Fourth-Generation Chef Plans Italian Eatery in San Francisco
Rising star chef Alexander Alioto will open Plin in late July 2014 in San Francisco’s Mission District. Inspired by his family heritage and his extensive travels and stages throughout Europe, Plin will be a neighborhood restaurant specializing in Italian seafood and handmade pasta dishes.
A fourth generation chef and restaurateur, Alioto's family has played a major role in San Francisco’s rich history, beginning with the landmark Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant, Alioto’s, which has been an institution since 1925.
“I’ve wanted to open up a restaurant of my very own for some time,” Alioto says. “I’m excited to have a larger kitchen now to allow for different cooking techniques and to incorporate my family; my mother is overseeing Plin’s design and my father is lending his expert wine knowledge.”
It was only a matter of time before Alioto would decide that cooking is what he enjoyed most, having been raised in and out of the family restaurant business his entire life. After graduating with honors from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, he staged in Sicily and Emilia Romagna, the pasta capital of the world, to expand his knowledge of Italian cuisine and train at renowned restaurants like Ristorante San Domenico.
Upon his return to the Bay Area, he worked at top spots including The French Laundry and The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco before opening Seven Hills restaurant as a chef/partner. It was here that Alioto first garnered local and national acclaim, including such praise as Zagat’s “Best Italian Restaurant in the Bay Area,” 7x7’s 2012 “Your City, Your Chef,” and New York Magazine’s “America’s Top 101 Pasta Dishes” for his Raviolo Uovo di San Domenico.
Alioto's famous Raviolo Uovo will also make an appearance on Plin’s menu, which will focus on pasta and seafood dishes, with meat, game, poultry, and vegetarian offerings as well. Additional highlights include the namesake Agnolotti dal Plin stuffed with organic chicken, lemon zest, brown butter and crispy chicken skin; Black Bass Carpaccio with mussel cream, lemon segments, espelette pepper, and bread crumbs; and Grilled Spanish Octopus with confit tomatoes, bone marrow, crispy Italian butter beans, lemon juice and sage.
Notable Master Sommeliers Nunzio Alioto Jr., Alexander’s father, and Chuck Furuya will be at the helm of the wine program, which will have a carefully curated selection of wines by the half-glass and a special reserve list comprised of wines from Nunzio’s own cellar.
Bar Manager Daniel Federico, of Harvard & Stone in Los Angeles, will offer a classic and seasonally inspired cocktail menu using hand-pressed juices, house-made infusions, and herbs, fruits, and vegetables from the kitchen. Drinks will include Americano Sour with Rye Whiskey, Carpano Antica, Cappelletti Aperitivo, lemon, and egg white; and The Dignitary, with gin or vodka, elderflower liqueur, cardamom bitters, lemon, and pickled ginger.
The 3,700-square-foot restaurant, designed by Architects II, will have 100 seats comprised of booths, banquets, bar seating, and a quiet private dining room for 12. A large communal table stretches through the main dining room, with a clear view into the bustling white-opulence-tiled open kitchen.
For the interior, Joanne Alioto, Alexander’s mother, is creating a contemporary feel that emanates warmth, with earth and sea elements including blown Murano glass bubbles, beautiful walnut table tops, and a neutral color palette with varying shades of blue.
A few of the custom art pieces and unconventional lighting made especially for Plin include a delicate Mooi Herculeum chandelier, inspired by the Heracleum Plant; two striking “Moby Dick” light pendants made of smooth and rough fiberglass; and three “floating fish” above the communal table by Jan Pauwels.
Plin will be located at 280 Valencia St., near 14th Street, in the Mission District.