SPQR - San Francisco

1911 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA
(Pacific Heights/Fillmore District: Between Bush & Pine St.)

SPQR is the Latin acronym for Senatus Populusque Romanus ("The Senate and People of Rome"). The restaurant is tucked in the Fillmore District and occupies a quaint and small space. You can't take reservations, so come early and put your name down. Then, shop at the nearby stores while you wait. (We came around 6pm and had to wait 45 minutes. By 8:00pm, the wait was almost 2 hours).

SPQR features comfort food-style plates, specializing in Roman Italian cuisine. They offer 3 antipasti for $21 or 1 for $8 each. But we ordered 2 antipasti dishes, saving our appetite for the mains. Like their sister restaurant A16, SPQR uses organic and seasonal ingredients. While we were lunching at A16, the waitress informed us that the pasta at SPQR is FRESHLY DRIED PASTA. Yes, I meant what I just typed and it seems as though it is an oxymoron. Every night they make the pasta for the next day, using a process that makes the pasta like play-doh. Hence, the FRESHLY DRIED PASTA. Potatoes with pancetta, fried chiles and pecorino (8)
This is one of the BEST dishes I've ever had. It was just so simple yet amazingly tasty! I just could not get enough of these perfectly roasted potatoes that had a hint of lemon juice, which was the hook that drew me into this dish. The pancetta and pecorino also added flavor to the potatoes. However, the chiles were pretty mild as I couldn't taste any spiciness really. Nonetheless, I continuously commented at how wonderfully delicious this dish was - even til the last bite, even til the end of the meal.

House-made pork sausage with braised fennel (8) In all honesty, for some reason, I can't really remember much about this dish. I do remember it being a good dish but not outstanding. I remembered that I liked it better than the fried meatball dish. I have to start taking notes when I go out to eat...

Fried beef meatballs, dandelion greens, & chiles w/ borlotti bean bruschetta (15)
This is one of the few dishes that we didn't enjoy as much as the others. For some reason, I was thinking more of a traditional meatball with a red sauce. I felt that the frying took away from the flavor of the meatball. Didn't really enjoy the borlotti bean bruschetta which was like mexican refried beans. This dish wasn't a bad dish, but it just wasn't on par with the rest of the dishes that we had that night.

Spaghetti Amatriciana- Guanciale, tomatoes, red onions, pecorino & chiles (14)
So this is what freshly dried pasta tastes like. At SPQR, you choose the sauce preparation and then you have the choice of either spaghetti or rigatoni. Eating freshly made pasta is so different from eating dried pasta. It's all about the texture of the pasta. The dish was so simple yet so satisfying and delicious.

Almond-milk granita with espresso crema (7.5)
After a meal that was a tad on the heavy side, we perused the menu for a dessert that would be light and not too rich. My eyes immediately gravitated to the almond milk granita. This dessert was like eating almond milk flavored snow that had just fallen from the sky. The espresso crema added an interesting flavor that contrasted the almond milk, giving the dessert an added depth to it.

Imagine it being 75 B.C. and the citizens of Rome are sitting at the steps of St. Peter's Square. These are the types of dishes I imagine them eating. SPQR is not a restaurant that is subtle or delicate in their seasoning of their dishes. This place is all about flavor. The Senate, the People of Rome and We have spoken and We all agree that SPQR is definitely worth a visit and to be enjoyed by All. But don't go there hungry because the wait is not a short one.

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