The gist: Chef Alexander Alioto, of Zagat-favorite Seven Hills, has re-worked his former Plin restaurant, keeping the fresh, handmade pasta he’s celebrated for while updating the menu, decor and price points to reflect the neighborhood’s casual, vibrant atmosphere at the new Nostra Spaghetteria. Also within the same space comes Bar Mia, which focuses on amaro-based cocktails.
The food: The build-your-own pasta menu and affordable, date-friendly prices ($12–$22) define the major changes at this re-imagined spot, but what will keep you coming back with each Italian food craving is chef Alioto’s expert execution of simple, familiar dishes. Highlights include paper-thin pappardelle, a perfect vehicle for veal ragu sauce, wild mushrooms and fontina cheese — or any of your favorite pasta toppings offered on the custom, build-your-own menu. The rest of the sharable menu is just as approachable, featuring grilled octopus, without a hint of over-cooked chewiness, fried chicken with mashed potatoes and classic fettuccine carbonara with Fra ‘Mani pancetta, egg yolks, black pepper and Parmesan cheese.
There are a also few Plin crossovers, like the favorite ravioli uovo stuffed with spinach, egg and housemade ricotta, but in the spirit of the new, livelier concept, you can also get a burger topped with Alioto’s signature raviolo, fried onion rings and truffle oil. It’s the sort of decadent burger-pasta mash-up that tastes especially good after indulging in the bar’s multiple happy hours. And according to the chef, that’s exactly how it was conceived — by accident as a late-night meal for his staff.
The drinks: While lead bar manager, Adam Mardigras focuses on amaro-based cocktails, the twice-nightly, generous happy hours, flights of Fernet and all-day $5 shot-and-a-beer deals will likely earn Bar Mia a place in the Mission’s party circuit. The wine list also won’t disappoint, curated by Alioto (a Master Sommelier) with a special reserve list from his own cellar.
The space: Urban, rustic elements and industrial touches define the space, while local graffiti artist Chris Lux has added a large-scale, vibrant mural, a nod to the Mission’s famous street paintings. The best seat in the house is the big banquette that provides a glimpse at the open-ish kitchen and the poppin’ bar.
280 Valencia St.; 415-655-9510