The Latest From David Lawrence Leads SF’s Best New Restaurants

The chef behind the superlative Black Bark BBQ is back with a menu of woodfire-grilled meats

August 25, 2023 6:34 am
Spread of food with plates and drinks on a table
SF's best new restaurants include pizza, oysters and more
Joseph Weaver Photography

If you’re a lover of Italian food in the Bay Area, you’ve got two new spots to check out: one slow-fermenting top-notch pizza dough in North Beach, the other bringing the flavors of the Ligurian coast to Union Square. And speaking of seafood, a new neighborhood pearl is now open in Pacific Heights, devoting its menu to oysters and more. A Turkish pop-up has brought a brick-and-mortar meyhane-inspired restaurant to Palo Alto, while a fine dining steakhouse in Healdsburg brings woodfire-grilled meats, local produce and a touch of Texas flair to wine country. This last option comes courtesy of David Lawrence, the famed chef behind 1300 Fillmore — who, happily, was one of the first SF experts to give us his favorite spots to dine in town

 All the details below. 

Hand moving a slice of pepperoni pizza to a plate
A red pie with aged mozzarella and pepperoni from Flour + Water Pizzeria
Kristen Loken

Flour + Water Pizzeria

North Beach

Rose Pistola has taken its final bow, but the garlic is still redolent thanks to this new, all-day pizza hub. The space is divided in two: The flagship Flour + Water Pizzeria boasts a dining room of Italian inspiration, complete with a mosaic tile floor, as well as a full bar and beverage program and a few exclusive menu items, like a bone marrow pie. Flour + Water Pizza Shop, meanwhile, is perfect for to-go orders, including the aptly named “Big Slice”: a square behemoth with rotating seasonal toppings based on the team’s long-standing relationships with local farmers and producers. Play a few rounds on the fully restored vintage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game while you wait, or get your entertainment by watching the evolution of the dough in the glassed-in dough room at the heart of the restaurant. This artful base, crafted over the course of four days, with hand-selected grains from Central Milling may feature all manner of toppings from the classic to the avant-garde: Think a red pie with aged mozzarella, pepperoni and Mama Lil’s peppers or The Conrad, with taleggio, mushrooms, both aged and fresh mozzarella, kale and roasted garlic sauce. Hand-rolled mozzarella sticks are the ideal crowd-pleasing appetizer, and Double8 Dairy buffalo milk is a delightful dessert. 

532 Columbus Ave (map)

Little Shucker’s hot oyster selection
Little Shucker

Little Shucker

Pacific Heights

In a light, bright space with teal and apricot flourishes, the team behind The Snug has debuted a new raw bar offering up seafood staples ranging from simple but exquisite fresh raw oysters to luxe lobster rolls topped with caviar. Chef Adrian Garcia offers seasonal crudos, fish-driven salads and whole roasted branzino, but the big kahuna is undoubtedly the Big Shucker, a tower of treats featuring a dozen oysters, four chilled mussels, four prawns, kampachi crudo and Maine lobster. A beverage menu from John Fragola eschews on-trend natural options in favor of low-ABV cocktails like a spritz with Seville orange and vanilla or sparkling options from both Old and New World vintners.

2016 Fillmore St. (map)

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Spread of different kinds of cocktails on a table
Goodnight Prime offers an inventive craft cocktail selection
ComePlum/Goodnight Prime Steak + Spirits

Goodnight Prime Steak + Spirits


Taking its inspiration — and name — from Texas ranger Charles Goodnight, Goodnight Prime’s expansive, inviting dining room, decked out in earthy wood, brick and leather, is the perfect stage for chef David Lawrence, previously of 1300 Fillmore and Black Bark BBQ. Here, he marries his fine-dining expertise and top-notch sourcing to craft a menu focused on woodfire-grilled meats accentuated by gems from a four-acre organic garden at Sonoma’s Chalk Hill Estate. Think a six-ounce Japanese A5 wagyu paired with crispy duck fat-smashed potatoes or a Brandt barrel-cut filet mignon accompanied by rich five-cheese mac. Be sure to save room for a chocolate brioche beignet smothered in coffee-seltzer cream or a sticky toffee pudding — a nod to Lawrence’s London roots. The spirits side of things is curated by mixologist Devon Espinosa, with inventive craft cocktails like signature Loving This Goodnight made with blanco tequila, mango, orgeat and hibiscus simple. And the wine program showcases the richness of Sonoma County and beyond.

113 Plaza Street, Healdsburg (map)

Plated squid tentacle next to other dishes on a table
Meyhouse has cuisine and ambiance typical of Istanbul’s meyhanes, taverns
Joseph Weaver Photography/Meyhouse


Palo Alto

A one-time Sunnyvale pop-up has opened a flagship in Palo Alto devoted to the cuisine and ambiance typical of Istanbul’s meyhanes, taverns historically known for good food, good drinks and good conversation. At Meyhouse, co-owner and chef Omer Artun offers a melting pot of rustic flavors, beginning with a panoply of cold or hot mezzes that arrive gradually, so that guests can enjoy each dish at it comes: Think feta cheese spread with roasted pistachios and oregano or mussels marinated with warm spices. The Turkish-style grill helps Artun bring out the best in meat and fish, like Chilean sea bass glazed with a modern play on an ancient Byzantine murri, plus fig and ginger. More than lip service is paid to a meyhane’s roots as a drinking establishment: The Cos-Mey-Politan marries citrus vodka, ginger, pomegranate, curacao and lime, while the Pepper and Flower is made with both tequila and mezcal paired with charred bell peppers, Mari Gold amaro, lime, agave and salt. Decorative ceramic features made by Artun contribute to the allure of the beautiful space, evoking the colors of the ocean floor.

640 Emerson Street (map)

Spread of food and cocktails on a table in a booth seat of Corzetti
Corzetti’s wine menu pairs nicely with its northern Italian cuisine selections
Michelle Min/Corzetti


Union Square

The flavors of Liguria have come to San Francisco’s Hotel G, where, unsurprisingly, seafood is the star. Cioppino’s ancestor, ciuppin, is a delightful seafood stew prepared in a luxurious tomato broth; whole branzino is served with olives, tomatoes, rosemary and lemon. But the ocean is not the only source of this northern Italian bounty: Genovese pesto, stuffed pansoti pasta with walnut sauce and crispy focaccia di Recco filled with cheese also feature, while the namesake corzetti are served with hen of the woods mushrooms, sage and a taleggio cream. A cocktail program toes the line between approachable and avant-garde, with options like a “pizza spritz” with lambrusco, bitters and oregano or a negroni made with house-blend red bitters. A wine menu based on small-production wines from Italy and the U.S. completes the offerings nicely.

398 Geary St. (map)


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