over time. Recently, the bar also gained a new bar manager: Victoria D'Amato-Moran, former bar manager at Tony Nik's and owner/creator of cocktail syrups line Cent'Anni Spirit Syrups, which will soon be bottled and sold in the restaurant's wine shop and beyond. We stopped in for a taste through Victoria's cocktails ($9-$12) and new bites from chef Sasaki. Here are some recommended drinks and plates. 330 First St.; 415-777-4200

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    Cardamom lovers and tipplers looking for a lower-alcohol drink, go for the Savoy cocktail. Dry Dolin de Chambery vermouth is the base of this bright apéritif, which gets herbal, floral depth and complexity from cucumber juice, oleo-saccharum (a classic style of fragrant simple syrup with citrus essential oils), cardamom and lavender bitters.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    These perfectly seared scallops sit on a base of beluga lentils, warm with white corn, truffle and red pepper coulis, making it our favorite plate on a recent visit. Chef Sasaki realizes that a $28 plate of four scallops isn't necessarily what every diner wants, so he's adding an appetizer portion soon. 

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    We still find it pretty hard to say no to burrata, the queen of mozzarella made with extra cream. Here, a silky, generous mound rests atop organic arugula ($16) with crostini to scoop it up and Calabrian chiles for subtly spicy contrast.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    Fans of boozy, bracing cocktails will love the elegant Twelve cocktail. It's a blend of Elijah Craig 12-year bourbon and Dictator Solera 12-year Rum — hence the name. Cocchi di Tonino sweet vermouth, lemon and a housemade honey shrub balance things out.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    This simple seasonal spring salad ($14) tastes like a fresh early summer breeze. The last of this season's crisp asparagus mixes with mache and micro-radishes with a welcome burst of sweetness from Swanton strawberries. But what really makes this an above-average salad is a creamy Meyer lemon sabayon dressing and vivid drops of mint oil. Oh, yes.
     

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    The most fascinating cocktail on the menu is Apothecary. D'Amato-Moran stirs Aviation gin and her Cent' Anni chocolate-chile syrup on the rocks, then steeps the drink with apothecary herbs and spices from her garden. The drink tastes like a fresh garden undergirded by earthy chocolate. And it's also visually arresting with a star anise pod as garnish.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    Rincon Hill goes down all too easy. If you love minty absinthe drinks or like the green, vegetal side of the taste spectrum — possibly because you can almost fool yourself into thinking it's healthy? — this one's for you. Oola aged gin from Seattle provides a robust base for a bit of St. George absinthe, mint, lemon, lime and celery bitters.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    This Saffron Sour is a D'Amato-Moran classic dating back to her days bartending at Belden Taverna. It's soft on top thanks to egg whites and aromatic from saffron-infused Old Raj gin (which already has a bit of saffron as one of its botanicals), Velvet Falernum (a classic spiced almond syrup), fresh orange and lemon juices.

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