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Table Talk: It’s Time for Rosé and Tacos and Cake and Amatriciana Pizza

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In 2017, guest chef Kim Alter of Nightbird served taco al pastor with fermented charred corn and huitlacoche salsa for the Tacolicious guest chef taco series.  (Courtesy of Tacolicious)

This week’s highlights should feel a bit summery with news about the Tacolicious guest chef taco lineup and a rosé tasting, plus there’s the Refugee Food Festival, an all-cake dessert menu at Bluestem Brasserie, and where to find amatriciana pizza in SF.

Sujan Sarkar of ROOH served a pulled jackfruit masala taco, with pineapple kut, smoked avocado, bikaneri boondi, and baby radish for his Tacolicious guest chef taco.
Sujan Sarkar of ROOH served a pulled jackfruit masala taco, with pineapple kut, smoked avocado, bikaneri boondi, and baby radish for his Tacolicious guest chef taco. (Courtesy of Tacolicious)

The Tacolicious Guest Chef Taco Series Returns

Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, San Francisco (stand outside)
June 14–August 9, Thursdays 10am–2pm

Summertime means the Tacolicious summer guest chef taco series returns to their Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market stand. Every Thursday, one of San Francisco’s top chefs slings their take on a taco. Coming up on June 14 is Daniel Sudar of China Live (Betelnut’s minced chicken taco), June 21 is Monica Martinez of Don Bugito (edible insects!), June 28 is Adam Tortosa of Robin (miso-roasted sweet potato with Japanese chimichurri), July 7 is Freedom Rains of a Mano (Italy meets Mexico!), and July 12 is Chris Cosentino of Cockscomb (could be offal, ha-ha). Check their site and social media channels for more chef updates.

All proceeds of each chef’s taco benefits CUESA (the Center for Urban Education and Sustainable Agriculture). All Tacolicious locations, including their farmers’ market stand, will be giving away Guest Chef Series “punch cards” for visitors to bring back each week. The market-goers with the most punches will be entered to win a prize of two tickets to a CUESA Cocktail Series event, a local farm tour for two, a CUESA tote bag filled with market goodies, $25 in market coins, and a Tacolicious cookbook. Good luck!

Don’t miss the Refugee Food Festival in San Francisco.
Don’t miss the Refugee Food Festival in San Francisco. (Courtesy of Refugee Food Festival)

The Refugee Food Festival Comes to San Francisco

Refugee Food Festival
June 19–23
Various restaurants, San Francisco


June 20th is World Refugee Day and the third Refugee Food Festival is coming to 14 cities around the world in June—and how fortuitous, the festival in SF (the first stateside location) corresponds with the date! The organization is pairing local chefs and refugee chefs together for five days of pop-up dinners.

In San Francisco, the following chefs will participate, cooking alongside refugee chefs:

  • Tuesday, June 19: Hog Island in the Ferry Building, featuring Pa Wah, a Burmese chef
  • Wednesday, June 20: Tawla in the Mission District, featuring Muna, an Iraqi chef
  • Thursday June 21: DOSA on Fillmore, featuring Anu, a Bhutanese chef
  • Friday, June 22: Son’s Addition in the Mission District, featuring Muna, an Iraqi chef
  • Saturday, June 23: Jardinière in Hayes Valley, featuring Vito, a Senegalese chef

This is not a ticketed event, and reservations can be made via each restaurant's reservation system. A portion of profits from each dinner will be donated to a local organization in the Bay Area promoting integrating refugees into communities.

First launched in Paris in 2016, this year’s festival will include more than 100 restaurants in cities like New York, Amsterdam, and Athens that will open their kitchens to refugee chefs from countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Participating restaurants range from casual kitchens to Michelin-star restaurants and many refugee chefs who joined the festival have launched careers in the food industry as a result. The Refugee Food Festival partnered with the Golden Gate Restaurant Association on the SF festival.

