Pop quiz, hotshot: It's Saturday. 10:30 AM. You're at 10th & Christian and you're hungry. Where do you go?
Wrong. You go to Santucci's.
That's right, the place that makes the square pizza with the sauce on top also makes a killer weekend brunch, and with any luck you won't have to wait in line for two hours to get it. In fact, it was in a totally empty restaurant that we found ourselves on a recent Saturday, just the two of of us, plus our friends Jenny and Don in from Oakland, and one baby. And it's a damn good thing too, because we were all starving. (Well, our baby wasn't.)
There's nothing too outlandish on the menu, but plenty of alluring options that by and large lived up to their promise. In fact, I'll say that my spinach and goat cheese frittata was the best frittata I've had out anywhere. Lightly browned around the edges, yet still just faintly loose in the middle, it was packed with goat cheese and flavorful fresh sautéed spinach. Served with your choice of hash browns or tater tots (I went with the tots) and toast (which I skipped), it puts any diner omelette to shame. My totally unnecessary additional side of sausage was great too.
Lauren opted for French toast, about which I really can't tell you anything, because she wouldn't even spare one bite for me – though I can tell you that fresh strawberries and a generous scoop of mascarpone were involved. She also tried a side of the "homemade Greek yogurt", which had almost more of a ricotta-like texture, topped with honey and apple slices (more on those later).
Don went all-out lunchy with his brunch and got the roasted pepper, arugula and goat cheese flatbread, which is of considerable size and absolutely delicious. Having had that item before, I almost prefer it to the traditional pizza because of its bright flavors that shine through rather than getting muddled in sauce.
Jen got one of the specials: toad-in-the-hole with taleggio and sautéed wild mushrooms. This was an interesting concept held back by one strange decision: the mushrooms were earthy and delicious; the taleggio was allowed to stand alone in its own glory; the bread surrounding the egg was nicely browned and crisp, but the egg yolk was cooked all the way firm. This dish was the kind of thing that a runny yolk would have sent straight to the top of the all-time brunch charts.
Still, Jen proclaimed it the best brunch she ever had. The only other misstep I would point to is that the apples atop the Greek yogurt must have been sliced on a board that previously was home to some onions or garlic, because there was an unfortunate flavor to them.
Service was very friendly, and after our meal we even got a chance to chat with the chef – a real friendly guy with truly inventive facial hair.
I think brunch at Santucci's is a complete no-brainer: inventive, unpretentious food at reasonable prices, and with any luck, none of the waiting. I almost hesitate to recommend it so highly because I don't want the place jamming up and forcing us to wait next time we come!