Cotogna, which means “quince” in Italian (more on that later), is the hottest reservation in town. The first available table for 2 on a random OpenTable search is TUESDAY, June 28th and [again] TUESDAY July 5th. My next search attempt for a Saturday brought back nothing, so this is proof that Chef Michael Tusk has created something exceedingly grand over on this corner of Pacific and Montgomery in Jackson Square. Next door is Quince, Tusk’s fine-dining, white-table cloth establishment. Yes that is where to go if you’re on the expense account. Cotogna, however, is the more casual compliment to the other dining destination.
On this particular occasion, The Dapper Diner and I walked over to Cotogna after a pre-dinner cocktail at 15 Romolo. We arrived and were seated at a great table by the window. (Side note: I totally love sitting closely to other tables and especially when you know the ones around you are on first dates.) After ordering a cocktail, Chef Michael Tusk sent out a dish – it was Fava Beans Five Ways. This was a perfect dish to represent one of the best vegetables of the spring season. We also tried the thick slices of the house made Duck Paté on crostini with Cherry Mostarda. It was the perfect salty-sweet combination.
Then for the Antipasti course we ordered the Burrata Cheese with Beets & Mache and Wild Nettle Sformato with Grana Padano. I can’t express how much I love burrata and the creamy, rich cheese pairs excellently with the tangy roasted beets and the mild flavor of mache lettuce. The nettle dish was extremely delectable and reminded me of a custard or a savory flan.
We moved onto the “La Griglia” course with the Spit Roasted Pork Loin with Fennel and the Leg of Lamb with Artichoke & English Peas. Both dishes were perfectly cooked, moist and delicious. But honestly, would I expect anything less from the 2011 James Beard Foundation winner for “Best Chef: Pacific“?!
Naturally, we finished with a Dolci course of Bomboloni with Ricotta, Kumquat & Limoncello sauce and drove over to Benu for a glass of champagne. All in all it was a lovely evening!
Advice for Cotogna: either 1) make a friend on the inside who can get you a reso, 2) plan well in advance, or 3) get there early to grab a bar seat. Don’t forget to check out the $24 prix fixe menu as well!