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Acquerello: sensational Northern Italian fine dining in a dreamy milieu

Up the street from my old apartment in Nob Hill, a treasure awaits. Contrarily, the area surrounding the restaurant is rather unassuming. However, once you enter the doors of Acquerello, the elegance sets in. It’s a sophisticated atmosphere that serves Northern Italian cuisine with white glove service and top shelf quality. Also, the beautiful potted flowers that brighten the restaurants foyer change seasonally.

The exapansive, dark wood wine room at Acquerello with hundreds of bottles of wine from floor to ceiling
Their extensive wine cellar
The namesake Acquerello sign at the entrance of the restaurant above a beautiful bed of potted fresh flowers
Gorgeous fresh flowers at the entrance during December
The empty dining room at Acquerello decorated for New Years Eve
The main dining room decorated for New Years Eve

A little bit of history about Acquerello

Previously, 1722 Sacramento Street was a chapel. Now, it’s a space where you can delight in Michellin starred culinary beneath vaulted wood-beam ceilings. For over thirty years now, Acquerello has served Northern Italian delicacies to discerning diners in refined style.

Acquerello is owned by Chef Suzette Gresham and Giancarlo Paterlini. They’re both celebrated for their expertise in “cuisine, wine and service.” I can attest that what they’ve created is an exemplary example of service, divine culinary and exquisite wine pairings.

I had the pleasure of meeting both Giancarlo and Chef Gresham on my first visit to Acquerello. Firstly, it’s admirable the level of pride and care they take in what they do. Further, it’s commendable how they have kept their prices more reasonable than restaurants of similar class.

The Food and Menu at Acquerello

In recent months, I returned to Acquerello to experience their Prix Fixe Menu and it did not disappoint. Basically, each category of the Prix Fixe menu has four options you can choose from. If you are dining with others, it’s always a nice idea to order different things from each category and share.

The Prix Fixe menu set on beautiful dinnerware
Amuse Bouche – Chef’s surprises
Carrot and Ginger Terrine

The meal began with a few Amuse Bouche (ah-mooze boosh) – a few small chef’s surprises. Straightaway, our server recommended a specific order to eat them in, one that would be the most palettable.

Gorgeous house made butter
Bread service
Ridged pasta, black truffle, Marsala

I have to note, that the butter at Acquerello is simply divine. I also like that they serve it with very high quality sea salt to really add extra flavor.

For our second course, I chose the ridged pasta with Black Truffle and Marsala (because, I’ll never pass up anything with Truffle or Marsala). My husband had the Black Truffle Risotto with 36 month old aged Parmesan and we, of course, shared both dishes.

Black Truffle Risotto
Pepper crusted Bluefin Tuna
Williamette Valley Lamb Saddle

For mains, we chose the Pepper crusted Bluefin Tuna, which was exceptional and the Lamb.

Don’t Skip Dessert

Burnt Honey Cake with Apple Gelato
Stunning work from the pastry chef
From the candy cart

Kudos to the pastry Chef Theron Marrs for the creative, vibrant and delicious desserts. Unquestionably, both meals I’ve been fortunate to experience at Acquerello have been delicious and the desserts have always been a delight – visually and for your taste buds.

The beautiful Mignardise cart
An assortment of unique Mignardise items to round out the meal
Splurged on a coffee to round out the meal with the Mignardise

If you’re no stranger to the fine dining world, then you’ve likely seen a Mignardise (min-yard-EEZE) cart or two before. Otherwise, a Mignardise cart is rolled over to your table to round out a meal. Obviously, every restaurant is different, but there is usually an assortment of small bite desserts and candies to pick from. Typically, you’ll be exceptionally stuffed by this point. Thankfully, most of these restaurants allow you to take your Mignardise selections to go if you wish.

Tip: The Prix Fixe menu is four courses with the option add on a caviar and/or cheese course. It’s $165 per person, which is a great value for a two Michellin Star restaurant. A 20% service charge and 4% surcharge for San Francisco employee mandates will be added to your final bill. To add wine pairings, it is an additional $95.00 per person.

Acquerello on New Years Eve

If you’re headed to San Francisco for New Year’s Eve and you’re in the mood for a swanky soiree, Acquerello may be an excellent option for you.

While you typically pay a premium to celebrate New Years Eve anywhere, fine dining is certainly no exception. Albeit, one of the many things there is to praise about Acquerello is the quality of the food and experience sans the excessive price gauging you might experience at similar restaurants.

Chefs surprises at Acquerello New Years Eve tasting
Some “chefs surprises” – amuse bouche to start with
Complimentary bread and house made butter at Acquerello
Bread with house made butter
an ornate white dish with bright yellow vinaigrette inside and lobster crudo, set in the forefront of wine glasses
Lobster Crudo with citrus vinaigrette, avocado, Serrano chili and carnaroli rice

New Years Eve was my first experience dining at Acquerello. Needless to say, it left me completely swept off my feet.

Everything, from the lighting, to the tasteful decor, to the fresh cut blooms placed on the table was thoughtful and hit the mark.

As with most dining experiences, our server really contributed to us having a spectacular experience. He really helped create a magical, seamless event certainly worthy of at least the two Michellin stars its been awarded.

Service, Atmosphere, Experience

A big part of fine dining experiences are what I like to call the ‘culinary theater’ you experience. I would classify Acquerello as a classic Michellin starred fine dining experience. The service is polished. There is a bit of a regal air about the service and overall experience.

If you are having a dish that is topped with truffles, the owner Giancarlo himself and another member of the staff bring out the truffles in an ornate wooden box and then it is dramatically shaven on your entrée.

The dining room is on the dimly lit side and the tables are spaced out considerably, so, generally, it’s a restaurant you will find many couples celebrating an occasion.

Know Before You Go

Acquerello can accommodate parties up to 16 guests for private dining in their gold room. This requires an $150 event fee which includes a wine reception, floral arrangements, printed menus and coordination.

You will definitely want to make reservations to dine at Acquerello. You can do so by calling 415-567-5432 or emailing info@acquerellosf.com. Otherwise, you can always book your reservation on Tock, which is used by many similar restaurants. You will need to pay a $200 deposit at the time of booking your reservation that will go towards your total bill.

Acquerello offers a vegetarian friendly menu called ‘A Tasting of Vegetables.’ There is also a seasonal menu that changes periodically.

Have you been to Acquerello? What did you think? If you have any questions about dining here, please drop them in the comments below!

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Travel Tips & Resources to Help You Plan an Epic Trip!

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Viator – most of the activities, tours and excursions I book for my trips are booked through Viator. Whether you’re seeking a guide for the day, a group tour, a cooking class, Viator has you covered!

Get Your Guide – this is another great marketplace to find tours, excursions and activities to book for your upcoming trip.

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