by Tiffany Maleshefski

Mention Il Borgo to most folks in San Francisco and they get all warm/fuzzy inside recalling their evenings spent at this cozy little Italian eatery in Hayes Valley. We'd been once before, but we were unimpressed. But given the fact that nearly everyone goes batty for Il Borgo, we figured it was time to give it another shot.

So there we were Saturday night. This speck of a restaurant was packed to the proverbial gills (not a difficult feat since it seats around 30 people). Anyway, smack-dab in the middle of the restaurant was a party of, let's say, 20. It was crazy town and we had a dozen people with us, considering the zoo-like atmosphere that was unfolding in front of us, we gave the staff a break. And we continued along this path of forgiveness for a long time for the duration of our meal. Why? Because it was, in a word, fun.

Forty-five minutes after sitting down, we were overjoyed by the arrival of a few baskets of soft, crusty, typical bread and a fantastic bottle of Maddalena Merlot, which was unusually robust for a Merlot, and a steal at $25, This was enough to keep frustration at a minimum. Alas, we had to wait roughly 10 minutes for the wine glasses, so the bottle just sat on the table mocking us with its alcohol content and promise of a quick buzz due to our long bout of hunger. But that's neither here nor there.

But then, our beleaguered server emerged with five glasses, fresh from the "dishwasher," which we think meant a quick dunk in a bucket of water somewhere, since most of the glasses had a fair amount of bread crumbs still clinging to the inside of the glass.