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Uva Enoteca

An Italian Escape in the Lower Haight

The Lower Haight isn’t known for high-end dining or hot spots. But with the addition of Uva Enoteca, Molotov’s is now sandwiched between some real polish with RNM on the other side. With Uva, friends and owners Boris Nemchenok and Ben Hetzel have created a jewel of a spot in the center of the gritty lower Haight. With pristine white walls, warm wood and an exposed brick wall, the space is both inviting and unpretentious. Even when packed, there’s an air of calm that pulls you in; you just can’t help but want to sit at those glossy wood tables and swirl the crystalline glasses.

After claiming the end of the bar, where we had the best view of the whole dining room, we were presented with a small dish of Nocellino olives and bright red packages of bread sticks. Good thing because choosing what to drink takes time. A fun and flirty list of Italian wines offered by the 2oz taste or the 8oz quartino is made even more tempting with the addition of Camber Lay’s (Epic, Range) wine and beer cocktails that are oh-so-delicious.

The In Bocca Al Lupo, a mix of Lillet Blanc, prosecco, chilis and basil is a stunning choice. However, I opted for a clean, minerally white with just a touch of nuttiness -- the Biferno Bianco -- a Trebbiano from Molise. My dining partner selected a Rosato of Refosco, which must have hit the spot because it was gone before I thought to ask for a sip.

With wine in front of us we started our meal with a piccolo carne plate ($16), a chef’s choice of 3 meats, which we influenced with mentions of our favorites. Parsed out on a beautiful hand-crank slicer, the meats have a rustic look to them and I swear they taste better because of the extra attention involved. To accompany the meats, we ordered fresh beans with pancetta and onions ($4.5), a tasty mix of favas and green beans, and persimmons with lardo and smoked salt ($6). The last dish was a surprise hit because lardo (granite-cured pork fat) has always seemed a bit intense, but paired with the crisp, spicy persimmons and the smoky salt, it was a winner -- even if the salt was a bit heavy handed.

From there we turned our attention to the bread. Uva offers panini, tramezzini, piadini, bruschetta, and pizza. No fear of carbs here. A piadine ($7.5) of eggplant caponata, arugula, and Montasio cheese was our choice. The chewy, folded flatbread made a nice accompaniment to the spicy, sweet eggplant and the peppery arugula. In addition, we ordered salad of arugula, bitter greens, beets, and bitto ($7), a cheese that is something of a mix of ricotta and goat cheese.

At this point, we’ve moved onto glasses of Verdicchio and Cortese, both slightly fuller whites, and while sated, we still want more, so: a salumi, fresh herb, and mozzarella pizza ($13) is on its way. Uva’s pizza is bit different from the recently popular Neapolitan style. Their version has a thin, almost cracker crust and the sweet sauce is used liberally. Not quite what we were craving, but with a shared glass of Grignolino d’Asti, we were still very happy.

And to finish off this most pleasant of evenings, gelato -- a most amazing gelato, and rival to scoops had seaside in Riomaggiore years ago. Tonight we went a bit more decadent than our usual scoop of pistachio and chose vanilla topped with pluot granita, slices of peaches, and rose-scented amaretti cookies ($7). The perfect end to the meal; who knew vanilla gelato could sing so? And with a taste of fizzy, sweet Brachetto d’Acqui, we truly had been transported. Lower Haight? Where’s that?

Lower Haight