The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2015

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Page 88 of 136

88  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2015 by Richard Carleton Hacker T hey say location is everything, and that certainly is the case with Hotel Vitale, San Francisco's plush boutique hotel, scenically situated across the street from the Embarcadero waterfront, with stunning Bay Bridge views. But just as important to the hotel's guests and the city's resident diners is Americano Restaurant & Bar, located within the hotel and offering the same San Francisco Bay ambiance, with the added allure of the international culinary talents of Executive Chef Josh Perez. "For the past few years we've been rooted in a rustic Italian theme," Perez says of Americano's menu, "and that's where a lot of my training comes from. But I wanted to stretch the boundaries of just being Italian. I wanted to access more of other cultures, and other cuisines, and try to infuse them into Americano's menu, which is a 'natural' in a multi-cultural city like San Francisco. My mom is Chinese and I was born in San Francisco, so naturally I've been exposed to Chinese, Filipino, Latin and Middle Eastern cuisine." What is even more notable about Americano's ever-evolving, multi- national menu is the fact that Perez has managed to create a gourmet reflection of so many different cultures without his ever having left the Bay Area. Since he started his culinary career, this San Francisco native has built an impressive resumé at notable local restaurants such as The Franciscan at Fisherman's Wharf, Zuni Café, Absinthe, Firefly and The Liberty Café, prior to joining Americano as Sous Chef in 2007; he was promoted to Executive Chef in 2014. All of this experience plays out in Americano's new menu, where one of the specialty dishes is a boneless six-and-a-half-ounce prime ribeye, served alongside braised kale with onion and white wine, tossed in cream and parmesan and accompanied by Yukon gold "smoked potatoes." "We roast and smoke them aggressively," says Perez. "First, we get a pan going with some coals and put in some wood chips, and within an hour and a half, the smoke completely permeates the potatoes. Then we toss them in black garlic vinaigrette, which brings out that earthy, smoky flavor. Paired with the rich succulent caramelized meat and served with a black garlic au jus, the flavors really complement each other." "We've always had a farm to table approach," Perez says, "especially with the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market right across the street. But as much as we'd like to say every- thing close by is the best, it's not always true. For example, we use Heritage Foods USA's pork, which is raised in Iowa and Nebraska. The quality of the fat, the marbling of the meat, the color and texture and smell—you just can't get that kind of product around here. On the other hand, we use Water2Table, which ships us hook-and-line fish directly from local fishermen." It just goes to show—at Americano, fusion is definitely the perfect mix for everything Chef Perez and his team create. K N O R T W X B I L FARM TO FUSION AT AMERICANO IN SAN FRANCISCO Executive Chef Josh Perez. e Best of All Worlds An Americano favorite is fried Cornish game hen with kimchee, made the traditional way: salt-rubbed cabbage, mixed with chilies, gar- lic, carrot, apple, scallion and fish sauce, then fermented. To cool the kimchee spiciness, it is served with a citrus ginger yogurt. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOIE DE VIVRE PHOTO COURTESY OF JOIE DE VIVRE

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