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Review of Acquerello

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Ranked #217 of 5,737 Restaurants in San Francisco
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $95 - $185
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings, Romantic, Special occasions
Dining options: Late Night, Dinner, Reservations
Dining style: Fine Dining
Neighborhood: Nob Hill
Cross street: Polk
Transit: Van Ness Avenue is serviced by Muni bus lines 42,47,and 49. California Street. is serviced by the California Cable Car line. Sacramento Street. is serviced by Muni bus line 1. Polk Street. is serviced by Muni bus line 19.
Description: Acquerello, named for its original watercolors, envelops guests in a warm and gracious atmosphere the moment they arrive. "At Acquerello, we believe that refined luxury is always in style. Our desire is to provide our guests an experience of classic and contemporary Italian tastes in an elegant dining atmosphere." The 40 seat dining room has an upscale and quiet ambiance. The room, designed by John Wheatman, highlights the former chapel, graced with arches and a rustic wood-beamed vaulted ceiling, with warm Mediterranean colors of gold and terracotta. Acquerello's contemporary approach to Italain cuisine combines the freshest ingredients available, an innovative approach to classic Italian flavors, and modern techniques. Guests can design their own three, four or five course dinner with the Prix Fixe Menus or choose to enjoy the preset chef's Seasonal Tasting Menu. Acquerello,in its more than 25 years in operation, has received countless accolades and awards, including a Michelin star in the first-ever 2007 Bay Area guide, two Michelin Stars in 2015, and a Wine Spectator Grand Award for the wine list continuously since 2012.
Sao Paulo, SP
Level 6 Contributor
233 reviews
115 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 125 helpful votes
Reviewed February 15, 2014

We opted for the tasting menu.
The dishes are delicious and perfect harmomização of flavors and textures. We were met by Marco (an Italian who had lived in Brazil) he was very attentive and at the end of dinner decided to samba for us ..... lol.
Not a cheap restaurant, but certainly worth the experience.

  • Visited March 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank MarcosCaseiro
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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284 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
San Francisco, California
Level 6 Contributor
128 reviews
50 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 123 helpful votes
“They Have Perfected the ART of Food Presentation”
Reviewed January 30, 2014

Acquerello has perfected the ART of food presentation... and I don't just mean presentation in the aesthetic sense.

Here, they don't just serve the food, they literally present each dish as if offering you a precious, exotic gift, describing in great detail the gastronomical delight you're about to receive, building anticipation for the first savory bite.

My husband and I dine out quite a bit, but it's not very often that I am compelled to write restaurant reviews. It's true that minor inconveniences trigger immediate complaint, but often only extraordinarily amazing experiences will warrant public praise.

While I rate the food a 4.5 (details provided below), the extra care the staff took in ensuring an unforgettable dining experience was just OUT OF THIS WORLD. There were so many touches that were above and beyond what you would expect, that I'm almost convinced the owners are super fussy themselves.

A few details of superb service included:
- pulling out our TABLE to so we could easily slip into our seats (we were sat at the corner built-in banquet area -- best for quiet privacy and view!)
- placing a foot stool by the ladies' chair to stash purses (I noticed a few of these at the nearby tables)
- offering my husband a DARK napkin so as not to get white lint on his black trousers
- 3 sommeliers on hand to serve a 45-seat restaurant... WOW!

As soon as we were seated, we were welcomed with two aperitifs. Next arrived the amuse bouche consisting of two mini-brioche stuffed with tuna.

Within seconds of polishing off our aperitifs, the sommelier came by to pour us two glasses of sparkling Rose to help us celebrate.

On to the food...

You have the option of selecting a 3, 4, or 5-course meal a la carte from the menu, or the chef's 5-course tasting menu.

My husband, Jack and I both opted for the 4-course a la carte meal, initially intended for desert to be the 4th course. Being a novice wine enthusiast, we left the wine pairing to the expert selection of the sommelier, Gianpaolo.

