Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

If you blink you will miss it, and if you are in San Francisco, you don’t want to miss this gem snuggled away in one of San Francisco’s finest neighborhoods. The charming restaurant called Sociale is quaintly tucked away down a millefleur-lined walkway off high-brow Sacramento Street in Presidio Heights.

Don’t be surprised if you are seated next to a famous San Franciscan, after all, it is one of their favorite little dining hideaways. As for the menu, that will also surprise you. Tia, the executive chef and chef-de-force behind the menu, spoke to us about her inspiration and what she does to keep it fresh in a city with a new restaurant opens up every week.

“I am deeply influenced by the regional areas in Northern Italy, and I am always searching for the freshest products from local farms here in the Bay Area. There are so many dishes I want to create, so we have weekly tasting menus and every month the menu changes. It keeps me on my toes and the menu interesting.

“I’ll bring back popular items like fried olives, braised duck—of course, but change is good. I like to do specials that are geared towards sharing. We are an Italian restaurant and sharing feels more Italian than Californian. Plus, I love food that allows the wait staff to interact with the guests—many of our dishes can be presented at the table and carved.”

We asked her what she wanted her guest to remember about their dining experience and she said, “We are a place where friends and neighbors can gather socially—hence the name! We focus on providing understated, elegant service and food. We take pride in our work and I trust that our guests will remember the fantastic meal they shared with us here.”

Tia is a true Diva; while she is not creating new menus, as she has been doing for the past four and a half years, she is raising her daughter.

We also had a chance to meet David, the other owner of Sociale. The story behind the restaurant is fascinating, and David took some time to share it with us:

“So, we opened September 4th, 2001. We wanted to create a neighborhood dining spot by bringing great Italian food to a cozy destination. We are a place where people could be with friends and walk to a gathering place with their neighbors. I wanted to create a restaurant that had a warm atmosphere with great, simple fare.

“Then Sept. 11th happened, and we did become that haven—away from the news, while surrounded by great people and delicious food.

“My favorite thing to do is to be around good friends, great food and great wine. And I was in the dot.com world and I want to do something more “homey.” I wanted to do something more like hosting dinner parties, it seemed like a really good fit for me.

“The truth is, people have to seek us out, we are a tiny place on a big street. We have a cute dining room and casual staff. And, I really want to WOW people, and in this neighborhood, that can be hard! But we do.”

So, if you happen to stumble onto 3665 Sacramento Street, say “Hi” to Tia and David, make sure to get a cozy table in the corner, order a glass of Italian wine and the fried olives. With dishes like asparagus chittarra and oven roasted bronzino, your search for Sociale will be well worth it.

Sociale Caffe and Wine Bar

3665 Sacramento Street

Tel: 415.921.3200

www.caffesociale.com

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