In the Noe Valley area of San Francisco, far from the usual tourist neighborhoods, Incanto offers a different kind of Italian food. The daily changing menu features house cured meats, unusual pastas, organ meats, and fresh local seafood.
If you are on a low fat, low cholesterol diet, check your diet at the curb. One night recently, the offerings included crackling, which is fried pork fat, or bread smeared with lardo and fried. An entrée that same night was sweetbreads and kidneys. Even the relatively benign and very delicious pork chop came with kale that included chunks of bacon.
Incanto is so dedicated to serving only the freshest ingredients, that the web site posts only a sample menu. It includes such items as local sardines with tangerine, which I enjoyed completely, quail, lamb neck and duck leg.
In Italy, all food is regional, based on what is locally available. Incanto’s kitchen behaves as though California were just another region of Italy. While the preparation is styled after Italian cooking, the dishes are unique to the Bay Area.
Then there’s the wine list. It is distinctly Italian and offers more than 20 different wines by the glass.
Noe Valley is a residential area and it’s a bit of a trip from Union Square or the other areas where visitors tend to stay. Incanto is in many ways a neighborhood restaurant, with a familiarity between the staff and the customers. Yet, we felt welcomed and well fed.