A selection of musings from our weekly newsletter, The Weekend Edit.
December 29, 2023
Designing Delicious: Octavia
Californian cuisine isn’t so much a food category as a state of mind. Nico Pena, Executive Chef of San Francisco’s Octavia, embodies the locavore philosophy whose roots trace back to the great Alice Waters and her seminal restaurant Chez Panisse, which debuted in the 1970s. Owned by Chef Melissa Perello, Octavia is more than a cozy neighborhood establishment—it's a testament to the Golden State’s farm-to-table ethos. “We focus on the relationships with farmers, they dictate the menu,” Pena says. “The concept is very market-driven.”
Housed in a rustic space among the Victorian homes that dot the Lower Pac Heights neighborhood, interiors are adorned in a mural by local artist Caroline Lizarraga and accented with vintage pottery from NorCal maker Elsie Green.
November 22, 2023
Designing Delicious: Cuina Alba
The sourdough starter brigade rejoiced when Chef Adam Leonti published the cookbook Flour Lab: An At Home Guide to Baking with Freshly Milled Grains. So it’s perhaps no surprise that the Italian restaurant where he serves as Head Chef, New York City’s Cucina Alba, also has a need to knead—churning out fresh focaccia in a Roman oven and milling Pennsylvania-grown wheat right on the premises.
Even the space itself has the warm, comforting feel of a plump loaf of sourdough, fresh from the oven. Tucked along the High Line on 18th Street, Alba’s interior is sheathed in blonde woods, gauzy draperies, and sculptural banquettes. The menu is dotted with the types of dishes Americans naturally gravitate to when they’re living la dolce vita abroad, such as spaghettini vongole and scampi-style gnocchi studded with shrimp from the Gulf. “My family is from Italy and has been cooking Italian food my whole life,” says New York-born Leonti, who helped open the place in partnership with Prince Street Hospitality. “We’re focusing on those things that we’re familiar with while putting our own twist to make sure it feels like you’re at home in New York at the same time.”
One particularly beloved offering is the agnolotti, which is filled with caramelized onion and cowled with slivers of black truffle. “It’s taken off right away,” Leonti says. Another signature, a crispy chicken served with Calabrian bomba sauce, “is almost like a saltimbocca with the sage just snuck underneath the skin,” he says…made all the more delicious with a negroni poured tableside to the tune of music by Gianni Morandi. “You’re really going to feel like you’re not in the city for a day—and maybe you’re on your vacation in Italy,” Leonti says. “We’re really trying to bring people to those places they’ve been, and those memories.” Consider us transported.
October 20, 2023
Designing Delicious: Cosme
“A Mexican restaurant should be high-energy. When you think of Mexico, you think about partying,” says Enrique Olvera, founder of Cosme. A household name for the culinary crowd, Olvera is best known for redefining Mexican cuisine at Pujol, a longtime resident of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. His first foray into the New York dining scene, Cosme melds the city’s penchant for a particular brand of understated chic and the liveliness expected of a Mexican cantina.
At Cosme, contemporary Mexican fare takes on new cultural influences. Fluke aquachile is topped with thinly sliced radishes and cucumber and dusted with grated wasabi; sweet potato tamal is flavored with guajillo chilis and Japanese togarashi. Rohan ducks are cured for three days, seared to golden brown, and braised with Mexican Coke and ancho chili pepper to create Cosme’s signature carnitas. The cornhusk meringue, an Instagram darling, combines savory corn mousse and burnt vanilla ice cream topped with sea salt and pulverized corn husk. The menu is bolstered by an agave-forward beverage program from Jorsand Diaz that hews traditional with palomas and margaritas, though some cocktails play with global ingredients like yuzu and Calpico.
November 22, 2023
Signature Dish: Cucina Alba
At Cucina Alba, amber hues are for more than waves of grain, they’re the sign your steak fiorentina is cooked to perfection. After sprinkling the 20-day, dry-aged American wagyu with fennel salt and grilling to the desired color, a pat of butter is added to the cast iron and infused with crushed garlic, chilis, and herbs. Once the butter browns, in goes the fresh cream and parmesan to form a caramelized crust. Book a table on the Dorsia app to taste for yourself.
November 17, 2023
Signature Dish: Cosme
Good things take time. For proof, just look to Cosme where preparation for the signature duck carnitas is a multi-day affair. After curing for three days, the ducks are braised overnight atop a mirepoix of onion, garlic, and ancho chili. The next day they’re ready to be crisped and served with tortillas for self-serve tacos we’re more than willing to wait for. Book a table on the Dorsia app to get a taste for yourself.