For our second San Francisco Mystery Meet dinner, a dozen foodies headed into the city's North Beach neighborhood for a taste of some of the best old-school Italian food the city has to offer.
- 1800 Mason Street
- San Francisco, Massachusetts
- (415) 982-5728
- Joltin’ Joe grew up here.
- Boot food.
- Joe Montana and Neil Sedaka hang here.
- Opened its doors the same year that Discovery made its maiden voyage.
- Leave your problems at the front door.
- Mista or Caesar Salad
- Salvatore, Carlesimo, Spinali or Melanzane
By reminder, “Mystery Meet brings together adventurous foodies for a night of social dining at the hottest restaurants. There’s only one catch…you don’t know where you’re going until 24 hours in advance!“
Over a dozen diners and a few familiar faces from the first dinner met at Trattoria Contadina located in North Beach on a side corner, near the cable cars.
We chose Trattoria Contadina because we heard it was a solid restaurant, in fact one of the best in North Beach. A colleagues said the eggplant appetizer is a must get. Unfortunately, the Melanzane alla Mozzarella Sautéed slices of eggplant with a fresh tomato sauce, black olives, basil and melted mozzarella cheese for $11.00 was not on our menu tonight. Next time.
We were welcomed by the friendly staff and the restaurant was fully packed with families, business folks and couples and was simply decorated. The bar had holiday lights, the walls were covered with photographs and framed art. Our group sat in the smaller, upstairs dining room, which was definitely cozy.
Mista or Caesar: On of our dining companions had the Mista with mixed greens, tomato, olives, asiago cheese and balsamic vinaigrette, which looked light and refreshing.
The majority of the table went for the Casare which had a nice balance of fresh hearts of romaine, classic Caesar dressing (with anchovies), salty parmesan cheese and crunchy garlic croutons.
Antipaso Platters: Two platters of Antipasto arrived at our table with cured meats and cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, warm olives, roasted peppers and pepperoncini, drizzled with olive oil for $16.00. Most of the salame disappeared and what was left was the pepperoncini and a few olives.
Salvatore Chicken: We chose the second recommendation from our friendly waiter, the Salvatore Chicken ravioli with sun-dried tomatoes, rosemary, garlic and a marscapone cheese sauce for $17.00. The chicken ravioli was nicely filled, fresh and really enjoyed the cheese sauce.
Carlesimo Rigatoncelli Pasta: Most of the table ordered the waiter's first choice recommendation of the Carlesimo Rigatoncelli pasta with pancetta, porcini mushrooms, peas, sun-dried tomatoes and a mildly spiced tomato cream sauce for $18.00. The spicy tomato cream sauce was just so good and the pasta nicely al dente and had a nice mix of mushrooms, Italian bacon, peas and tomatoes.
Dolci: The dessert plate or Dolci (all $7 each) was an impressive spread. There was a slice of Homemade Tiramisu Rum and espresso soaked lady fingers, Layered with mascarpone cheese, Spumoni Ice Cream Cake Vanilla, Chocolate, Pistachio, and Strawberry layered ice cream cake, Torta di Cioccolato Chocolate cappuccino mousse cake fresh whipped cream and Pumpkin cheesecake. The favorites were the pistachio scented Spumoni and Chocolate cappuchino mousse cake.
One of our favorite couples were drinking Mazzocco's Cabernet Sauvignon from Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma. They reminded us to go to Trattoria Siciliana for some of the best mushroom ravioli and ice cream Ici on College Avenue in Berkeley. Two highly recommendations from two trusted sources are a must.
Our lively dialogue included careers (for-profit vs non-profit), favorite tech companies (including Square and Dropbox) online relationships (there are so many success stories!), love, differences between East Coast vs West Coast (tradition vs progressive, aggressive vs mellow) the science of cooking, baking substitutions, speed dating experiences, the love of London and clotted cream and next travel destinations.
One of the Mystery Meet diners used to eat at Trattoria Contadina 15 years ago when he lived in North Beach and said was a good neighborhood place. Trattoria Contadina is great for group dininge. It definitely is a lively atmosphere, the service is excellent, and the food is good. We would be back to finally sample the eggplant and maybe some of Carlesimo or the riccotta gnocchi served with a light tomato cream and asiago cheese sauce.