Doggone Good Sandwiches at Il Cane Rosso

Columnist
School of Medicine

Daniel Patterson is an American chef who is considered one of the front-runners of California cuisine. He owns San Francisco’s Coi, which rates two stars in the Michelin Guide, and was named Best New Chef by Food and Wine Magazine in 1997 and Chef of the Year by San Francisco Magazine in 2007.

Given this impressive resume, I figured I had to try his casual Italian rotisserie, Il Cane Rosso (“the red dog” in Italian). The small café is located inside the Ferry Building and offers an a la carte menu that includes salads, sandwiches, soup, roasted chicken and various snacks and sides. All the offerings put an emphasis on local produce, such as the County Line Farm Mustard Green Salad ($8.50), which is composed of shaved fennel, peaches, almonds, blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. Also on the menu is an intriguing array of local wines, beers and other beverages, such as a honey-basil ale ($5) and orange-cinnamon iced coffee.

Because people often refer to this place as a rotisserie, I figured I had better order something that might show off Il Cane Rosso’s roasted meats. After poring over the menu, my fellow taster and I finally settled on two sandwiches: the Marin Sun Farms Beef Brisket, with cherry tomato conserve and mustard aioli ($9) and the Prather Ranch Slow-Cooked Pork, with sweet pepper agrodolce and lemon aioli ($9).

We also ordered a pitcher of Farmers’ Market Punch, a local wine combined with market fruit and seltzer. After placing our order at the cashier, we were given a number and told to sit wherever we could find seating. This ended up being outside, which turned out to be the best option of all, considering the warm weather, beautiful view of the San Francisco Bay and prime people-watching location.

The first item to arrive was the Farmers’ Market Punch. The pitcher was filled with peaches, mint leaves and white wine, which looked promising but turned out to be mildly disappointing. I was expecting to taste something a bit more vibrant—this drink was a bit flat, but refreshing on a warm day nonetheless. (As a side note, the “market shot” beverage at Frances, a restaurant in the Castro, is out of this world).

Our sandwiches arrived about ten minutes later and looked fantastic. Thick slices of bread enveloped a thick pile of steaming, caramelized meat. Tucked in the middle were splashes of various accoutrements: tomatoes, peppers and bright sauces.

The Prather Ranch Slow-Cooked Pork sandwich was pretty good, but not as mind-blowing as its appearance might have suggested. The meat was tender and well-cooked but a bit lacking in flavor. For me, the best part was actually the crispy and perfectly toasted Acme bread.

On the other hand, the Marin Sun Farms Beef Brisket sandwich was much better. The meat tasted smoky and savory and was nicely complemented by a cherry tomato mixture. Like its sibling, the crispy bread surrounding the meat gave a satisfying flavor and crunch. Both my fellow taster and I agreed that this sandwich was the best of the three items we ordered.

On busy days, the wait time at Il Cane Rosso can stretch up to a half-hour. In those circumstances, I’m not sure I would recommend the café to anyone looking for a bite to eat, but when the crowds are minimal, it’s a nice place to sample fresh salads and savory sandwiches. For those following the 7x7 list, the Petaluma Farm Warm Egg Salad (with anchovy-garlic butter, aged provolone and local greens) is listed at No. 14 — it’s rumored to be the best egg salad around. This is what I’d opt to try my next time there.

Il Cane Rosso

San Francisco Ferry Building #41

(415) 391-7599

canerossosf.com

ATMOSPHERE Bustling

RECOMMENDED DISHES Marin Sun Farms Beef Brisket sandwich

DRINKS: Local wines, beers, and non-alcoholic beverages

PRICE RANGE $6-$12.50 per plate

HOURS Monday through Friday 9am-9pm, Saturday 8am-9pm, Sunday 9:30am-9pm.

RESERVATIONS None taken

PAYMENT Credit and Cash