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Openings: Everyday Italian

Photo courtesy of Hardy Wilson.
Photo courtesy of Hardy Wilson.


1760 Polk Street, San Francisco |

Last month, Suzette Gresham and Giancarlo Paterlini, co-owners of two-Michelin-starred Acquerello, introduced “a more casual, versatile restaurant experience that translates to the next generation of diners,” says the latter. The aptly named Sorella, which means “sister” in Italian, is located a couple of blocks from their decades-old institution. Gresham notes that while the two places share “the same ethos of hospitality, high standards and best-in-class cuisine,” Sorella offers a more lively and social ambiance. “We have wonderful cocktails and cicchetti (Italian bar snacks), salads, pasta and shareable plates versus the fine-dining tasting menu and formal service you’ll find at Acquerello,” she continues. “There’s a time and a place for both restaurants, so we’re excited to offer both experiences!” According to chef de cuisine Denise St. Onge, “the housemade pasta plays a starring role at Sorella, and one of our specialties is timballo, a fancy take on lasagna made with dry-aged beef and Comté cheese.” Is your mouth watering yet?

Photo courtesy of Eric Wolfinger.
Photo courtesy of Eric Wolfinger.

San Ho Won

2170 Bryant Street, San Francisco |

Since its debut in the Mission two months ago, diners have been flocking to San Ho Won for charcoal-grilled Korean fare. The collaboration between chefs Corey Lee, whose SoMa establishment Benu holds three Michelin stars, and Jeong-In Hwang, who also continues his tenure in the kitchen at Benu, highlights traditional flavors and nods to home cooking while incorporating local ingredients and modern techniques. A central BBQ stove, fueled by lychee wood charcoal made just for San Ho Won, turns out meaty items such as house double-cut galbi, marinated Cornish hen and chungjang-glazed pork ribs — all of which can be wrapped up in lettuce (ssam). Veggies, fish and homemade rice cakes also come off the grill. A half dozen or so appetizers along with specialty banchan, soups, stews and rice dishes help round out the menu. Desserts include Gâteau Marjolaine — a medley of hazelnut, chocolate and crème anglaise that is a favorite at Lee’s Monsieur Benjamin restaurant.

Après Village

2050 University Circle, East Palo Alto |

Step into a winter wonderland in the heart of Silicon Valley. An alfresco venue at the Four Seasons has once again been transformed into a pop-up alpine-inspired retreat, complete with a life-size sleigh and a giant snow globe backdrop. A light dusting of flurries from a snow machine adds to the polar vibe. Executive chef Martín Morelli’s menu draws from renowned ski destinations around the globe. Order a hot beverage to accompany the Gruyère cheese and Champagne fondue or s’mores stacked with house-made graham crackers and vanilla bean marshmallows. Pastry chef Guillermo Soto’s confections are also available in the on-site Sweet Shoppe. To really make your visit feel like a cozy getaway, reserve a semi-private wooden chalet — which accommodates up to four and is outfitted with blankets, pillows, a flat-screen TV and a firepit. Après is open to the public Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 4 to 9 p.m., through February 26. Fireside movies are slated for every Sunday at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., screening family-friendly flicks such as Abominable and The Boss Baby: Family Business.

Flour & Branch

493 3rd Street, San Francisco |

Bay Area fans of Flour & Branch’s nostalgia-inspired baked goods, rejoice: The previously delivery-only bakery now has a brick-and-mortar location. Prior to opening in December, founder Lauren Arnsdorff shut down for two months to focus on the move from a commercial kitchen; recipe-test for an expanded menu with more pastries and desserts as well as brunch items; and remodel her new outpost. “I wanted a space that felt fresh, whimsical, elegant and gave a bit of a reprieve for locals and visitors,” says Arnsdorff, who enlisted the help of Leap Interior Design. Alongside a palette of robin’s-egg blue, light green and rose, patterned wallpaper harmonizes with walnut, brass and marble details. The venue also contains a market with home and personal goods, which Arnsdorff hopes will eventually include floral arrangements and gift baskets. While the cookies and stuffed French toasts are especially popular, here’s another delicious reason to consider the kouign amanns: Thanks to a “filling station,” patrons can opt to have the crackly, buttery treat filled on the spot with vanilla bean custard, strawberry rose compote or Nutella.

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