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“A great M starred restauant in one of America's great food cities”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Chiaroscuro - CLOSED

Chiaroscuro
Price range: $31 - $40
Cuisines: Italian, Mediterranean
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Special occasions, Business meetings
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Neighborhood: Financial District
Cross street: Montgomery St
Palos Verdes Estates, California
Level Contributor
120 reviews
60 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 140 helpful votes
“A great M starred restauant in one of America's great food cities”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 4, 2013

Chiaroscuro was recommended to us several years ago by the concierge at Le Meridian. Since then we have dined there five or six times and I've held one company event for 12 people there a couple of years ago. We have never been disappointed. Chiaroscuro is consistently worthy of its stars. The tastes are sometimes subtle, sometimes bold, but always superbly tasteful , creative and beautifully presented. For us the portions are just right. Since the last time we were here they have gone to a fix prix format with 3, 4, and 5 course choices. At first we had some negative feelings about the change but by the end of the meal thought it was just right. We both had the three course and left the restaurant well satisfied - full but not uncomfortably stuffed and with big smiles.

For us, the service level is just fine - attentive and responsive but not constantly hovering. My wife literally dreams about their imported buffalo mozzarella. But alas, they only serve it for lunch. Hearing how disappointed she was they prepared a special (and really delicious and creative) caprese salad for her and made it part of her 3 course meal. A nice and appreciated touch. We have dined at Michelin starred restaurants all over the world and are frequent visitors to San Francisco. Chiaroscuro is one of our consistent must dine spots when we come to San Francisco

  • Visited July 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank noclvrname
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

92 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    41
    30
    10
    9
    2
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
43 reviews
17 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“Flashback to Italy”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 3, 2013

My husband and I visited Rome late last year, where we got a recommendation for this place from one of the locals. We finally got to try this place tonight, and I have to say that the food is the closest in quality and flavor to what we had in Italy--a million times better than anything in nearby North Beach!

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Jen C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco Bay Area
Level Contributor
163 reviews
63 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“Food lacking, potentially great service (but spotty)”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 29, 2013

The sommelier and front of house generally very skilled and give an impression that you are in important guest. This fell apart toward the end of our meal when a wine was not delivered until second request, then brought to the wrong person...waiter ended up coming this wine glass, but still was shabby service. Long wait for the check. Water went unfilled. Never checked on how we liked the dishes. Seemed like waiter disappeared after dessert was served and we had to ask sommelier to send him over with the check. We were there 3 hours, not rushing in and out, but the pacing of waiter was lacking.

Food was not very flavorful. Soft shell crab appetizer greasy, over battered with tempura, and not much flavor to be found. Pasta trio had good flavors in two out of three varieties, however was basically room temperature and should have been much warmer. Seems like it sat around a while. Some pasta was clumped up rather than individual strands, also kind of disappointing for a supposedly top caliber pasta chef.
Dessert of chocolate souffle was not at all souffle-like. It was more like a small chocolate cake, kind of dry. The center was not even warm/moist like a molten cake. It certainly had no resemblance to a real souffle. This dessert was pretty disappointing overall..and meanwhile it was their most expensive dessert and also listed as "allow 18 minutes" on the menu.

Wine list is fairly priced and well picked, although small. Sommelier can guide you to good choices.

Go for the special service, hope you avoid the rough spots, and don't expect too much from the food. Some reviewers on this site may have low standards.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank ryans69
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Suisun City, California
Level Contributor
18 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Elegant Italian Dinner in SF”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 8, 2013

The feel of a truly great family restaurant ... Warm but elegant, attentive but not fawning service, and incredibly knowledgeable staff but super helpful and friendly without a hint of condescension.

Oh, the food = fabulous ... Personal highlight: a veal chop that made believe , after a long unhappy series of average, that veal chops can be magnificent.

Pricey ... If you compare it to the top-tier dining, however, it feels comfortably fair .... Figure $75 to $100 per person total - depending on wine. Note: the one free corkage with one bottle purchased offers a great experience. The sommelier rocks and they'll handle your bottle elegantly!

One note: my wife and some friends had lunch there a few weeks after our fabulous dinner and it was only so-so. I downgraded them from 5-stars to 4-stars based on her experience. Dinner was a five-star experience and it wouldn't be a huge shocker if the lunch crew wasn't quite as together as dinner -- Charoscuro truly feels like a dinner house!

  • Visited March 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank dsloves
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lawrence, Kansas
1 review
“Un esperienza gastronomica”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 6, 2013

Most expensive meal of my life, but definitely 'worth it'. It was a one of a kind experience. Did i mention, six course meal? If vintage wine and Amuse-bouche is your thing, it would be worthy of checking out! They are particularly good at articulating the intricacies of each course...

  • Visited March 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank mrjd26
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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