Restaurants

CoffeeThis is just a short list of some of my favorites; I could go on and on. I'm always looking for that out-of-the-way spot with warm inviting service, really cool atmosphere and of course, great food. And I love when there is a woman chef in the kitchen!

Bay Area, Berkeley & Oakland
 
Chez Panisse
1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94709
510.548.5525 (Restaurant)
510.548.5049 (Café)
www.chezpanisse.com
Nothing comes close to my alma mater, this tried-and-true institution. If I lived next door, I would eat here every time I am in town. Alas, I am a bridge away from the best pizzas, pastas, and salads this side of the Atlantic!
Oliveto
5655 College Ave., Oakland, CA
510.547.5356
www.oliveto.com
Paul Canales is an excellent chef who produces some of the best Italian food in the Bay Area. I love going there for the special event dinners - including tomatoes, risotto, and truffles!
   
Marin/Larkspur
 
Picco
320 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur, California 94939
415.924.0300
www.restaurantpicco.com
My friend Bruce Hill opened Restaurant Picco and Pizzeria Picco next door to the restaurant. I am in love with his pizzas–and even learned how to make them in their 700 degree wood-fired ovens! You also have to try their soft serve ice cream drizzled with olive oil and sea salt–divine.
 
   
Napa
 
Terra
1345 Railroad Avenue, St. Helena, CA 94574
707.963.8931
www.terrarestaurant.com
My friends Lissa and Hiro own this restaurant and the food is amazing. It is New American with Mediterranean and Asian influences.
Bistro Don Giovanni
4110 Howard Lane, Napa, CA 94558
707.224.3300
www.bistrodongiovanni.com
I never know what to pick on this menu. To me, that is the sign of a good restaurant. I want everything!
   
San Francisco
 
Ame
689 Mission Street inside the St. Regis, San Francisco, CA 94101
415.284.4040
www.amerestaurant.com
My friends Lissa and Hiro opened this fantastic restaurant in the St. Regis Hotel. The interior is beautiful and it is the perfect spot for that special dinner!

Delfina
3621 18th St., San Francisco, CA 94110
415.552.4055
http://www.delfinasf.com
I call this the Chez Panisse of San Francisco. I love Craig's food and eat here every chance I get.

   
Destino
1815 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94103
415.552.4451
www.destinosf.com
Love those Latin flavors! Great small plates here.
El Metate Restaurant
2406 Bryant St., San Francisco, CA 94110
415.641.7209
http://www.elmetate.com
Funky, fun Mexican restaurant. When I crave soft tacos filled with carnitas, I get on my scooter and head for this taqueria. If I close my eyes, I can almost imagine I am in Mexico. It's like going on vacation! Love the fresh fruit drinks and, of course, the Negro Modelo, dark Mexican beer served icy cold.
   
Farallon Restaurant
350 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 956-6969
www.farallonrestaurant.com
I absolutely love the Oyster Bar at Farallon! The oysters and lobster claws were out of this world. I especially liked the array of oysters. And the staff and service are impeccable.
Gary Danko San Francisco
800 North Point, San Francisco, CA
415.749.2060
www.garydanko.com
My best chef friend's extraordinary restaurant. The service, the wine list, the food: all unsurpassed! Try the horseradish-crusted salmon, one of his signature dishes. Look familiar??? Gary gave me the recipe to put into one of my cookbooks! Getting a reservation can be a bit of a challenge. Book early! Or let me tell you a little secret: eat at the bar. And go early since you can't make reservations for the bar.
   
Kokkari
200 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA
415.981.0983
www.kokkari.com
This upscale Greek taverna is one of my neighbourhood haunts. You will sometimes find me at the bar sipping wine and eating the best tzatziki this side of the Atlantic!
NOPA
560 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
415.864.8621
http://www.nopasf.com
A wonderful restaurant in SF opened by my dear friend and talented chef, Laurence Jossel. Laurence is another Gary Danko alum who branched off in a more Mediterranean direction. A fun place for drinks and dinner with friends in a hip and still up-and-coming neighborhood, North of the Panhandle. Laurence's fritto misto and flat breads are sensational!
   
Piperade
1015 Battery St, San Francisco, CA 94111
415.391.2555
http://www.piperade.com
Another neighborhood favorite, Piperade makes the best Basque food. Order the warm piquillo peppers filled with goat cheese and check out the wine list. It‘s fantastic! The chef Gerald and his wife Cameron are two of the best hosts in town!
Range
842 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
415.282.8283
http://www.rangesf.com
My friends, Phil and Cameron West, who also happen to be husband and wife, are the incredible team behind the delicious, heart-warming food at Range.
   
Seasons Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel
757 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
(Inside the Four Seasons Hotel)
415.633.3838
www.fourseasons.com/sanfrancisco
The Four Seasons is one of my favorite places to stay–and I'm a big fan of Chef Jeremy Emmerson's food. A glass of wine in the bar is a must!
Slanted Door
1 Ferry Building #3 San Francisco, CA 94111
415.861.8032
www.slanteddoor.com
Charles Phan knows how to run a restaurant. I like to sit at a table, if I can get a reservation, but I’d much rather have dinner at the bar. Try the whole fish of the day with a glass of fresh, crisp Gruner Veltliner.
   
