little italy @ the mina test kitchen

Joe and I got reservations at Little Italy at the MINA Test Kitchen (@MinaTestKitchen) in Cow Hollow about a month ago, and had been looking forward to this date night since then, as we are always passionate about trying new restaurants. When we got the reservation, all that was available for a Friday was 9:45 PM, so we took what we could get! The MINA Test Kitchen is an upscale dining space owned by famous chef, Michael Mina, that offers long-term pop ups with guest chefs.

We started the night off right with a C2 class at Corepower Yoga to sweat off a tiny portion of the calories we planned to eat later in the evening, then headed home to get ready for dinner. I love getting dressed up for our date nights, and wanted to try something new with my hair so I did a quick search on "how to do old Hollywood waves" and came across a great website that walks you through it. It was pretty easy and didn't take very long to do on my first attempt, so I will definitely be trying this again.

After drinks, we headed over to catch our 9:45 reservation at the MINA Test Kitchen. They apologized that they were running a few minutes behind, which we didn't mind at all. Still, the manager, Rafael, insisted on bringing us each a glass of bubbly for the wait, which was much appreciated! Once we were seated, our server explained how the menu worked:

You get all three antipastis on the menu, and each of them were amazing, but we especially loved the stuffed pepper. It was cooked to perfection -- the pepper was perfectly soft with warm bread crumbs oozing out. The manager also sent us the clams complimentary for being so patient, which was again very appreciated as we didn't even wait that long! He also came over during one of the first courses to recommended we order both the tagliatelle and also splurge on the lobster dish for the additional $10, so we followed his suggestion. The 'Osso Bucco' Saffron Tagliatelle and the Lobster Tortellini were both amazing, so rich with flavors. We got the roasted pork chop from the next section, and they followed with both desserts. My favorite dessert was the Bag of Zeppole, which is essentially a white paper bag of fried dough balls that were warm and fresh. So unhealthy and so yummy. 😳 Overall, the tagliatelle was my favorite dish, but Joe stuck with his guns and voted on the stuffed pepper (a close runner up in my mind too!)

During dessert, they also brought out multiple rounds of complimentary limoncello. The service here was truly some of the best I've ever had. That's something that really stands out

to me at a restaurant in San Francisco because the food scene is on another level here; meaning that everywhere you go will likely have amazing food, otherwise it's probably going to be out of business very quickly with so many other restaurant options for customers to choose. Great service is something that really sets apart the great restaurants from the amazing ones. The MINA Test Kitchen was top notch.

Since we had a late reservation, we were some of the last to leave. On our way out we were stopped by the chef, Adam Sobel (@asobel) "King of Porc," who's one of Michael Mina's chef partners. He introduced himself and asked us what we liked best, and told us a little bit more about what's been in the pop up space, what's been working with Little Italy, and what's in the works for February. Adam has delivered food at top restaurants around the country, including RM Seafood in Vegas, Bourbon Steak in D.C., and RN74 in San Francisco. He said Little Italy will probably end up staying in the space through Valentine's Day, so guys: start checking for reservations soon! I will be recommending this restaurant to anyone and everyone. The food, wine, and service were all perfect. If you'd like to check it out, you can get a reservation here. I look forward to checking out Mina's other restaurants in the Bay Area.