Continuing the parade of national print media praise for our local food scene, Esquire magazine has released their Best New Restaurants list for 2011 which, among other things, includes food writer John Mariani's Restaurant of the Year honors for chef Michael Mina's flagship outpost. Although Mina's rise from local chef to nationwide empire builder might seem like a turnoff for the foodie set, Mariani lays on the praise for the chef's return to his roots at the former Aqua space:
Mina has learned from the global kitchen, and in this civilized dining room, he shows it... If Mina is there the night you visit, you'll have one of the great meals of your life by an American master.
It was apparently Mina's (soon to be illegal) foie gras shabu shabu and the "best New England dish on the West" — the Maine lobster pie — that won over the men's magazine.
Of course, there's been no shortage of honors for Mina's namesake location: the restaurant previously garnered three and a half stars from Michael Bauer back in December and local scenester Willie Brown once had "a great short rib experience" there.
Meanwhile, another notable San Francisco entry made the list: Chef Michael Tusk's "downright chummy" Cotogna makes an appearance thanks to the chef's inventive take on Italian cooking, his "radiant" pastas and a "fearsome rotisserie grill".
Finally, if you're one of those who only likes Esquire for the ladypics, this gal from Austin, Texas won Mariani's heart as hostess of the the year. She also raises chickens.