SF: Tratto Serves Up Traditional Italian Fare in Bustling Setting

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Tratto prosciutto with figs and aged balsamic credit Patrick Chin
Prosciutto with figs

Photo Credit: Patrick Chin

For the past five years the restaurant space at the corner of Taylor and Geary streets in downtown San Francisco has suffered an identity crisis. The heavily trafficked location was once the home of The Grand Cafe, a large and impressive eatery that served locals and tourists for two decades. After that, the space which had 230 seats, was transformed into a glitzy-Ken Fulk designed 111-seat modern public house called BDK. There was a splashy opening and plenty of fanfare, but a couple months into BDK’s run, the hotel adjacent to (and in charge of operating the restaurant) changed ownership. Overnight the entire staff walked out. The space went dark for a couple of weeks before recently reopening as its latest incarnation, Tratto—a laid back and bustling Italian eatery from the Puccini Group.

Tratto Boozy Italian Soda and Rafe Gabel, Puccini Group Operations 2 credit Patrick Chin
A housemade boozy Italian soda

Photo Credit: Patrick Chin

Walk into Tratto and you’ll instantly notice something that was missing from the space before. The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming—jazz plays in the background. Waiters move quickly, clearing plates and delivering pizzas. Tables are crowded with chatting guests enjoying housemade pasta and carafes of red wine. The crowd is a mixture of young and old and the scent of fried food lingers heavily in the air. There is a bustling alive quality to the restaurant. Perhaps the space has finally found the perfect combination of cuisine, ownership, and decor that will make it a long success? We think so. Fulk’s masculine glam decor has been replaced by a more family-friendly look. The walls are painted a warm cream color and a hand drawn rendering of the San Francisco skyline, in red marker on a white background, dominates the space. Artist Amos Goldbaum created the cityscape specifically for the restaurant. The tables are black wood, the floor is black and white diamond-printed tiles, and abstract chandeliers hang from the ceiling. A black-and-white movie plays, projected onto the wall above the bar.

Delicious pappardelle
Delicious pappardelle

Photo Credit: Patrick Chin

Chef Kevin Scott’s menu is broken into several sections. There are small bites like deep-fried Venetian-style meatballs, rich-and-creamy chicken liver mousse, and eggplant caponata with grilled bread. There is nothing innovative or extraordinary about the salads, pasta, or pizza—and that is perfectly okay—it’s excellently executed classic Italian trattoria food. Think wild arugula salad with shaved fennel and parmesan and a tangy lemon vinaigrette; thick sheets of pappardelle coated in a buttery tomato sauce; and crisp-crusted pizza piled high with fontina cheese and mushrooms. There are a handful of meat entrees: iron-skillet skirt steak with salsa verde, chicken breast cooked under a brick, and pan-roasted sea bass with olive tapenade. It’s a solid menu and you can’t go wrong by ordering several of the dishes and sharing them with the table. There is a list of signature cocktails including a negroni made with egg whites and an Italian punch with ginger beer, but the housemade seasonal syrups are sensational in a boozy Italian soda—it’s a must order. Sit back, take in the scene, and stay awhile. Tratto, with its lively vibe and scrumptious eats, is here to stay.

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