Flour + Water, locating in the Mission District, has been a popular spot ever since it opened its door in 2009. As its name, “flour” and “water” are the two basic ingredients (and eggs) for pasta making, hence it’s an Italian restaurant. Chef Thomas McNaughton is definitely a pasta master. He had written a cookbook on the subject, which the signed copies are available for purchase in store. In this case, why not opt for a pasta tasting, featuring appetizer, 5 pastas, and a dessert, at the pasta master’s restaurant?
Starting off with the appetizer, the waitress brought three dishes at the same time, one for me, a vegetarian one for my friend, and one small plates for sharing. I got the crispy pig skin. It was so puffy and crisp! The chili flakes added a bit of heat to it. It was quite appetizing.
This was the vegetarian option for my friend. It’s an one-bite size, which she described it as like fried rice ball.
This was the sharing appetizer, which consisted of asparagus, bok choy stems, and fresh ricotta. The vegetables were fresh, and the ricotta was creamy.
We were also given a jar of oil-preserved artichokes, which I supposed that it’s for pairing with the pastas?
Next comes to our first pasta of the night. It was asparagus manti with buffalo whey, pistachio and fine herbs. Manti is a type of dumpling, which is most popular in Turkish cuisine. The filling isn’t as complex as Chinese dumplings. These manti were simply filled with buffalo whey. However, the simplicity allowed us to taste the dough and the filling. It was a very light, and green dish. Loved the addition of pistachio.
Next, the halibut cheek cappelletti with dungeness crab broth, english pea and meyer lemon. Cappelletti means “little hat”, and which is what the shape of the pasta resemble. It’s originated from Modena, and served in broth traditionally. As San Francisco is known for the dungeness crab in the spring/summer season, I wasn’t surprised that they used it as their broth. The broth was clear, but flavorful. The meyer lemon added a bit of sweetness and lighten/freshen up the dish.The cappelletti were one-bite size. The chef has chosen my favorite part of the fish, the cheek, as the filling. It’s the tenderest part of the fish, but still quite firm.
The vegetarian version was the ricotta tortelletti with charred onion north and pickled cippolini onion.
Next, the hazelnut maccheroncelli with braised duck, lava leaves, blood orange and truffle butter. Maccheroncelli is a long tube, hollowed pasta, which is slightly slimmer than a pencil. It’s often served in casseroles or with heavy sauce, hence it made sense that I found this dish quite oily (in a good way) and heavy. The duck was tender and well-seasoned. I really liked the texture of this type of pasta, not to mention that it’s al dente, but the small, hollow center allowed it to soak up all the sauce and flavors of the duck. However, I found the truffle scent too subtle.
The vegetarian version was the hazelnut maccheroncelli with lava beans, blood orange and truffle butter.
We’re half way through. Next up, the pici with braised squab, charred cippolini onion, bearss lime and coppa. Pici resembles the fat spaghetti, originated from Siena, Tuscany. The dough is typically made from flour and water only, which totally correspond with the name of the restaurant. Squab is the young domestic pigeon, which is typically under 4 weeks old. It tastes just like the dark meat of chicken. As we’re on the 4th dish, I found it got heavier and heavier. It was as flavorful as any other dishes, but I think it was a bit redundant with the previous maccheroncelli with braised duck.
The vegetarian option was the pici with hedgehog mushroom, charred cippolini onion and bearss lime.
The final pasta of the night. Originally, it was a lamb casonsei with nepitella, carrot and walnut on the menu. However, I don’t eat lamb, and they had absolutely no problem with accommodating my dietary restriction. Therefore, I got the pork trotter raviolini with broccolini and whole grain mustard. I loved it! Raviolini are the smaller ravioli. The pig trotter filling had a perfect balance of fats and meat.
The vegetarian option was the sunchoke casonsei with nepitella, carrot and walnut. Casonsei (aka casoncelli) are a kind of stuffed pasta, which originated from Lombardy, the north-central part of Italy. I absolutely adore this dish! The vibrant color, and the filling was so good that even meat-lover would love it too. What I found kind of special was the nepitella. It tasted kind of like a crossover of mint and oregano.
To end the whole tasting, the waitress brought up the dessert, which was blood orange gelato with chocolate streusel. Since the blood oranges are produced in California, I found that it’s used in a lot of cooking there. The gelato was so light and refreshing! It’s lighter than typical gelato, almost like a sorbet, but a bit creamier.
Overall, I would say it was worth the wait. My friend and I arrived around 4:40 pm, and the line had quickly formed soon after we arrived. It’s nice that half of the dining room is reserved for walk-ins, so don’t be discouraged if you didn’t get a table via reservation! Just that you definitely want to arrive at least 30-40 minutes earlier before it opens to make sure that you get the first seating. The waitress was attentive and friendly. It was also very nice of them to satisfy our dietary restrictions, as the waitress told me that they want to make the customers happy, and there’s no point of serving something that the customers won’t like. Though the restaurant is packed, and there were people waiting at the bar area, you won’t feel rushed.
Flour + Water
2401 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA
Tel: +1 (514) 826-7000