One (of many) of my great pleasures traveling in Italy is eating fresh sardines and anchovies along the coast, whether baked, brined or any other way. Thankfully, anchovies are plentiful — and often out of local waters — in the Bay Area. The anchovy, in particular, gets a bum rap as a too-salty pizza topping. That’s too bad, because it’s fantastically flavorful in the right preparation. Here are three places doing anchovies proud, with their own unique takes on one of the most healthy of fishes.
Moussy’s Basque Anchovies
Moussy’s (named after owner, Jean-luc Kayigire’s, father’s hometown in the Champagne region of France) is a welcoming basement bistro in Alliance Francaise, where you can drop in after French films or language classes (or just go straight there). With new chef, Nathan Ivry, the already charming space becomes a destination for comforting dinner bistro fare: burgers and frites, grilled prawns and salads (more details at The Perfect Spot). Ivry cooks a fine dish of Basque white anchovies ($8), flaky and bright, over avocado yogurt.
1345 Bush Street
Lafitte’s Anchovy Onion Tart
Open less than a month, Lafitte, with its picturesque Embarcadero waterside perch, is already getting a lot of buzz (see my Perfect Spot early review). Dissident Chef Russell Jackson, whose underground dinners have amassed a loyal following over the years, helms the free-form kitchen that only loosely adheres to a menu, which changes daily based not merely on freshness but inspiration. If you go with an open mind and give Jackson free reign, all kinds of goodness can happen, like an anchovy onion tart that pairs the sweetness of caramelized onions with the anchovy’s salty assets.
Pier 5, The Embarcadero
Ooh la la, Lafitte!
White Anchovies at La Salette in Sonoma
Next time you’re in Sonoma, consider La Salette, just off Sonoma’s idyllic town square, for a Portuguese feast (brunch, lunch or dinner). I’ve not found a restaurant quite like this elsewhere in the area. Paired with Spanish or Portuguese wines, order a platter laden with cheeses, Spanish hams, marinated octopus, blood sausage and the like (your choice of 3 items for $15, 5 for $24, 7 for $33). Don’t miss briny, impeccable white anchovies that taste as fresh as the sea. They also bake a mean plate of sardinhas assadas, flaky and drizzled with olive oil.
452 1st Street E, Suite H, Sonoma
Visit Virginia’s culinary itinerary site, www.theperfectspotsf.com.