In March, San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino announced that he'd be closing the 12-year-old eatery Incanto. Despite Cosentino's reputation as a pioneer in offal-centric cuisine and his ascent into the world of celebrity chefdom, in recent years, his flagship fine dining restaurant had been met with mixed reviews. (I admittedly was one of those diners who never understood the restaurant's hype; at one of its annual farmers' appreciation dinners, the most memorable part of the meal was the duck farmer who sat across from me.) A month later, Cosentino and his partner, Mark Pastore, reinvented the space as an entirely new casual concept, a restaurant-slash-retail space named Porcellino. Guests can swing by to pick up a few bottles of Sangiovese and cured meats for later, or they can order salumi platters, sandwiches, pastas, and more at the counter and stay. After a recent visit, I'm convinced Porcellino makes more sense right now than the restaurant that stood there before it.
Given that the restaurant switchover happened so quickly, it wasn't a surprise that the space looked nearly identical, with the same burnished arches and tromp l'oeil earthen walls, which have since fallen out of favor and lend the place a dated look. Still, there were a few new details, most notably this retro movie poster hanging by the window, a humorous nod to one of Cosentino's popular cured meat preparations.
While a few eclectic Incanto standbys (like the signature spaghettini with egg yolk and shaved tuna heart) still make appearances as specials, Porcellino's menu is less ambitious: no longer will you see plates that showcase beef heart and lamb kidneys. But that's actually a good thing: what comes out of the kitchen accessible, approachable, and, most importantly, downright delicious. After all, who cares how elevated a dish is supposed to be if the first bite doesn't make you hum with delight?