The dreamy patio behind Arlequin.
The dreamy patio behind Arlequin. (Courtesy of The Absinthe Group)

A Rosé Tasting on the Patio at Arlequin Wine Merchant

Arlequin Wine Merchant
372 Hayes St., San Francisco
Saturday, June 23
$12 tasting

Rosé season is in full swing, and Arlequin Wine Merchant in Hayes Valley has the perfect patio to celebrate on. Which is why you won’t want to miss their Rosé Rundown Tasting Event on Saturday, June 23. They’re hosting a tasting of 12 still and sparkling rosé wines from the U.S., France, Spain, and Germany. Tickets are just $12 (for 12 tastings), and during the event, you will receive 10% off all bottles of wine sampled at Arlequin Wine Merchant. You’ll be set for the summer!

Enjoy the Strawberry Tall Cake at Bluestem Brasserie.
Enjoy the Strawberry Tall Cake at Bluestem Brasserie. (Madison Ginnett)

All-Cake Dessert Menu at Bluestem Brasserie

Bluestem Brasserie
1 Yerba Buena Lane, San Francisco
Saturday, June 23 through Labor Day
Open daily from 11am–10pm

Let them eat cake! Would a dessert menu full of just cake make you happy? Yeah, me too. Then you’ll want to swing by Bluestem Brasserie from June 23 through Labor Day (see, you can go by multiple times) as they celebrate their seventh birthday with nothing but cake on the dessert menu. Consulting pastry chef Lori Baker is one heck of a cake-maker, and will include flavors like Honolulu Hangover (chocolate cake, coconut rum filling, toasted coconut meringue) and Strawberry Tall Cake (yellow cake, strawberry cheesecake, strawberry buttercream), plus Banana Ice Cream Cake with peanut butter caramel and peanut brittle (seven in all). $1 from each cake slice sold over the summer will go to CUESA’s Foodwise Kids. Look for more fundraising events coming this summer in their Baking the World a Better Place campaign.

It’s time for amatriciana pizza. The saucy version at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana.
It’s time for amatriciana pizza. The saucy version at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. (tablehopper.com)

Amatriciana Pizza, the Ultimate Italian Mash-Up

Amatriciana, that much-adored Roman pasta dish of guanciale (cured pork jowl, AKA pure umami), tomato sauce, onion (sometimes, this can be debated heavily), and pecorino, with a kick of peperoncino (red chile), is one of the most perfect pasta dishes, especially when it’s served with the traditional choice of bucatini. You can find some good renditions here in SF, but did you know you can also find an amatriciana pizza? For this amatriciana and pizza fanatic, it’s a special kind of mash-up heaven.

For years, I’ve been enjoying the amatriciana pizza by Sharon Ardiana at Ragazza (311 Divisadero St.), made with tomato, Olli pancetta, Calabrian chilies, pecorino, oregano, and an organic egg ($18). While some folks could cry foul over the pancetta instead of guanciale, just remember, we’re talking about a pizza here. The egg also takes things in another direction, but it’s to the utterly delicious zone, so that’s great. You can also find the amatriciana pie at her pizzeria Gialina (2842 Diamond St.) in Glen Park.

If you want to play the “authentic” amatriciana pizza game, which is kind of ridiculous, but okay, the version at Pizzeria Delfina (multiple locations) is true to the original pasta dish, made with guanciale, chile, tomato, pecorino, and black pepper (which, actually, some people would argue about!). It’s $19, and the deep saucy flavor is like enjoying a bowl of the pasta, but on their tasty crust. Magic.

Leave it to the Roman owner of Montesacro Pinseria (510 Stevenson St.) in SoMa, Gianluca Legrottaglie, to offer an amatriciana version on their ancient Roman-style pinsa. Certo! Look for the Quadraro, with tomato, guanciale, red onion, hot chile, and of course, pecorino ($19).


Another location serving an amatriciana pizza is Tony’s Pizza Napoletana (1570 Stockton St.) in North Beach. Tony Gemignani’s version comes on his California-style crust, and it’s a really saucy pie, almost close to a plate of pasta. His version ($23) comes with sliced Aiello mozzarella, amatriciana tomato sauce with guanciale, onion, olive oil, and grated romano. I recommend a drizzle of his spicy oil on the table to kick things up.

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