All photos courtesy of Krescent Carasso

The RundownSan Francisco

Everything You Need to Know About Penny Roma, Now Open in The Mission


Before you go to a restaurant, what do you want — or need — to know the most? In our series The Rundown, we’re sharing all the essentials about Resy restaurants, from our newly opened and go-to’s, to soon-to-be-favorite spots.

This time, we’re looking at Penny Roma, the new restaurant from the folks that brought you the pasta palace Flour+Water in The Mission. The team has created a simple menu of classic, craveable hits to keep you coming back for more. Here’s everything you need to know.

1. There’s a reason the space looks familiar.

If the restaurant seems familiar to you, know that it’s in the old Central Kitchen space. The team transformed the former fancier restaurant into something more approachable, adding a plethora of plants and antique rugs, hanging dangling lights throughout and painting the walls a cool blue-gray hue, all of which make the space feel a bit more homey. Don’t worry — there’s still the open-air courtyard with retractable roof and heaters throughout.

2. It’s a pasta palace — but that’s not all it is.

The menu is divided into a few sections: start with the pesce crudi, or raw seafood section, which features raw fish dressed up like slices of king salmon with juniper salt, lemony sorrel, crunchy cabbage, and bright orange umami pearls of roe or albacore tartare with capers, Calabrian chile oil, and a layer of crushed pistachios that provide a nice textural contrast.

Move to the small antipasti dishes, which are small plates featuring ingredients and components that will change often and with what’s in season. A dish of tart marinated maitake mushrooms and squash over a sunchoke puree let you know we’re well into fall.

From there, you could order all the pasta plates and a couple contorni (small vegetable sides) and call it a day — this restaurant is from the Flour+Water folks, after all. Taglietelle alla Bolognese is a classic done well, as is their cacio pepe made with toothsome tonorrarelli so good you’ll think you’re eating in Rome.

But if you’ve got the stomach space, there are meaty secondis, like a big 32-ounce bone-in beef rib eye grilled over a wood fire and topped with bone marrow salsa verde.

3. The approachable wine list spotlights Italy and beyond.

The wine is selected by Sam Bogue, the restaurant group’s longtime wine director, who has created a list of approachable options by the glass and bottle from Italy and beyond. The wine list includes options that lean both classic and also “natural” in style, like the Los Chuchaquis Sparkling Albariño from Stirm Wine Company. This slightly effervescent and kinda funky pet-nat is a good choice to start and particularly pairs well as you dive into the crudi to start your meal. If Sam is there, ask him to pair your meal.

4. Look for talent from flour+water, True Laurel, and more.

The food foundation of Penny Roma was built by Thomas McNaughton and Ryan Pollnow, who are co-executive chefs and partners in the Flour+Water restaurant group.  But they’ve enlisted the help of the talented Geoff Davis to help collaborate on the menu and run the day-to-day as Chef De Cuisine. Davis most recently spent his time as executive chef at True Laurel (and is also a Resy Contributor). Also on the culinary team are Rachel Orner as Executive Sous and Erik Hernandez as Sous Chef.

5. You can pre-game or post-game at the Enoteca.

The Flour+Water Pasta Shop adjacent to Penny Roma transforms into an Enoteca every evening. Come early, have a glass of wine and pop open a conserva can, or head over after dinner for a digestif — the choice is yours.