I love the Italian-American culture in San Francisco. There’s something very real, very proudly Italiano about this city’s Italian faction. There’s no better place to experience the old-school than at Kuleto’s– a veritable institution to Italian immigrants, homemade salumi and Vino Italiano.
I sat at the bar with a kitchen view and watched the expert frenetic movements of Kuleto’s grill masters, and I highly recommend these seats. Upon inspection of the wine list, I was super impressed. Clearly wine director Ron Siragusa has a passion for geeky Italian wine. He had a lovely, hard-to-find bottle of Chambave Muscat from La Crotta di Vegneron in Vallée d’ Aoste at under $50/ bottle. The list is extensive, running the gamut from Piemonte to Sicilia.
Instead of wine, I opted for a classic Italian cocktail- the Negroni. At Kuleto’s this cocktail is perfumed by the use of Hendrick’s gin. I really loved the play between the bitter Campari and the super-aromatic spirit.
We sampled the house-made head cheese, a gelatinous delight dotted with carrots and herbs, and full of delectable pork meat. Delicious with the accompanied frisée, dressed simply with citrus and sea salt.
Another stellar item was the Little Gem Bibb Lettuce Salad. This was one of the most visually stunning salads I have ever seen- perfectly crisp garden vegetables layered painstakingly in a rainbow of colors. A pleasure to admire, and just plain delicious.
In the end Kuleto’s does not disappoint, with it’s charming dark wooden bar, open kitchen and gleeful, perky energy, this is a place to celebrate. The wine list is exciting and fresh, while the food is solidly comforting: Italian-American in all the best ways.
How better to celebrate the Italian culture in America than with a Negroni and bit of head cheese?