Tres Agaves
130 Townsend Street, San Francisco, CA 94101
415.227.0500
www.tresagaves.com
My friends Chef Joseph Manzare, Eric Rubin, and Julio Bermejo have created one of my favorite San Francisco hangouts! The margaritas are the best outside of Mexico, and the tequila selection is incredible. Try the Chilpachole soup and the Carnitas! Make sure you get Julio or Eric to tell you the whole tequila story. And don't forget to tell them I sent you!
Wine Bar and Shop
2 Embarcadero Center (Street Level), San Francisco, CA 94111
415.391.0758
www.winebarsf.com
I know this isn't a restaurant but its a fantastic place to taste wine. Lots of good energy and great wines, what more can you ask for? Mark Dirsa has a fantastic palate and is a real character. Hopefully you will be there one night when he is feeling pretty loose with the Champagne corks! Also known to be a great place to meet the man of your dreams!
   
Zarzuela
2000 Hyde St., San Francisco, CA 94109
415.346.0800
Love tapas. (I wrote a whole book about them!) This is one of my favorite neighborhood spots in San Francisco. Try the pan con tomates, a great way to judge a tapas restaurant!
Zuni Café
1658 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94102-5949
415.552.2522
http://www.zunicafe.com
One of my favorite San Francisco restaurants, always buzzing, always good. Try the hamburger with French fries late at night or a Bloody Mary at the bar. And the pizzas and salads are unrivaled.
   
Los Angeles
 
A.O.C.
8022 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048
323.653.6359
http://www.aocwinebar.com
I love wine bars and I love small plates–A.O.C. is always a stop on my trips to LA!
Campanile
624 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.938.1447
www.campanilerestaurant.com
This is the kind of food I love to eat–simple, fresh, and seasonal.
   
Lucques
8474 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, CA 90069
323.655.6277
www.lucques.com
Chef Suzanne Goin is a fellow Chez Panisse alum who just received the James Beard Award for Best Chef in California. I love her Sunday Suppers–lots of long braising and wonderful seasonal ingredients.
Gjelina
1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291
310.450.1429
A hip new restaurant in Venice, featuring wood-fired pizzas and farmers' market-driven menus. I dream of Gjelina!
   
Comme Ça
8479 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, CA 90069
323.782.1104
www.commecarestaurant.com
This is a great place for celebrity-spotting!
Santa Monica Seafood Oyster Bar
1000 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica CA, 90401
310.393.5244
www.smseafood.com
I had the most amazing piece of salmon here. The bar is very cool and the oysters are great.
   
   
Chicago, Illinois
 
Arun's Restaurant
4156 N Kedzie Ave., Chicago, IL 60618
773.539.1909
http://www.arunsthai.com
I love traveling to Thailand and this is as close to eating in Thailand as you will get! The Chef's Menu is incredible (10+ courses) and is the best way to experience this very special place. The wine list is over-the-top. They even have my favorite Sauvignon Blanc, Pur Sang on the list!
 
   
New York City
 
Bella Vitae
24 Minetta Lane, New York, NY 10012
212.473.5121
www.bellavitae.com
I am a huge fan of wine bars and small plates, and an even bigger fan of my friend Rolando's fantastic restaurant. The gnocco fritto is so delicious, as are the spaghetti cacio e pepe. Bring a friend and taste a few different things together! Fun to sit at the bar.
Bottega del Vino
7 E 59th St, New York, NY 10022
212.223.3028
www.botteganyc.com
This is the NYC outpost of the original Antica bottega in Verona. I love to come here for lunch and have a piadina, salad, and of course a glass of wine of which they have a gigantic list by the glass!
   
DANIEL
60 E. 65th Street, New York, NY 10021
212.288.0033
www.danielnyc.com
Chef Daniel Boulud is an incredible chef and wonderful person. I have a few friends who joined DANIEL from San Francisco and I am always happy to see them when I visit NYC.
Del Posto
85 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011
212.497.8090
http://www.delposto.com
Del Posto is the latest restaurant opened by Joe Bastianich, Lidia Bastianich, and Mario Batali. I went there on a recent trip to NYC and loved the fritto misto, pastas, Joe's private label wines and wonderful service.
   
Devi
8 East 18th Street, New York, NY 10079
212.691.1300
www.devinyc.com
This is my friend and fellow chef Suvir Saran's incredible restaurant in Manhattan. I went on an unforgettable tour of India with Suvir in 2006 and can't wait to go back to India and Devi!
ESCA
402 W 43rd St, New York, NY 10036
212.564.7272
http://www.esca-nyc.com
I really love seafood and Esca is one of my favorite seafood restaurants. Have fun tasting different dishes from the crudo menu and then try the branzino for 2 people!
   
Maremma
228 W. 10th Street, New York, NY 10014
212.645.0200
www.maremmanyc.com
My friend Cesare Casella cooks some of the best food outside of Italy! A few of my favorite dishes from the menu at Maremma include: anything with beans (Cesare imports them from Italy), the Tuscan chili, the Moonshine pasta with tomato, bourbon, and grana padano, and of course his famous Tuscan fries!

