Review by Alex Terwilliger
Contact InfoAddress: 557 Valencia Street (Map) Neighborhood: Mission Cuisine: Italian, Bars Website: http://www.locandasf.com/ Phone: (415) 863- 6800 Price: $$$
So here's what we think...
Brunch at Locanda is brand new, but you’d think they’ve been doing it for years. The concise menu (15 items) manages to have something for everyone, and much of it is already gluten-free. On top of that, the dining room achieves the quintessential brunch vibe; bright enough to wake you up, but dim enough to keep you feeling cozy. Locanda has been known for their outstanding dinner service for some time now, but now they’re officially on the brunch map as well, and seem to be hitting it out of the park already ...
If you’re making it a boozy brunch, you can choose from a handful of Italian-inspired as well as classic cocktails like the blood orange bellini, or bloody Mary classico. But my friend and I went the alcohol-free route last weekend and started with the lemon-lime basil cooler, and the fresh ginger soda. I’m a sucker for house-made tonics, and those were some of the best I’ve had. The lemon-lime basil cooler basically tasted like summer in a glass, and I will definitely be ordering it again. Onto the food, our first dish was a shaved artichoke salad with grilled ricotta, wild arugula, and avocado. Spring veggies are just about peaking right now, and this dish was a showcase of the super fresh ingredients within it. The flavors were bright and clean, with just the right amount of tang from the dressing and grill flavor on the ricotta. The “flight of bacon” is three different varieties (house-cured Berkshire, smoked Molinari pancetta, and Hobb’s Applewood) artfully splayed across a wooden board. It’s definitely enough for a table of 4 to share, but the two of us managed to polish the whole thing off just fine. I was thirsty the rest of the day, but I still maintain that it was worth it. Next we shared a plate of eggs benedict “carbonara,” which was a creative, Italian inspired riff on the traditional benedict, served with a “cacio e pepe” hollandaise. Of course in our case, we ordered it without the pizza bread that usually accompanies it, but it came instead with a nice side of delicately dressed greens that were a perfect pairing. A side of Eli’s latke-style hashbrowns was a necessary side dish as well, which you could also use to sop up some of that yolk and hollandaise. The golden strings of potatoes were crisped to perfection and just barely held together, just like a good latke. My absolute favorite dish however, was the eggs in purgatory: two eggs baked in a spicy tomato sauce with ultra thin shavings of pecorino melted on top, served in a mini cast iron skillet fresh out of the oven. The sauce was super tangy with just the right amount of spice, and with all that salty cheese shaved on top, I really could not find one critique for the dish. I cannot wait to have this again, and hope it stays on the brunch menu permanently. Other GF plates to consider include an asparagus and poached egg small dish, sheep’s milk yogurt and chia pudding, and smoked brisket hash with poached eggs. Brunch is a tough department to stand out in, with so many classic dishes, and places tending to play them safe. Locanda really stands out though across the board, from soup to nuts. The only thing missing from this menu for the GF crowd is something sweet (the sticky bun and pancakes are not GF), but that is due to change in the near future, since Locanda plans to roll out a gluten-free version of their cornmeal pancakes. Put this one on your hit list ladies and gents. I assure you it won’t be long before the masses catch on.