San Francisco’s famed Italian restaurant, Flour + Water, reopens with a new look and menu

It’s been four months since Flour + Water, this mainstay of San Francisco’s Italian food scene perched on the corner of 20th and Harrison streets in the Mission, went dark to embark on a four-month renovation. But since February 10, the pasta powerhouse is back and sports a sleek new design. Now the dining room is wrapped in zinc paneling with walnut and marble accents throughout and bathed in the warm glow of light fixtures shaped like creamy mozzarella balls. Co-chefs Thomas McNaughton and Ryan Pollnow have also taken the time to revamp the restaurant’s menu – and while the signature pasta tasting menu is back, there’s a new emphasis on antipasti.

The chef duo have remained true to what has become the restaurant’s hallmark in the 13 years since its debut in 2009: creative Italian cuisine based on Californian ingredients and a commitment to quality. And while the menu has always changed regularly to reflect seasonality, the antipasto selection has been specifically expanded to better showcase dishes blackened on the grill. Additions include pork belly spiedini with charred spring onion salsa verde and charred broccoli topped with avocado, white beans, lemon and fried garlic.

Of course, the pasta remains the main draw and the tasting menu remains the cornerstone of the menu. It’s $125 with the option of a $65 wine pairing and pairs with amberjack crudo and mushroom arancini before rolling into the always-exciting range of pastas like mushroom-shaped chestnut funghetti. sprinkled with chanterelles and trumpets, nettles and delicately folded veal and truffle agnolotti of pecorino seasoned with fresh horseradish.

Flour+Water Hospitality Group, which includes partners Kara Bratcher, Vanya Shekell and David Steele as well as co-chefs, worked with the San Francisco-based company Lundberg Design on the redesign; the goal was to not only bring the space up to date (they launched 2010-era Edison bulbs, for example), but also to adapt it to what has become the restaurant’s role as a place to celebration. While Flour + Water’s initial vision was to build a neighborhood spot, the team says the restaurant has since become a destination for special nights out. They wanted a space to reflect that, so the new look aims to be more refined with Italian marble accents and textured hand-plastered walls to echo the undulating noodles.

The wine list, courtesy of Flour+Water Hospitality Group Director of Wine, Samuel Bogue, zooms in on micro-producers from Italy and California. In addition, there is the new Pasta Water label, a collaboration with a natural winemaker subject to change. It is a blend of organic, multi-vintage, skin-fermented white wines of Roussanne, Chenin Blanc and Muscat. Reservations are always recommended, but walk-ins are accepted — and never forget that this is one of San Francisco’s somewhat limited Monday night dinner options.

Flour + Water, 2401 Harrison Street, is open for dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, Sunday, and Monday and 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Reservation recommended and available on Resy.

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