Address: 469 Castro St. b/t 17th and 18th, The Castro, SF
Cuisine: Eclectic Pastas/Noodles
Date Last Visited: September 3, 2007
Dining Partners: Ate Di, BanYo, Miko
It was Labor Day and initially I wanted to have a party at my place. But since there were some “technicalities” due to an unexpected event that happened 3 days prior, that party didn’t happen. However, I didn’t want that setback to deter me from having a good night, so I had dinner with Ate Di, BanYo and Miko.
BanYo and Miko picked Ate Di and I up in Downtown and then headed to the Castro. Now, let me tell you, I love the Castro. Lots of hot men. Great eateries. Perfect. We really didn’t plan on anywhere particular to eat, so we stayed closer to the Market-side of Castro and went to Fuzio. Their specials listed outside their door looked good enough, so we stepped in.
When I saw the menu, I noticed that it said:
“Home of the original firecracker pork fusili.”
Ohh, intriguing. What made it so “firecracker”-like, I wondered.
What I really liked about the menu was how eclectic it was. They seriously had everything from Thai, Mexican, Italian, Chinese…the only thing I noticed was NOT there was Filipino. But hey, maybe they haven’t appreciated it our cuisine yet. That’s cool. They WILL eventually. There were Italian standards like Chicken Picatta and Ravioli with your choice of sauces, and then you get flipped to the other side of the world with Vegetarian Pad Thai. Groovy.
The appetizers really got our attention off the bat, especially the Toasted Homemade Bread Topped with Caramelized Onions, Feta Cheese, Tomatoes and Basil ($4.25). Doesn’t it sound great? So we got that.
For entrees, Ate Diane ordered one of the specials that was advertised out on the window, the fried calamari over liguini. BanYo ordered a simple green salad because he “wasn’t that hungry.” Miko ordered the Asian Noodle Bowl. And yes, I ended up ordering the Firecracker Pork Fusili. It is the house specialty, and if I ever have a chance to try a specialty at any restaurant, most likely I will. With the following description, how can you not?
“Corkscrew pasta with tender ginger-braised pork, firecracker-hot habanero pesto and sour cream -- stir to mingle heat and flavors together.” ($9.95)
While we were waiting for our food, I sipped my strawberry lemonade ($2.95):
…and looked around. I really liked the laid-back feel of it. Lots of hot gay men having very interesting conversations with their companions, friends, the next table, whoever…I really dug the vibe.
As I was spying on the bar, I admired the lighting fixtures and the cooks in the back making our meals. I saw flambés every now and then. H-O-T.
Here was our appetizer:
Ate Di and I got scared for a second because we thought that what was smeared on the bread was some type of olive tapenade. I really don’t like olives. I mean, I don’t mind them too much on pizzas, but having it as a main component in a dish frightens me. So when we bit into the bread, we were relieved that it was actually the caramelized onions. It had a nice peppery flavor. I enjoyed the sweetness and verdant flavor of basil chiffonade, the juiciness and freshness of the ripe tomatoes, and the tang and creaminess of the feta cheese. I love feta and almost pungent quality. This whole appetizer really came together beautifully. I would come back just for this one dish alone. YUM!
This was Ate Di’s dish: linguini tossed with toasted garlic, lemon, chili flakes, and butter, and topped with crispy calamari ($9.95).
I actually liked this one a lot. The ingredients are very simple and you can taste each of them. Even though there were chili flakes, it was never too spicy. The pasta was good, but the fried calamari is what makes this dish. A splash of lemon on the whole thing, and viola! Perfecto! The only thing that bugged me was that I could not help but contemplate that this is an extremely simple dish to make at home. I have made several types of pasta, and as I was eating this, I could already envision myself making it. Maybe the calamari would be a bit of a challenge for me since I have never made my own fried calamari successfully, but the pasta aspect of this dish is incredibly easy to duplicate, if not make better than the rendition I sampled here.
Here is Miko’s Asian Noodle Bowl:
Hearty Shanghai noodles in a traditional Dashi broth with Asian veggies, tofu, bean sprouts and cilantro ($8.25). Okay, Miko stepped outside for a moment, so I scooted myself into his spot and sneaked myself a taste. This was when I realized I do not like dashi broth. It has this odor and this flavor that I cannot describe. I can only say that I do not like it. I do not mind the tofu, I love Asian veggies, noodles, and cilantro, but the broth is what killed it for me. I don’t think that Miko liked it either because there was practically a full bowl on the table when we left.
And finally here was my fusili.
I was actually real excited because this dish is a great fusion of Mexican-related condiments paired with Asian-style meat and Italian pasta. I tasted the fusili by itself before I “stirred to mingle the heat and flavors,” and I found it a bit on the bland side. The pork on the other hand was plentiful and full of flavor. Then I made a terrible mistake. I mixed the whole thing, including the habanero pesto and sour cream. I should have sampled the pesto before I mixed it in because by the time I got to having my second bite, my mouth was on FIRE. Now THAT’S the “firecracker” part of the dish. It was like a firecracker ignited on my tongue. As much as there was sour cream in the sauce to lessen the heat somewhat, the spiciness made it hard for me to enjoy it. I mean, do you see all that green stuff on top of that sour cream? That’s all chili pepper. Ugh. I should have taken only half of it, then maybe it would have been more edible. Such a shame. It would have been great. The only other thing I can complain about is the pork. Yes, it was good, but there were parts of it that were charred/burned/tough. Some char it okay, but having it taste like charcoal is a different flavor that should not be consumed. Do you see that almost BLACK piece of meat at the bottom of the bowl? Yeah…Overall, I think this dish was good, but I would have liked it better if the heat was not so intense.
I think this place it okay. It does turn me off that it is a chain, but I like it because of all their offerings. However, having a family like mine in a place like this could either be a blessing or a death wish because 1) there are many things to choose from and it would be ideal to stick them in there especially if one person is craving Asian and another Italian, but 2) my family is so indecisive that it’ll take a while for them to decide on what they want. I do admire their concept and goal as a restaurant, though. I would come back for that homemade bread! Great snack! That was the winner of the meal.
Well said...but kinda sounds like my blog title. =)