   
Union Square Cafe
21 East 16th St., New York, NY 10003
212.243.4020
http://www.unionsquarecafe.com
Sometimes I feel like I am in some other city besides Manhattan when I am here. The service is SO friendly and the food is wonderful. Eat at the bar, it is really fun!
 
   
Philadelphia
 
Alison at Blue Bell
721 Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, PA
215.641.2660
www.alisonatbluebell.com
I love participating in the annual Book & The Cook event with Chef Alison Barshak. She is a talented chef and I love eating her Mediterranean-inspired food whenever I get a chance.
Vetri
1312 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
215.732.3478
http://www.vetriristorante.com
Chef Marc Vetri won a Beard Award the same year I did. Had the opportunity to eat at his restaurant recently and it felt like I was eating in Italy! Try the antipasto platter (it's almost a complete meal) and the roasted capretto (baby goat) that was out of this world.
   
Washington  
Salumi
309 3rd Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98104
206.621.8772
www.salumicuredmeats.com
Owned by Armandino Batali (Mario's dad), Salumi serves up some of the most delicious cured meats I've ever tasted in the US! Worth a special trip to Seattle!
 
   
France
 
Le Comptoir
Hotel Relais Saint-Germain
9, carrefour de l'Odéon
Paris 75006
phone: +33 (0)1.44.22.07.97
This is the hottest new bistro in Paris!

Les Trois Salons
18, rue du Docteur-Blanchard
30700 Uzés
Languedoc-Roussillon / Gard, France
tel: +33 (04) 66.22.57.34
I take my students for lunch at Les Trois Salons each year after we finish our tour of the famous outdoor market in Uzes. The food is inventive and light and each course keeps you wanting more! I love eating both indoors as well as in the courtyard!

   
Italy
 
Osteria dell'Arco
Piazza Savona, 5
12051 - ALBA (CN)
Tel. 0173.363974
www.boccondivinoslow.it/home-arco.htm
I take my students here every year to experience Slow Food. They make a salt-roasted onion filled with fonduta that you might just see in one of my cookbooks someday, and the brasato in Barolo is extraordinary. I also love the baked egg with white truffles which might very well be the best thing I have.
13 Gobbi
Via del Porcellana 9/r, Florence, Italy
055.284015
You can almost imagine Tony Soprano walking into this spot. I am lucky they let me in... But I have good friends who are friends of theirs. I always order the same thing: the pasta with the tomatoes and melting mozzarella and the Tuscan rib-eye! Like butter!
   
Matricianella
Via del Leone, 4, Rome, Italy
06.6832100
http://www.matricianella.it
Like eating in an Italian home. I can never decide what to order, everything is delicious... Kind of a wild place, too!
Bar Merca
Corso Popolo, 110, 30172 Venezia (VE)
+39 041 5320295
A local favourite for tapas at lunch time. People crowd this outdoor bar eating panini and sipping prosecco. This happens to be one of my personal favourites!
   
Osteria Al Portego
Castello San Lio 6015
+39 041 5229038
If you can find this bacaro, by all means check it out! It’s near the Rialto Bridge near Malvasia but that’s about all I can tell you. Well worth the trouble finding it!
Osteria Antico Dolo
San Polo 778, ruga vecchia San Giovanni, Rialto, Venice, Italy
041 5226546
http://www.anticodolo.it
This is the oldest baccaro in Venice. Belly up to the bar and point at what you want to eat. The local wines and prosecco are fantastic and the place is always hopping with the vendors from the Rialto Market.
   
Osteria Do Mori
San Polo 429, calle dei Do Mori, Rialto, Venice, Italy
041 5225401
If you like small plates like I do, you will love the cichetti at this hole-in-the-wall baccaro tucked into the bowels of Venice. Love the little sandwiches, croquettas, and crostini all washed down with prosecco.
 
   
Spain
 
Casalarreina La Rioja
La Vieja Bodega
Avenida de la Rioja, 17 - 26230 Casalarreina (La Rioja)
+34 941 32 42 54
www.viejabodega.com
If you make your way to La Rioja, this is a must! Angel Perez Aguilar, the owner, is a dear friend but that isn’t why I am telling you about his restaurant. The food is delicious. You have to try the beef from the asador, or wood oven/grill, and a bottle of Rioja chosen from his incredible wine list. Make sure you ask for a tour of the wine cellar! And don’t forget to tell him I sent you. He will take good care of you!
Lua
Zurbano, 85 - 28003 Madrid
+34 913 952 853
A set menu, the chef shops at the market daily to see what is the freshest and finest! Brilliant and yet undiscovered, this place is tiny, so it’s best to reserve.
   
La Tasquita de Enfrente
Calle de la Ballesta, 6 -  28004 Madrid
+34 91 532 54 49
Juanjo López Bedemar is the chef of this tiny but charming place. It’s about traditional Spanish dishes with a twist using impeccably fresh produce. Reserve!