Jack had:
- Tender greens with hidden ricotta, shaved radishes and baby beets paired with a grassy Sauvignon Blanc (can't remember vintner)
- Seared breast of duck with beets, roasted turnips, strawberries and balsamico di ginepro paired with La Gerla Rosso di Montalcino
- selection of the hard cheeses (all cow's milk) served with honeyed walnuts, fig jam, and sweet fennel

I had:
- Wine-picked sardines and piquillo peppers with sultana sauce paired with a Chardonnay/Sauv Blanc blend --- highly recommended! It was just the right amount of saltiness, sturdy texture for a sardine
- Pasta with foie gras, black truffles and Marsala paired with a sweet Torcolato -- the first bite was just HEAVENLY.... but as I got deeper into the dish, I wished that there was just a tad less sauce, and a tad less sweetness. Side note, they gave my husband a small taste on a separate bowl. How thoughtful!
- Butter-poached lobster tail, stuffed calamari and crusted mussels -- calamari and mussels were in bite-sized portions and perfectly cooked (not chewy as it often is in other places), lobster was a tad dry (perhaps I should have asked for lemon butter?) but nonetheless delicious... sommelier selected a slightly acidic Trebbiano di Soave
- Cheese plate - pungent goat, creamy goat, and salty hard cow with the same condiments as Jack

We were so full after the cheese course that we opted out of desert, and instead each had a PIECE of truffle with a shot of espresso.

A couple of other observances:
- No novice servers here. The staff all exhibited pride of "ownership" of the place, demonstrating impressive knowledge of the menu items
- They have a "no under 8 years old" rule for kids... awesome if you're looking for a quiet, romantic date!

Overall, Acquerello is a wonderful place to celebrate with food and wine, and be pampered in style. The total bill is not for the faint of heart, as ours was the equivalent of a round-trip ticket to Hawaii.

However... if you are ever faced with a choice between a pair of expensive shoes and a dinner at Acquerello, definitely opt for the latter.

  • Visited February 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2 Thank XtinaDunham
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Louisville, KY
Level 6 Contributor
112 reviews
32 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 89 helpful votes
“one of the best”
Reviewed January 20, 2014

Great meal in a quiet location. Romantic, italian and expensive but deserving of the discrete hype. Outstanding courses throughout with an excellent wine-list. Definitely formal, but disagree with any concerns that is is overdone, in any way. Maitre d' and sommelier went out of their way, repeatedly, to make it a fun, enjoyable, memorable experience.

  • Visited January 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank MFHLouisville_KY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Palo Alto, California
Level 6 Contributor
139 reviews
70 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“Just misses”
Reviewed January 19, 2014

Our experience at this restaurant was very pleasant, with many lovely touches. The waiter considerately asked if I'd prefer a black napkin instead of white for my black outfit. The sommelier was excellent, very knowledgeable.
We each selected four different courses. The beets with mascarpone was good, as was the duck and squab filled pasta. The cuttlefish, however, had so much chili, it was too hot to enjoy. We could not catch the waiter's eye to bring it to his attention.
The veal loin was elegant. And there was a fine selection of Italian cheeses. The desserts were visual and taste treats.
Much was enjoyable, but the wait staff could have been more attentive and the chef more sensitive.

  • Visited January 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank yakherd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Farnham, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
161 reviews
50 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 91 helpful votes
“Nice, but very expensive”
Reviewed January 19, 2014

We ate here having seen a good review in Trip Advisor. Its a plush upmarket restaurant and we needed to book way in advance. We had to wait for our table which seemed unnecessary as we had arrived exactly on time, and as it turned out the table was already free. The atmosphere was plush and decor of ochre and terracotta coloured walls initially welcoming, but we found the lighting rather too low in the long run. The menu was very tempting, and the waiters very careful to ask about any food allergies, and make suggestions to suit. The food was served very quickly and courses whipped away as soon as they were finished. We were in and out in an hour and a half and I felt we were being rushed so that they could get in another sitting although this was not said at the outset. The food was excellent however and deserved its good reviews. The wine list was way over priced however and the guide line prices for eating I had read on Trip Advisor were way out and it cost almost twice as much as expected.

  • Visited December 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank dcberry2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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