Hailing from the team behind San Francisco’s beloved one Michelin-starred Spruce restaurant comes La Connessa, the recently opened Italian restaurant located in Potrero Hill. Bacchus Management Group’s restaurant opened at the end of September along with two other concepts, Magic Donuts & Coffee and Louie’s Original, both of which opened in October. Each of the concepts are under one roof, offering guests three distinctly different culinary destinations, making way for an exciting culinary journey for hungry patrons.
La Connessa’s stunning space features a slate blue and metallic gold palette; an expansive illuminated bar; exceptional art deco design; high ceilings and offers guests a beautiful, elevated vibe made possible by Left Coast Design.
“Often, a space ‘tells” you what it wants to be,” explains Owner and Bacchus’ founding Partner and President, Tim Stannard. “In this case, the tall ceilings and the L-shaped layout of the building led to the long, faceted bar and tall arched back bar. We were inspired by some of the cafes in Milan we saw on our last visit, but adapted the classic elements of those spaces to a more modern ‘San Francisco’ look and feel.”
“Connessa” means “connected” in Italian and this restaurant is the area’s newest neighborhood spot to gather for both special occasions or casual meals and drinks at the bar. La Connessa is a modern take on the classic trattoria that celebrates traditional Italian cuisine with an array of classic dishes with contemporary influences.
The menu offers a range of classic dishes crafted from the finest hand-selected ingredients. From the expertly blistered wood-fired pizzas by Marra Forni, perfect for sharing, to the hearty secondi selections, including hand-made pastas, bistecca, and local seafood, La Connessa promises an worthwhile dining experience.
The menu features a variety of antipasti such as roasted jimmy nardello peppers and roasted artichokes to prosciutto di san daniele with gnocco fritto and arancici with provolone. Pastas include a ricotta gnocchi with cetara anchovy; tagliatelle bolognesel; spaghettino al limone and more. Wood fired pizzas include the pancetta with leeks and potatoes to the funghi with hen-of-the-woods and garlic confit. Finally, there are several larger format entrees such as the rib eye tagliata withe beef tallow potatoes and local rock cod acqua pazza.
We chatted with Owner and Bacchus’ founding Partner and President, Tim Stannard, on restaurant inspiration, menu highlights, bar program and more. Here’s what he had to say.
La Connessa just opened up — talk about the inspiration behind the restaurant concept. What drives the menu and overall ambiance of the space.
La Connessa is a restaurant that we’ve wanted to do for years. We love building neighborhood restaurants and had been looking for just the right place to put this restaurant. La Connessa brings together all of the things that we love in a great local neighborhood spot—simple, perfectly prepared seasonal food; great cocktails and a beautiful bar; a well curated wine list full of well-priced gems from small family wine producers.
Bacchus recently opened up two other concepts in the same building. Talk briefly about these and why you chose this neighborhood to expand the restaurant group’s footprint.
First, we’re long on San Francisco. As a born and bred San Franciscan, I want to continue to invest in what I think is the greatest city in the US. And this location, in the middle of one of the great neighborhoods in San Francisco, facing Jackson Park, was almost too good to be true. In building out the trio of restaurants—La Connessa, Louie’s Original, and Magic Donuts—we played around with the type of food that just makes you smile. I mean, how do you not just love a great donut? Or a burger, fries, and a dipped soft-serve cone? Pizza and great cocktail? C’mon!
What are the highlights on the menu and things that shouldn’t be missed out on? Will the menu be seasonal?
The menu is hyper-seasonal, very much driven by whatever the local farmers bring to the kitchen each day. Right now, we’re at the end of tomato season, so you should get those while you can, but also the local Jimmy Nardello peppers—simply roasted and drizzled with a lemon vinaigrette—are incredible.
Same for the late-summer squash which we are doing as a raw vegetable salad with basil, mint, pistachios, and caprino. The pastas are all handmade here, with my current favorite being the “Spaghettino al Limone”, a very simple pasta done with fresh lemon, black pepper, a little butter, and grana padano.
How has the restaurant been received and what are your expectations within this first year?
The response to all three of the restaurants has been overwhelming. La Connessa has been sold out since the moment we released reservations and the bar has been packed every night. In Magic Donuts we keep making more and more donuts every day and keep selling out.
We’re up to nearly 2,000 donuts each weekend and we’re just getting started! And at Louie’s Original, we did a sneak peek dinner for the neighborhood and the line to get in stretched all the way down the block. I’m looking forward to watching the restaurants continue to get to know our neighbors.
Talk about the bar program.
As with all of the food and wine, as we worked on the cocktail and spirits lists, we spent a lot of time thinking about our ideal of a great neighborhood bar. The cocktails are complex—but not complicated. They are simply delicious—straightforward without being flashy.
And for those nights when you don’t want to overdo it, we created a selection of aperitivi—low-alcohol, vermouth-based drinks that are light and refreshing. And finally, because there is something special about going into a new bar and discovering some hidden gem on the back bar, we hunted all over Europe (As well as right here in the Bay Area!) for some of the best digestivi you’ll ever see collected in one place.