The coast of the Bay Area is hardly like Sicily. Balmy breezes: no; sea salt-inflected air: doubt it; and sitting outside is rarely a joy when the sun goes down. However you only need a handful of loose puzzle pieces to bring a little Sicily into your life Bayside (or in any cooler clime).
Luna Blu, a Sicilian restaurant in the Bay-front hamlet of Tiburon, is a little slice of the Mediterranean just outside San Francisco. The ferry also goes there from downtown San Francisco. I had no idea that this small town had blossomed so much in the past couple of years. It is loads more fun, and has many fewer tourists, than Sausalito.
Chef Renzo’s involtini of swordfish brought be back to so many memories of eating fresh fish on some beach in Sicily (or anywhere on the Italian coast). He previously had a restaurant in Palo Alto. I also loved the fresh flavors of the blood oranges and fennel in the salad. Most Italians are somewhat negative about how to pair fennel with wine but I love how the licorice flavors (think Anise or Raki) lend themselves to wine pairings. The bulk of Luna Blu’s seating is on the patio—with heat lamps—and divine Bay Views.
Wines Befitting the Food
I was lucky enough to go to a Sicilian wine paring dinner hosted by one of my friends and favorite boutique importers—Un Po Pazzo-here in San Francisco. Not only are the wine dynamite but the producers behind them are real and funny and help bring a slice of the Sicilian experience wherever they go. Driving north in all three lanes of the 101 was one of those experiences I might have passed on, but we did get there in one piece.
The Grecanico Cantine Bianchi was fresh, fruit-forward and good to go with both the swordfish as well as many other seafood dishes. Grecanico is one of the ancient Sicilian grapes and you feel its history in the flavors. Another favorite was the Nero d’Avola from Alcesti. This isn’t a grape that I generally love but this one was balanced and acidic enough to carry the weight of the wine and work with food. Wrapping up a dinner with a 30-year-old Marsala from Intorcia was a delight. It doesn’t get any better than a sip or two of this classic, caramelized wine.
Many of these wines are available at the Wine Club on Harrison Street in SF. Cin cin,