If you have ever wondered where, in this city of hipsters and hippies, are the WASPs, look no further. They're at the Presidio Social Club, a new(ish) restaurant in the beautifully renovated former officers' club in the Presidio. Enter the dining room and behold! You're at the country club. Men in blue button downs neatly tucked into pressed khakis, women wearing pearl earrings and headbands, blonde children still dressed in their school uniforms. Never in San Francisco have I seen so many East Coast-style WASPs in one place. It comes as no surprise that gin is featured prominently on the cocktail menu. While their affinity for gin is well documented (see Cheever, John), WASPs are not known for their culinary sense of adventure, and the dinner menu focuses on updated comfort food—a sloppy joe made from Kobe beef brisket, white cheddar mac and cheese, chicken pot pie on Tuesdays. The food at Presidio Social Club isn't bad. It's not especially great, either. The fried okra, a hard dish to pull off above the Mason-Dixon line, is perfect, but it feels a little exotic on a menu so fixated on American classics. The night I went we were running late for an event at the Palace of Fine Arts and so didn't get to try what looked like the best thing on the menu: cupcakes made to order, brought to your table with a side of frosting for you to apply yourself. The next time I feel the need to observe the endangered WASP in its restored native habitat, I'll go back to Presidio Social Club and try the cupcakes.
The T‑line may have brought Muni to a crashing halt, but it's done a lot for Dogpatch, and not just its real estate values. Restaurants, cafes, and garden stores have popped up along the Third Street corridor in anticipation of Muni-enabled consumers flocking to the neighborhood. Basing one's business plan on the viability of Muni moving anyone anywhere seems unwise. Basing one's business plan on serving thin crust pizza in a tiny space on an unlikely street corner, however, is a tried-and-true formula in San Francisco (see: Pizzetta 211). The aptly-named Piccino occupies such a corner at 22nd Street and Tennessee. Piccino is little. It has a small menu. It serves small plates of nibbles between lunch and dinner. In the morning you can find Blue Bottle coffee and fresh-baked pastries; at lunch pizza and panini take precedence; dinner (only on select nights) builds on the lunch menu. I haven't experienced breakfast and lunch, but at dinner recently I sampled three of the five pizzas on offer, plus dessert. By sampled I mean split with one other person. Like everything else at Piccino, the pizzas aren't big. Which isn't bad, because it means you can easily order three for two people and not feel too gluttonish or stuffed. The crust is right-on—a perfect combination of crisp and chewy. The toppings are a little less exciting. The night I was there, they had a margherita, napoletano, pepperone, bianco, and a special involving lemon zest and pine nuts. The tomato sauce on the pepperone was a little too acidic for me, and the bianco was a little bland. The real stand-out flavors were on the special, particularly the lemon zest. The pizza is good; we didn't leave any leftovers. Piccino is a great neighborhood restaurant. If I lived in Dogpatch, I would be their most loyal customer. Too bad I live in Cole Valley. This is the Golden Age of Pizza in the Bay Area. With the likes of Pizzette, Pizzeria Delfina, Little Star, and Pizzaiolo around, it's not enough to be good if you want to pull people in from out of the neighborhood. While I'm willing to brave the Bay Bridge for Pizzaiolo, or the Richmond fog for Pizzette, Piccino isn't quite compelling enough for the trek to Dogpatch.
Iceman's going for the hard-deck. Let's nail him, Goose! Attention: Everyone should turn, burn and check out Maverick, the little restaurant near the corner of 17th and Mission. Sure, it seems like it might be below your personal hard-deck; it looks a little too Blondie's, maybe a little too Limon. But believe me, any place that serves fresh peppers with a garnish of ancho chiles is a danger zone well worth taking a highway to, even if that highway isn't really a highway. Seriously: Call the ball. Order the steak. And the ribs. The stone fruit salad will be a bogey on your tail for days afterward. Where's MiG one? He's at Maverick. Affirmative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full. Because the pattern just ate at Maverick.