In a space that housed Julia’s and Winterland, both which received wide culinary acclaim yet had extremely rocky soap-opera like pasts, it was a delight to dine at Cassis, hopefully the last reincarnation at the corner of Sutter & Steiner.
The charming co-owners, Jerome and Stephane Meloni, had me at “Bonjour,” (although the grand-opening complimentary Blanc Cassis cocktail, a white wine cocktail mixed with crème de cassis liqueur, certainly didn’t hurt matters!)
The Meloni brothers grew up with an appreciation for good food and wine from their Italian father and French mother, and share more than 20 years of combined food and hospitality experience. Before opening Cassis, they previously owned and operated two restaurants in Antibes, France.
Here in San Francisco, they look forward to sharing with their guests the authentic home cooking inspired by their childhood in the South of France. (It was adorable to see Manager Jerome’s eyes light up when he recommended the Tuna Tartare and then launched into a story about how he used to go fishing with his father “who caught one this big,” or when Chef Stephane came out of the kitchen enthusiastically regaling us with all the ideas he had for upcoming menus.)
Cassis offers traditional bistro food from the South of France, including both French and Italian-inspired dishes from the owners’ hometown of Nice. The menu features regional dishes such as a decadent Duck Confit, Pissaladière – the traditional Niçoise onion tart (and one ot the best I’ve ever had) and a hearty Daube Niçoise (beef stew cooked with red wine and herbs), along with a variety of pasta dishes and Neapolitan-style thin crust pizza. (I definitely am going to try the brick-oven baked lasagne or rigatoni casserole next time.)
I’m not sure if the pizza tasted extra-specially good because of the freshness of the ingredients on the thin, blistered crust or because it’s called ” La Pizza!” And no matter what entree you order, be sure and beg for a side of the ethereal zucchini gratin.
This unpretentious yet stylish bistro is exactly what Pac Heights was needing, and I bet that their Tarte Tatin, alone, is all that is needed to break the corner’s curse.
Cassis serves dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m, and Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (closed on Mondays). Lunch service and outdoor sidewalk seating is expected to be added in the near future.
Cassis is located at 2101 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California 94115.
For more information, please visit www.RestaurantCassis.com.