From the rooftop tables of the roughly two-month-old Fiorella Sunset, guests can see the glass-enclosed dough room, a Willy Wonka laboratory-like setup that swaps chocolate for chitarra. At this third — and most elaborate — location of the relaxed Californian-Italian favorite, there are cocktails for the first time, a chic bi-level dining configuration and, of course, the most celebrated clam pizza in town. While that signature pie is hard to resist, as the dough room reminds everyone, the pasta here is a formidable al dente force.
1240 9th Avenue, San Francisco
Take the squid ink mafaldine — a Sunset exclusive, not available at the Fiorella outposts on Clement or Polk streets. Chef de cuisine Scott Schneider, previously at New York’s Michelin-starred Ai Fiori, had the brilliant idea to pair a Sicilian-inspired octopus ragu with the long ruffled ribbons of pasta — perfect for collecting thick sauces. The result is a magnificent marriage: tender octopus with a gentle briny kiss, the crunch from toasted breadcrumbs and the rustic tanginess of San Marzano tomatoes.
Wine pairings: With the mafaldine, try a fresh and crisp local sauvignon blanc like the one from Dutcher Crossing in the northern Dry Creek Valley, or the 2018 Napa Valley Chenin Blanc from St. Helena’s chenin blanc specialist Lang & Reed. Of course, this dish is also an excellent match for a Mediterranean white full of brightness and a touch of salinity. Chris Tarbell, Fiorella Restaurant Group’s wine director, recommends the 2020 Verdicchio di Matelica, ColleStefano, Marche, or the 2019 Etna Bianco, Benanti, Sicilia.