Che Fico, Che Fico, Che Fico. If you’ve haven’t heard about San Francisco’s hottest restaurant (and its celebrity following), then you’ve been living beneath a rock and it’s time to dig out of your hole and get some sustenance.
You could queue up at the Divisadero Street resto before it opens at 5:30pm if you hope to snag a table without a reservation. Or, you could swing into the just-opened Che Fico Alimentari downstairs where, even if there’s not a table at the ready, you could grab some handmade pasta, salumi, and Sicilian wine to go.
If you’ve visited this address in recent history then you remember Theorita—the Che Fico team’s modish, bright green diner starring burgers and pies; but with a step inside the newly sexed up Roman-style wine bar, you might wonder why they didn’t go this route this before.
DLC-ID’s Jon de la Cruz was once again tapped to manage the design, infusing this new Italian-style grocery-slash-eatery with warmth—in the form of velvet seating roughly the same hue as soppressata, rich wood floors and furnishings, and green plants—and humor (try not to lick the meat-patterned wallpaper).
“In terms of the space, we really wanted to lean on the natural intimacy of it, the cave-like feel,” says chef/partner David Nayfeld. “We felt it was very important to keep the feel that you’re in a bit of a hideaway.”
For sure we could hide out in here for hours ordering up plate after plate of so many tasty snacks, because unlike the more formal restaurant upstairs, Che Fico Alimentari channels Italian wine bar vibes with a focus on a variety of meats, cheeses, breads, marinated antipasti, and a few pasta dishes all designed for grazing…and to pair well with vino—there are more than 200 wines here, largely from Piedmont, Tuscany, and Sicily, curated by wine director Francesca Maniace. It’s how Nayfeld and chef de cuisine Evan Allumbaugh enjoyed eating during their travels in Italy.
And if you’ve been upstairs, you know the salumi is the real deal; Alimentari capitalizes on the crave-worthiness. “By the nature of Che Fico’s menu, we weren’t tapping into the full potential of our salumeria upstairs, so it made perfect sense for us to showcase it this way,” he says.
Be sure to take some to go, and pocket a chunk of cheese while you’re at it. The shelves are lined with all the makings of an artful Italian picnic—including baker/partner Angela Pinkerton’s fresh breads, olive oils, dry pastas, and more.
Inside Che Fico Alimentari
Dimly lit, romantic vibes reign in the redesigned space, now channeling a Roman wine bar with plush banquettes, red walls, rich wood, and brassy accents.
The wallpaper game at Alimentari is as strong as it is upstairs at Che Fico: These artfully arranged pork products will make mouths water.
Once laden with pies and pastries, the front counter is stocked with a selection of cheeses, salumi, and fresh-baked loaves to take home.
Pinkerton’s focaccia is a stunner: light, fluffy, and served with whipped, creamy mascarpone and a floater of Ligurian olive oil.
The cheese menu is vast. Decide between mozzarella served four ways (with prosciutto, anchovies, etc.), two burrata dishes, three selections of cheese from America, and five from Italy. The sheep’s milk Pecorino Fiore Sardo is nutty, lightly smoky, and pretty happy about a spoonful of fig jam.
Holy mother of burrata. Che Fico Alimentari serves two takes on the creamy cheese: one with heaps of finely shaved truffles (pictured), and another with mounds of Passmore Ranch caviar.
There are green things in the form of a light little gem salad; braised artichokes; and these heartwarming fava beans in a healthy reduction of sautéed guanciale and spring onions. The team discovered this dish during an R&D trip to Italy and knew they needed to recreate it.
Twirls of thick, chewy bucatini noodles are elevated by a generous sprinkling of Pecorino Romano and black pepper for a solid cacio e pepe.
The housemade lasagna will stop you in your tracks thanks to layers of finely chopped Star Route Farms, green pasta, ricotta from Double Dairy, and a nicely broiled cheesy top.
If you’re craving a real entree, Che Fico Alimentari currently offers four heftier mains, including braised short rib, suckling pig, and this swordfish a la Siciliana in a sauce of roasted tomatoes, golden raisins, salty capers, and walnuts.
Save room for dessert because pastry goddess Pinkerton is still doing the sweet. In addition to gelato and sorbet, desserts include these airy profiteroles sandwiched around a scoop of hazelnut gelato and lemon cream with crumbles of brittle and a pour of warm chocolate sauce.
// Che Fico Alimentari, 834 Divisadero St. (NoPa), cheficoalimentari.com
This post was originally written and photographed by me for 7×7 and can be viewed here.
Curious about the original Che Fico? Catch the inside scoop on that spot here.