When you come from San Francisco restaurant royalty, opening your own restaurant seems inevitable. When your father is Giancarlo Paterlini, wine mastery is your birthright.
Enter 1760, from his son Gianpaolo. Giancarlo opened Acquerello in 1989 with badass chef, Suzette Gresham, a fine dining experience that feels like a quick trip to Italy. As a Bologna native and wine expert, Giancarlo is steeped in Italian wines. Together with Gresham, they’ve maintained 2 Michelin-starred perfection at Acquerello for decades.
To be sure, Acquerello is a special occasion spot. Its sister restaurant, 1760, isn’t Acquerello 2.0. Nor is it Italian. But mother Acquerello informs 1760’s quality and range. In 2013, SF native and sommelier like his father, Gianpaolo, ventured in more casual directions with 1760. Ask fellow somms and food/drink industry: they adore 1760 as industry hangout, especially on Monday nights when all Champagne and sparkling wines are 20% off. Its location on party and dive bar Polk Street offers a refreshing respite. Like many of our greats, 1760 has been quietly, steadily turning out excellence for years.
Kicking off 2020 with fresh life, Gianpaolo and chef Carl Foronda launched a rotating themed menu. Similar to the still top-notch Trestle in North Beach, 1760’s new menu is a steal of three courses at $39, or $49 with an extra “bonus” course. The theme will change quarterly as a virtual trip around the world, starting with the current Winter in Tuscany menu paired with only-Tuscan wines (also a reasonable $35). This spring, they’ll launch a Filipino menu, straight from Foronda’s roots.
The Tuscan menu is sheer comfort, starting with a twist on rich ribollita. It’s less of a cannellini bean-heavy “stew” and more pureed soup dotted with beans and artichoke, sopped up with grilled bread. A juicy pork chop plays happily with contrasts of chestnut purée, lacinato kale and pickled pumpkin. You’d be remiss to skip the optional pasta for $10, arguably the best course. Handmade pappardelle noodles nearly dissolve on the tongue. It’s tough calling out which version is better: robust-yet-delicate lamb ragù dusted in pecorino romano cheese, or the bright tomato liveliness of vegetable pappardelle (PS: vegetarian courses are no afterthought or simply “meatless” versions, but their own dish, as this pasta proves). The meal ends with an icy-cool coffee semifreddo touched with cantuccini (biscotti) and hazelnuts.
These themed menus unleash 1760’s more elegant — but affordable — side, inviting lingering over multi-courses and an array of drinks. Thankfully, it also remains a bar stop with an a la carte menu that is also evolving in the new year. Foronda took over the kitchen in 2014, nailing an oh-so-California mélange of East-meets-West dishes, pulling from Europe to his years of Japanese food mastery as Sushi Ran’s sous chef. 1760’s menu veers recklessly-yet-seamlessly from Filipino lumpia in banana-chili sauce to fried chicken in Peruvian aji-verde and berbere Ethiopian spices.
Gianpaolo’s wine list runs well beyond Italian, though it digs deep there, too. Small producers are his forté and he frequently travels across Europe and NorCal hunting for the gems. You’d be right to assume Gianpaolo followed in the family line, but he’s earned his “chops,” working up from Acquerello busser at the age of 14. He was bi-coastal at restaurants like A16 and Michael Mina in SF and chef Ming Tsai’s Blue Ginger outside Boston. He’s produced wine, been Acquerello’s wine director and manages a tight team of somms at both 1760 and Acquerello. He pours Italian, French, Californian and Germanic wines, but expect under-the-radar offerings like a crisp Felsina Vino Spumante sparkling wine from Chianti or a crushable 2017 Rocca di Montegrossi Rosato (rosé) from Tuscany.
1760 is no slouch on the cocktail side either. Bartending great Christopher Longoria made 1760 destination-worthy for produce-driven (and beyond) cocktails, before he eventually went on to run the bar at still-tough-to-snag-a-reservation Che Fico. Ironically, 1760’s bar has been run by a trio of Christophers since opening. Chris Wright took over post-Longoria, and now Chris Rice crafts the drinks, including smaller cocktails to pair with the new tasting menus. On the regular menu, expect the likes of lingonberry and calamansi lime mixed with tequila, while tasting menu pairings include surprises like a blessedly dry dessert cocktail of Zucca amaro, amaretto, lemon curd, Giffard banana liqueur, chocolate bitters, sea salt and soda water, dusted with microplaned espresso. It plays like a soda fountain drink and tastes of childhood.
1760’s ability to “be all things to all people,” as much an elevated bar as hours-long feast, makes it a neighborhood treasure — one where perfection in wine, cocktails and food remains laid back. It’s the kind of place one wishes was in every ‘hood, but thankfully we live in a city that is merely 7×7 miles, so 1760 is basically in our backyard.