Incanto is a rustic Italian style restaurant in Noe Valley, an upscale neighborhood and home to many urban professionals with young families. It is not your ordinary Italian restaurant serving only Italian classics; there are always options on Incanto’s menu for the more adventurous gastronome. Executive chef Chris Cosentino of “The Next Iron Chef” fame is known for his “Offal” cooking as seen on his blog.
And what is offal cooking, you may ask? It is a word derived from the slaughterhouse phrase “off fall” or the pieces that “fall off” a carcass when being butchered – Not limited to entrails but also includes the heart, liver, brain and lungs. In Filipino, laman loob and although not that uncommon in our cuisine, it has however only recently become recognized in the “foodie” community of America.
Known to often feature unusual ingredients such as lamb tripe and beef hearts in his menu, Cosentino is heard to still refuse balut! That says a lot about our delicacy, doesn’t it? 😯
A restaurant find like this is not unthinkable especially if planned by my chef-foodie brother.
A lighted showcase of Boccalone goodies greets you as you enter the cozy, rustic restaurant, which instantly stole my attention and eventually my heart. We were early for our reservations so I had time to study the menu and noted that they had more Italian classics than offal offerings, which is probably more sensible in the end as adventurous gastronome, albeit growing, is still just a small population and probably more so in the US.
We started with these beautiful breads, which are wonderful with the tapenade. Anyway, for our starters, we ordered a Boccalone Salumi Platter in Boar.
Not really understanding what “boar” stood for until we saw this huge platter in front of us. The options on the menu were Piglet, Sow and Boar; apparently it was describing the size of the platter. Hearing so many good things about Boccalone Salumeria, I wasn’t worried about it. The 4 of us devoured almost everything on the platter.
I loved it so much, on my last day of this trip, I went to their store at the Ferry Building and brought home some Nduja and Brown Sugar & fennel Salamis. Needless to say, they’re awesomely good!
My brother had this Handkerchief Pasta and Rustic Pork Ragu, which I found delightful. This is the classic dish while mine was more offal.
It’s Oxtail, Sweetbread with Rutabaga and Dandelion Salsa. Oxtail is pretty common in my part of the world and as one would expect, I enjoyed this dish a lot. It was tender, the salsa added crisp texture to the sweetbread, which is not a favorite if truth be told and I’ll take kidney or even brain over it. Sweetbreads are the thymus and the pancreatic glands of young cows, lamb or pigs.
And then there was dessert!
Chocolate-Nduja ice cream and almonds – my choice as I am so into ice cream (or anything sweet for that matter) infused with some sort of savory flavor nowadays. Nduja (en-doo-ya) is a spicy spreadable salami. I have to say, the spicy, salty salami brought this chocolate dessert to another level.
At one point through our course, a waiter knocked off a glass of wine – good thing our friend was wearing something dark – and this came on the house. I’m liking this restaurant all the more. 🙂
If you find yourself in the neighborhood or somewhere near the neighborhood and if you want to add to your gastronomic adventures, include Incanto and/or Boccalone in your list of must-tries.