If you’ve read at all about the SF dining scene, it would be difficult to avoid hearing about Zero Zero. They’ve been written up in just about every major and minor publication for their upscale Neapolitan pizzas and cocktails, but prior to this visit I just never had any reason to head over to that Northeastern part of SoMa for a meal. But one day I found myself in that part of town at around 10 PM hungry and in need of a good cocktail or two, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to see what the hype was all about.
First of all, Zero Zero’s lofty multi-level space is very well-designed and just flat-out looks impressive. Everything about it from the low-lighting, wood-lined walls, wrought-iron accents, and soft glowing bar are well thought out and really set the tone as a date-night kind of place. If you need a sexy spot in this part of town, add this to the list.
But like I said, I was in major need of a good drink so I started off my meal with a cocktail called Peat and Repeat which was made with Willet Rye Whiskey, Lemon, Ardbeg 10 yr Scotch, and Lemon Bitter Soda. This drink had all of the makings of a beverage I would instantly fall in love with, so there was no surprise that I was obsessed with it. It was smokey – very smokey in fact, but it was also went down incredibly smooth. I know I’ll be back for another one of these very soon.
To kick the meal off, we began with a Local Halibut Crudo which came as two individually-portioned, large, rectangular slabs of raw halibut simply dressed with cured cucumber, pickled shallots, mint shichimi togarashi, lemon, and Del Monaco extra virgin olive oil.
It was a fairly mild preparation, but it really did an excellent job highlighting the freshness of the fish and had just enough flavorful punch to keep me coming back for more. At $9, it may not seem like a great deal, but I think it was an absolute steal for the quality and freshness of this carefully assembled starter.
Next, we split Stuffed Squash Blossoms as a second shared starter. And holy crap, if you want to get me to eat veggies, this is how you do it!
The light, fresh zucchini flowers were stuffed with ricotta then lightly tempura-battered and deep fried. Those large, vegetal, fried treats were then topped with a flavorful and colorful Southern corn relish made with sweet corn, summer squash, basil, chives, and espelette peppers and drizzled in a mascarpone sauce. This creamy, crispy, bold, bright combination was a real winner and was exactly the right way to trick me into eating vegetables.
At this point, it was then time for another cocktail. I knew I wanted something gin based this time and requested a drink from the bartender that wasn’t too floral or sweet. He whipped up a Treasure Island which was made with Bummer and Lazarus Gin, Dolin Blanc, Cocchi Americano, and Absinthe and was garnished with a sprig of thyme.
It definitely had sweet and floral notes, but in just the right balance so they didn’t overwhelm the flavor profile. This was another really excellent drink if you’re into slightly more herbal flavors though I think I preferred the Peat and Repeat given the choice.
And finally it was time for my main course. Although the pizzas get most of the press at Zero Zero, I had also heard great things about their pasta offerings and felt like some well made noodles would fit my mood perfectly. I consulted with the bartender about which option to go for and he directed me towards a crazy sounding one called Radiatore Goodman Ranch Veal Shank “Ossobuco”.
I don’t think I had ever had radiatore noodles before, but they were great and really suited this dish well. They sort of resembled a clown’s neck ruffle, but I think they probably got their name from their visual similarity to a hot water radiator – like the kind you frequently see heating old NYC apartments.
The wriggly, jaggy texture did actually serve a purpose. All of the zig-zagging surfaces masterfully soaked up a ton of that deliciously thick sauce into its every one of its crevices. That sauce was loaded with big, tender, meaty hunks of veal and was additionally fortified by dark, leafy, lacinato kale, marrow butter, and herby gremolata. It was a very rich and meaty concoction and nicely paid homage to the traditional preparation of osso buco in its own unique way. This was a killer pasta dish and a truly excellent recommendation from my waiter.
So if you’re looking for an impressive, high-quality date night spot in this part of SoMA with a menu that could be enjoyed by a diner with any level of palette adventure, Zero Zero has you covered. There’s plenty of excitement to be found on the menu, though pickier eaters with feel right at home with any of the simpler offerings. This spot would work especially well for first or second date when you still don’t know your date’s taste and don’t want to push it too far.
Got another great date spot in San Francisco I should check out? Let me know in the comments below.
826 Folsom St. San Francisco, CA 94107