With a family history in Italian cuisine, culinary experiences in Michelin starred restaurants locally and in Italy, and accomplishments at his co-owned Seven Hills restaurant, the stage was set for Alexander Alioto to take on a solo challenge at Plin. Alexander wanted his new Mission based restaurant to be a celebration of modern Italian cuisine through an extensive menu of tapas sized dishes. Exhausted from the city’s traditional red sauce italian restaurants, we became enthusiastic upon hearing about Plin’s early August opening. Giving the restaurant a month to work out kinks and setup a rhythm, we visited the dining establishment several days ago. Is the best yet to come for Alexander Alioto? Lets find out.
Exterior / Interior
[maxgallery name=”plin-san-francisco-restaurant-review-interior”]Despite brandishing a relatively large logo (including a pasta cutter image), the entrance is visually simple, subtle and clean. The trend continues inside with rich wood topped dining tables, clean stainless steel kitchen counters, and ocean wave inspired lights and paintings. The interior consists of a single dining area with an integrated bar and large rear kitchen window. Unisex bathrooms, which we have seen gain traction in New York City, added a modern and youthful vibe to the overall ambiance.
The Russian Accent (high west 7000 oat vodka, lemon, ginger shrub, mint, absinthe rinse) – $11
[maxgallery name=”plin-san-francisco-restaurant-review-russian-accent”]The Russian accent cocktail came as a pear colored liquor brimming near the top of a thin stemmed martini glass. Sipping the drink revealed a clean balanced profile incorporating lemon and ginger flavors and a smooth alcohol finish.
Kampachi Carpaccio (acadia mussel cream, finger limes, sea asparagus, black pepper, bread crumbs) – $13
[maxgallery name=”plin-san-francisco-restaurant-review-carpaccio”]The kampachi plate contained five thin slices of raw Almaco Jack topped with finger lime caviar, salt, pepper, bread crumbs, and drizzled olive oil. A mussel cream puree, cooked sea asparagus, and two small bunches of frisée surrounded the slightly pink colored fish. The fish portions were firm yet easily sliced and tasted mild and fresh. Unique elements included the bursts of citrus flavor from the finger lime and the cruciferous taste of the sea asparagus. Despite the high quality ingredients, the price seemed somewhat steep given the quantity of food.
Gnocchi With Shrimp (basil pesto sauce, chili flakes, chives) – $12
[maxgallery name=”plin-san-francisco-restaurant-review-gnocchi”]The dish contained homemade irregular shaped gnocchi and cooked shrimp portions submersed in a light pesto sauce. The gnocchi were tender, fresh, and provided a good base for the flavorful and balanced herb-infused pesto sauce.
Confit Chicken Cannelloni (tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, chicken demi, lemon zest) – $11
[maxgallery name=”plin-san-francisco-restaurant-review-chicken-cannelloni”]Each cannelloni in the confit chicken cannelloni plate was composed of a fresh sheet of rolled pasta stuffed with chopped pulled chicken. A simple tomato sauce, high quality mozzarella cheese, and sprinkled herbs completed the dish. The chicken was flavorful, and the pasta and tomato sauce tasted fresh and homemade.
Grilled Wild Walu (eggplant puree, blended heirloom tomato, Jimmy Nardello Italian peppers, fired capers) – $23
[maxgallery name=”plin-san-francisco-restaurant-review-walu”]The grilled wild walu consisted of a grilled chunk of walu surrounded by eggplant puree and a creamy tomato sauce. A sprinkle of sliced peppers and cooked capers finished off the dish. The walu had a rich creamy texture and a mild flavor. It was best enjoyed with the accompanied eggplant and tomato sauces. As with the Kampachi dish, we felt $23 was slightly high given the amount of food.
Shortcake and Peaches (vanilla lavender pastry cream, strawberry coulis and peaches drizzled with a honey butter sauce and almond crumbles) – $9
[maxgallery name=”plin-san-francisco-restaurant-review-shortcake-peaches”]The visually attractive shortcake and peaches dessert arrived as a sliced biscuit filled with a velvety vanilla bean speckled cream and small peach chunks. The light biscuit sat in a puddle of ruby red strawberry coulis and was topped with an almond crumble, translucent honey butter sauce, and additional peach pieces. Overall, the dessert was light, sweet balanced, and had an interesting amount of contrasting flavors and textures.
With the city’s seemingly endless array of available Italian restaurants, the core aspects of Italian cuisine such as simplicity, freshness, and quality is often lost. Fortunately, each of our dishes at Plin celebrated these qualities and reflected Alexander Alioto’s deep understanding and experience with the cuisine. Are we ready to spread the news about Plin? All this excellence does not come cheap and many people might get turned off by the expense of ordering three to four dishes per person to fill an empty stomach. However, when compared to all the new restaurants being opened by popular chefs, Plin’s prices are on par and we definitely recommend the restaurant for its homemade pastas, unique ingredients, and high quality food.