At long last, Melissa Perello's Michelin-starred Pac Heights hot spot Octavia is reopening tonight, serving dinner for the first time since the pandemic hit last March.
Both of Perello's popular restaurants, Octavia and Frances, have been dark for over 15 months, due in part to the fact that Perello was in Los Angeles overseeing the opening of her first Southern California restaurant, M. Georgina, as the coronavirus restrictions descended. That restaurant first opened in November 2019, closed in March, reopened for takeout items and sold CSA boxes and cocktails last summer, and then closed again last fall as second major wave of the pandemic prompted more shutdowns. It remains shut down.
Back in San Francisco, Perello and her team have been hard at work getting Octavia back open while Frances remains in renovation mode.
As she told Hoodline last month, "Since we have been shuttered for over a year, re-opening Frances and Octavia will more or less be like opening two brand new restaurants. And with the staffing challenges that everyone is having, we quite simply do not have the bandwidth to open both at once."
Taking the helm in the Octavia kitchen is newly hired chef de cuisine Nico Pena, who previously served as executive chef at Tartine Manufactory, and before that worked in the kitchens at Nightbird, Rich Table, Quince and Cotogna. Pena brings with him a wealth of pasta experience, and thus the pasta offerings will be expanding on the new Octavia menu, beginning with three this week: Sonora wheat campanelle with fava bean pesto, mint, and ricotta salata; lumache with pork sausage ragu, braised borage, and gypsy peppers; and Brentwood corn lasagna with shishito peppers, leeks, and black truffle.
One item not on the new menu was the "deviled" egg that is still pictured on the Octavia website homepage and was an early signature of Octavia, but perhaps it will return at a later date. And there are some fresh desserts on offer, including a malted chocolate cremeux with hazelnut and a salty muscovado chantilly.
The by-the-glass wine list and bottle list are not yet online, but on Octavia's Instagram account the team notes "a freshly updated wine list with notable new wines by the glass and bottle."
Guests will also find new mural art on the walls of the restaurant by artist Caroline Lizarraga. And there is a new parklet outside for outdoor dining.
You can make reservations at Octavia here up to 30 days in advance, and note that the restaurant is now open Tuesday to Saturday only.
As for Frances, Perello has not been able to give an exact timeframe for the reopening besides "later this summer," and both a parklet and the interior space remain under construction.
Octavia - 1701 Octavia Street at Bush
Photo: Augie Chang for Octavia