chiaroscuro: Reviews

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Chandra Love
Name: Chandra
Occupation: Financial Marketing Director
Location: Sausalito
Favorite Restaurant: chiaroscuro
Reviewed chiaroscuro: Friday, March 9, 2012

Chiaroscuro - the word itself means light-dark….this is a perfect way to describe this outstanding restaurant. The restaurant is an elegant and sophisticated place that offers versatility in their menu elections. The servers are exceptionally dynamic and are knowledgeable about the menu and are passionate about their recommendation. I have been eating at Chiaroscuro for over a year and I have never been disappointed. The chef takes pride in the quality of food by utilizing local ingredients.

I decided to celebrate my husband’s birthday dinner at the restaurant as it offers a mystical, fun, and sophisticated environment. From the moment we sat down, the staff was eagerly waiting to serve you and to talk about the menu. We each ordered a different appetizer which range from the warm octopus salad to the fritturina mista (calamari). The fritturina is usually served during lunch, but the chef was happy to prepare it for my husband, and it was fantastic. The calamari was not over cooked and not too greasy. It was wonderful and cooked to perfection and it was the right amount to share with 3 people. I had the warm octopus salad with the crispy Yukon gold potatoes, frisee, peranzana olives, toasted pistachios, and pickled onion. This dish was amazing and the octopus was cooked to perfection. Following the appetizer I ordered the half order of the carbonara, and it was to die for. This has always been my “go-to” at Chiaroscuro. I like the fact that at lunch you can order a small portion and have a larger portion for dinner; they will accommodate. This dish is what keeps me coming to the restaurant. I have travelled all over Italy and I have never eaten anything as good as this dish. The chef does an exceptional job with this dish by balancing the cheese and pasta while maintaining lightness to the dish. The moment you take the first bite you are sold, and it instantly reminds you of being in another place in time. The rest of my guests ordered the carbonara and loved it so much that one of them ordered a second portion.

If that was not enough, we were still eager to try a third course, and I could not resist trying the monkfish because this was my chance to venture out a bit. Let me say, “I was not disappointed.” The fish was light and flaky and very very fresh. The presentation was impeccable, and it was an excellent finish to a wonderful meal. Although, we brought our own wine, the wine selection is excellent and very well selected to complement the menu. In closing, I would recommend this restaurant to anyone that is looking for a modern, sophisticated restaurant with exceptional food coupled with an exceptional staff.

Chuck Mignacco
Name: Chuck
Occupation: Operations Manager
Location: Oakland
Favorite Restaurant: Lanesplitter Pizza and Pub
Reviewed chiaroscuro: Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I rode my bicycle straight from work to Chiaroscuro... big mistake! This place is elegant, romantic, and not the right place for my work clothes. When my wife arrived, the first thing she said was that she, too, was underdressed... it didn't seem to matter to the staff though, the service was perfect!


The interior is almost like a mission church with cement seats but softened with white padded pillows. The style is clean and modern. And the food is amazing with beautiful presentations and sauces that are an explosion of flavor. The chef sent out a small sample of the Rabbit Pâté that was tasty and a great start to the evening. The bread was soft and delicious with tomato-butter, I was perfectly happy with just these two... but then the pasta arrived... called Trilogia, it's a dish with three spirals, looking like a 50's beehive, of the most wonderful, differently dressed, pasta. I had to eat each mound before moving on to the next and I couldn't name my favorite, they were all so good. The best pasta, ever.

Paul the wine director chose and delivered flawless service, choosing perfect wines and then giving me the details on the back of a card... he's really on his game.

I have eaten at other places but this is the best and although expensive, because of the service I feel that I spent every dollar wisely. This is a destination place that made me feel like a king!

Lina Broydo
Name: Lina
Occupation: Public Relations Director
Location: Los Altos Hills
Favorite Restaurant: Chef Chu's
Reviewed chiaroscuro: Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Arrivederci, Roma… Buona Sera, “Chiaroscuro” in San Francisco!
Executive Chef/Owner Alessandro Campitelli, a native of Rome, Italy, is creating and serving a dining experience of a memorable culinary and artistic journey to Italy without leaving the Bay Area. On my recent outing to San Francisco Symphony’s concert, and as an overture to a lovely evening in the city, my husband and I decided to have an early dinner at Chiaroscuro**, which was a masterpiece with its food as the star! From the professional, well informed, and extremely accommodating staff (Paul, Alex and Jeannette) to superbly prepared and served cuisine accompanied by an interesting selection of very compatible wines, to the elegant ambience and decorum with open kitchen to see the culinary team in action, Chef Alessandro orchestrates a sophisticated and deliciously amazing dining experience. Ask chef about his collection of lithographs in the hallway…

The lingering memories of the fabulous visit to this restaurant with the bravado of the Symphony’s performance were the perfect grand finale for our night on the town. We are ready for this repeat performance. Bravo and grazie, Chef Alessandro, and cheers to Chiaroscuro and its staff. Ciao!

And as one famous movie star and past CA governor says: “I’ll be back.”

Here is a short description of the dishes I have tried at Chiaroscuro restaurant:

Compliment of the Chef: Amuse-Bouche, Chef’s Special Antipasti: carrots, endive, bell peppers, spring onion
Scamorza: salty cheese melting over San Daniele prosciutto, grilled asparagus, poached quail egg with truffle pearls, oil.

Main Course:
Trilogia: tasting of three classic Roman pastas: spaghetti carbonara, rigatoni amatriciana, vermicelli cacio e pepe – all Chiaroscuro’s signature pastas
Rana Pescatrice: monkfish, fried oyster, porcini-lemongrass broth, smoked sunchokes, sautéed wild mushrooms, buttery leeks

Side Dish:
Mushroom rolls, freshly baked each day with serving of the roasted tomatoes butter.

Profiteroles: house made creampuffs topped with warm dark chocolate sauce, filled with chantilly cream. Probably the most delicious dessert I have ever tasted!

Wine by the glass:
Pinot Nero – from Italy’s northern region of Alto Adige
Torgiano Rosso – from Italy’s northern region of Umbria
Water: Lauretana, mineral water from the Italian Alps
Coffee: Italian Cappuccino

Regret: Don’t be in a rush to make a concert, just stay longer, enjoy and make an exclusive date with Chiaroscuro and Chef Alessandro


** From the restaurant’s website: Chiaroscuro, Italian for clear/dark, is a term in art for a contrast between light and dark, often associated with the Italian renaissance painter Caravaggio, whose technique used to describe bold contrasts affecting a whole composition and used to achieve a sense of volume in modeling three-dimensional objects. This concept of contrasts and volume is expressed through the restaurant’s décor of the dining room, marked by high backed banquettes and an open kitchen.