The renowned Flour + Water team opens a rustic pasta restaurant in San Francisco


The founders of San Francisco’s pasta destination Flour + Water are opening a new carb-centric restaurant called Penny Roma. In the new Mission District, the focus will be on rustic and simple Italian dishes, from crudos and wood-grilled vegetables to pasta like Cacio e Pepe – a clear departure from the innovative Kal-Italian cuisine from Flour + Water.

Penny Roma’s arrival in mid-October is actually one of many changes for the newly renamed Flour + Water Hospitality Group, formerly known as Ne Timeas Restaurant Group. The restaurant replaces its new American location, Central Kitchen (3000 20th St.), which has been permanently closed. The pandemic-born Flour + Water Pasta Shop, where the chefs sell fresh pasta and sandwiches to take away, will evolve into a casual wine bar at night. And Flour + Water will be temporarily closed on October 2nd due to a major renovation.

All of these changes are interrelated and fueled by a pandemic-fueled desire to serve the neighborhood in a less formal and more affordable way.

“COVID has allowed us to step back and re-analyze everything we do,” said Chef Thomas McNaughton, who owns the restaurants along with Chef Ryan Pollnow and other partners.

The success of Flour + Water Pasta Shop, which debuted in Spring 2020, sparked more talks about cleaning the slate board to move forward. Instead of thinking about how to reinvent Central Kitchen, they wondered what they would do if they just bought the empty restaurant space. The answer was an everyday restaurant rather than a special occasion place where they could discover a different, explicitly traditional side of pasta.

“We want to have a dinner party every night at Penny Roma,” McNaughton said. “It sounds cheesy, but we want this really casual atmosphere: Come as you are, come by a couple of nights a week.”

Simple, traditional Italian pasta dishes are the focus of Penny Roma in San Francisco.

Courtesy William Rittenhouse

Penny Roma will not be an Italian-American restaurant. No eggplant parmesan. No spaghetti with meatballs. But the chefs don’t focus on any particular region of Italy either, they explore based on simplicity and desirability.

Some dishes are likely to be familiar to a large audience, such as Bolognese tagliatelle and Florentine-style steak grilled over a living fire. Others may be less well known in the US, such as Agnolotti dal Plin, a meaty filled pasta from Piedmont, Italy. However, the chefs insist that they have no interest in shocking or enlightening the diners at this restaurant.

“If we don’t want to eat it on our day off, it shouldn’t be on the menu,” said Pollnow.

Menu prices have not yet been set, but expect small vegetable antipasti-style dishes to start at around $ 14 and pasta to cost less than $ 20.

As for design, the owners say they are trying to move away from the cool, industrial aesthetic of Central Kitchen and create a warmer, homely feel. You build in cupboards, renew the lighting and separate the dining room from the open kitchen. Think again about a dinner party.

Penny Roma is a new rustic Italian restaurant in the Mission District of San Francisco from the team behind Flour + Water.

Penny Roma is a new rustic Italian restaurant in the Mission District of San Francisco from the team behind Flour + Water.

Provided by Mehl + Wasser Hospitality Group

In the evening, the Flour + Water Pasta Shop serves an enoteca menu, which provides a place to hang out, a glass of wine and a quick snack for guests waiting to be seated at Penny Roma and Flour + Water. With only outdoor seating and counter service, it will be the most casual offering from the restaurant group. Think natural and classic wines alongside marinated mussels, canned fish and arancini. In the meantime, Flour + Water will reopen in winter after the renovation.

“We could have reopened Central Kitchen and it would have been perfectly fine, but let’s do something we really love,” said McNaughton. “These are all risky steps for us. We’re definitely not playing it safe. “

Penny Roma. Opening in mid-October. 3000 20th Street, San Francisco.

Janelle Bitker is a contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @janellebitker


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