We needed a place to take some clients so that we could open a few bottles of wine, enjoy some food, and talk about how much we love Terlano wines.  Don Jost, my San Francisco guide, selected Rose Pistola in North Beach.  After eating here I wonder- have I (culinarily-speaking) written this neighborhood off unfairly?

Terlano’s wines are bright, lively and super-mineral with a marked acidity.  These are food wines- and they truly sang with Rose Pistola’s elegant dishes.  The first creation we sampled was a stuffed squid in a tomato sauce over a little bit of soft polenta.  The squid had been expertly transformed into a type of sausage casing to hold a forcemeat of shellfish and spices.  Super tender, delicious and playful.  This was a winner with Terlano’s Pinot Bianco, 2010– a supple white wine with a beautiful glycerine mouthfeel, punctuated by flecks of acidity and a long, citrusy finish.

My favorite little dish was the wood-burning oven-roasted mussels.  This was the essence of simplicity- mussels seasoned perfectly and roasted in the oven until hot and bubbly.  These sweet little bivalves loved Terlano’s Nova Domus, 2008, a complexly aromatic, big mountain white.  There is something about those cool, flowery, tropical fruit aromas mingling with the briny, smokey saltiness of the mussels.  Heaven.

We also found the wild mushroom pizza to be an absolute perfect match with Terlano’s Pinot Nero 2010.  These gamey-sweet roasted black trumpets and chanterelles combined with the melted fontina made the Pinot Nero stand up and dance.  Tingling acidity and a beautiful strawberry fruit followed by that clean irony finish- perfection!

I feel guilty for my prejudice against North Beach and its Italian restaurants.  Rose Pistola reminds me that I shouldn’t be so quick to judge.  Not every “Italian” restaurant in Little Italy is red-checkered tabeclothes and tourist traps.  North Beach was home to the original Italian-American contingent, and is still home to some of the best food in the city.