Incanto Restaurant Review - Special Head to Tail dinner BunRabs Home Yummy Chow Home

1550 Church St.
San Francisco, CA

No Guts, no Glory

  What kind of wimp doesn’t want to have guts? Not me. When I heard about Incanto’s annual head to tail dinner, I hightailed it to the head of the line.

The staff was friendly, knowledgeable and efficient.

Interesting and unusual wine selections. They don’t have 375ml bottles, but will pour you a half liter carafe of a wine that they are pouring by the glass.

Confusing: There is a 5% service charge put on the bill as well as a place to add the standard tip (I’m guessing that this might be for the behind the scenes staff?) I think that it would be better to put 15-20% on the bill and give the opportunity to tip and additional amount.
Atmosphere: A nice balance of rustic and elegant. Bare wood tables with Riedel stemware, Go in jeans or go in a business suit.    
Special "Head to Tail" Prix Fixe meal: $50
I greedily slathered the tapenade on the baguette, housemade grissini and foccacia. The balance of olives, capers and anchovy was irresistible.

Fried, slivered, pig’s ears
A heap of thinly sliced, greaseless, salty (in a good way) strips of porky goodness told me that I had come to the right place. Nibbling on these crispy strips of delectable listening devices was music to my mouth. They had a wonderful bacon-ey taste, without the smokiness.
Shaved tripe salad with parsley and lemon
These dishes look simple, but there is a lot of prep that goes into this cold preparation of paper thin tripe tossed with shaved fennel, olive oil, parsley and lemon juice. Tender, juicy and delicious. The only step that would have made this even better was to crisp the fennel in ice water to have a slight crunch.
Pig’s brain bruschetta
These pigs must have been pretty dumb, both lobes only cover one toast. But in terms of serving size (rather than intelligence) this was very rich and a little goes a long way.

The two sides of gray matter sat on a toasted piece of levain bread, some arugula leaves, evo, sea salt and pepper rounded out this decadent PB sandwich. Slightly alien in texture, but after the first bite this is a delicious treat.
Grilled lamb heart with sweet pea and fava bean mash and mint horseradish salsa

Seared to perfection. I heart this heart. Flavorful and paired with a green mash that contrasted well. The favas and peas were kept slightly coarse which played nicely with the heart, chiffonade of mint and micro-planed bits of fresh horseradish dotted on top.
Head, Liver and Intestines
Pork testa, grilled liver and chitterlings with rosemary potatoes

The testa (head) was fatty (fat headed pigs with little brains = dinner.) I cut into bits and ate it on top of the potatoes and bread. The liver was seared to perfection and presented sliced so that it’s glorious rareness sparkled from its core. The chitterlings were deep fried and served alongside aioli. Potatoes were sprinkled with fried rosemary leaves that were crisp and tender.

Chocolate blood pudding with cherries
Presented like a crème caramel, this HIV negative dessert glistened surrounded by pitted, poached cherries. It’s artery clogging richness was worth every bite. Avoid dribbling it on your clothes though, cuz blood and chocolate together must be the world’s hardest stain to wash out.


The risk of cooking all of the food correctly (not to “kill germs” but to enhance flavor) is that you are going to upset folks from the ignorati. The kitchen at Incanto must get food sent back to be deflavorized ‘til it’s gray in the middle by folks who don’t understand what food is at it’s best.

I understand that there are lots of folks who find this kind of food repulsive 'cause it’s usually the cheap bits that peasants eat or that it’s gooey or just plain weird. But these are wacky reasons not to enter this world of offal goodness. I mean, if you think of oysters as giant boogers, they aren’t gonna stay down, but if you think of them as tasty sea creatures, it’s a whole different story.

Since this review was written, we have returned to Incanto and blogged about it. Check out our further visits on April 16, 2006 and June 21, 2007.

Overall Rating:

Overall: Three carrots out of four. The Head to Tail dinner was GREAT. Every dish was offal, except for the dessert, which was bloody offal. I am definitely coming back next year.


Incanto Bathroom Rating

Attractive, clean, well stocked and tidy.

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