I have a dirty little secret. And no, it’s not my unnatural love for Kelly Clarkson—I’ve been out about that for ages. My confession is this: It’s been seven years since the last time I ate at Delfina. (Forgive me, Father. For I have sinned.)
Way back in 2001, I had a completely unspectacular meal at the much-lauded Delfina, and I never went back. Too many other places to try, I guess. Plus, there was the pressure. I mean, EVERYBODY loves Delfina, right? I didn’t want to be a hater. Factor in the difficulty of getting reservations, and the next thing you know, seven years pass, quick as a wink.
Thankfully, my friend and occasional project manager, Patrice, provided some divine intervention. We finished up a successful project at work, and she treated the team to a celebration dinner at Delfina last Thursday. Granted, we had to eat like senior citizens at 5:30, but I just pretended we were on East Coast time and it worked out fine.
Delfina is no vegetarian haven, but what you can get is so freakin’ good, it’s worth the work of picking through the menu.
The table started with warm Castelvetrano Olives, those green, buttery balls of heaven. They serve them with a bit of orange peel. The flavor hits your tongue immediately—just a soft kiss—then melts away before the second chew. It’s so odd. I’m used to the reverse, where secondary flavors hide behind the main attraction, only to peek out a few bites in. So maybe these olives are deliciously dyslexic.
We also tried the Roasted Tokyo Turnips and their greens, which found their beauty in simplicity. I could have eaten the entire plate.
Next, I had the Star Route Farm Little Gem Lettuce with Radishes, Sieved Egg, Gorgonzola and Lemon Vinaigrette. The Gorgonzola was mild, and added a wonderful balance of salt that didn’t overwhelm. (Sometimes Gorgonzola can be a bossy little bitch.) I also stole a bite (or six) of Patrice’s Escarole with Fuyu Persimmons, Hazelnuts, Parmigiano and Champagne Vinaigrette. Exquisite acidity, y’all. Apparently, they’re not afraid to let their salads sing with a little zip. As it should be.
I cheated a bit on the main, since there were certainly no vegetarian secondi options. I ordered the Cauliflower Soup with Paprika Oil and Cumin Croutons, which was, shockingly, totally vegetarian. (Couldn’t have been vegan, though. That shizzle was creamy.) The table shared a plate of Spaghetti with Plum Tomatoes and Peperoncini, which helped fill the main course gap, so I was satisfied. The pasta had a great hit of spice and perfect texture.
And then…and then…oh…then the Panna Cotta. Yeah, we had some chocolate cake thing that was delicious, and we shared some profiteroles that rocked, but, oh, the Panna Cotta. So smooth. Like, let’s say Delfina’s Panna Cotta enters a smooth competition against Barry White, a pile of silk, and a newborn baby’s ass…Panna Cotta wins, hands down.
I’m sorry, San Francisco. I was a fool. It’s official now. I heart Delfina.