It seems like just yesterday that I started here at Incanto, but 7 years later it’s time for some change. No, I am not leaving. Mark and I decided it was time to refresh the dining room. The goal with everything in life is to improve and that is what we are always striving to do here. We have added some beautiful images on the wall from Lisa Hamilton, a banquette along the Duncan street wall, replaced the carpet with a poured floor and added a large communal dinning table that seats 18. That is just the beginning of the changes. The “Odds and Ends” board and my 10 point buck have also entered the fold. Here are a few images to give you a taste of Incanto 2.0. I look forward to seeing you here soon, I hope you like the redo as much as I do.
After the break there is a “Letter from Incanto” explaining a little bit more about the changes from my buisness partner Mark Pastore.
A leg up A new decade at Incanto
By mark Pastore
About an hour ago we opened the doors for dinner service. Just as we have for virtually every other non-Tuesday night for the past eight years. But tonight is different. I’m especially excited about opening our doors tonight. I thought you might like to know why.
We’ve entered a new year; a new decade. With the passage of time, we’ve learned a great deal about ourselves: our perfections and imperfections, what inspires us, and what we want to be when we grow up. Now seemed as good a time as any to refresh Incanto’s physical space, refocus our energies on what we love most, and – hopefully – to refine our craft.
I’ve been meaning to write to you every day for the past week to share this exciting news. But for the past week has been chock-full of contractors, hard work, and very early days, as we were laboring to bring to you the new Incanto 2010. Every night, by the time I sat down to draft something, it was midnight or 1:00 a.m. and I hadn’t yet eaten dinner. Somehow, I kept falling asleep at the page.
So without further ado, here’s what’s new:
The Dining Room
You’ll notice some significant changes to the main dining room when you next visit, which we made with the generous assistance of our friends Jack Verdon and Peter Jenny at Verdon Jenny Architects. Our carpet had worn out (again) and so we have put down a new floor. It’s sleek and new and very hip. Made by craftsmen from right here in Noe Valley. Brown is the new black.
The brocaded drapes have come down. In their place are some fantastic photos, very large, very colorful (see above for one) taken by our good friend Lisa Hamilton. As a bonus, the new photos hide heavy-duty acoustic panels to further dampen the noise of a busy dining room. We’ve also hidden a few more panels around the dining room to help take the din out of dinner. If you’re curious, ask us and we’ll be happy to point them out. They’re pretty well hidden.
Our beautiful American cherry tabletops were starting to show some signs of wear, tear, and occasional knife-sawing along the edge. We’ve refinished them with a matte finish and they look gorgeous.
Last, we’ve slightly reconfigured the layout of the dining room, including a modern walnut-and-leather banquette along the north wall of the dining room. You’ll have to drop in to see exactly how it all comes together.
One of the things we love to do is to provide you with a shared dining experience. Incanto 2010 nudges you more in this direction in several ways: In addition to our ever-popular Whole Pig Dining and Leg of Beast Dining, we’ve added a new shared entrée: Ham in Hay. This is a whole ham, roasted in a crust of salt and fresh alfalfa hay, meant to be shared among eight to ten people. Please visit Information for more details about booking one of these dinners.
You’ll find more opportunities for sharing on our regular menu as well: the Boccalone antipasto platter is now offered in three sizes for any occasion: Piglet (for one), Sow (for two), and Boar (for three or four persons). All of our pastas and risotti are now available in small and entrée sizes, also perfect for sharing in a multi-course dinner.
We’ve added two new tables in our front dining room that are perfect for a party of 8-10 persons to share one of our Legs (beef or pork). On those occasions when we don’t have these tables reserved for a large group, they will serve as a communal table, at which you will break bread shoulder-to-shoulder with your neighbors. Many of my fondest Italian dining memories took place at just such a table. We wanted to offer you the opportunity to create your own memories, in which dining can bring some unexpected and wonderful surprises.
Odds and Ends
New in the wine bar is a reclaimed slate chalkboard for “Odds & Ends”. For those of you who like to sit at the counter, you’ll have a front-row access to those dishes that, typically for availability reasons, don’t make it onto Incanto’s printed menu. We might only have three orders of something, so up it goes on the chalkboard. Order it while it’s still there. Tonight, for example we have “Head & Shoulders” and “Chilli & Bones”.
While we’re in the wine bar, we should also mention that we have also refined and extended Incanto’s beverage program. In keeping with Incanto’s mission of showcasing the best in high-quality Italian wines across Italy, we have introduced a new featured bottle program that will enable us to delve more deeply into some of the hidden corners of Italy’s expansive wine-producing regions. Our bound bottle list will continue to present the classics from Rome to points North. The “Featured Bottle” list will be accessible – printed alongside the wines by the glass, not in the leather-bound list – and will showcase a group of wines centered around a particular region or related theme. This abbreviated list will change every four to six weeks, while the bound list will change less frequently.
We are also pleased to open a window upon another current trend in Italy: artisan beermaking. In the past few years, the quality of beermaking in Italy has risen to a world-class level. Like Italian wines, these beers go great with food. Definitely worth a try.
The most important refinements may actually reside in the smallest details, which I haven’t mentioned here. It’s time for me to head down to the dining room – and perhaps it’s best that you discover them for yourselves. Suffice to say that for the past few years, we’ve been listening to you, saving up ideas, and preparing for this moment. We hope you like the new Incanto and we hope to see you soon. Wishing you a healthy and prosperous 2010, from all of us at Incanto.
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