ADVERTISEMENT

It doesn’t get fresher than at San Francisco’s new seafood restaurant Ancora

Ancora is the newest seafood restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District. This elevated concept is the first restaurant from executive chef Nick Anichin, formerly chef de cuisine at Atelier Crenn and Water2Table. Combining his previous decade of experience working in the food world with the network and passion for fresh seafood of Water2Table founders Joe and Andi Conte, he opened Ancora.

Italian for “anchor,” Ancora seeks to connect local restaurants and fishermen and women, allowing Chef Anichini direct access to San Francisco docks to source fresh fish for Ancora’s daily changing menu.

“Ancora’s association with Water2Table is different from other seafood restaurants in the city. We are able to source seafood directly from local fishermen and women, allowing us to cook the fish caught that morning the same night in the restaurant,” says Executive Chef Nick Anichin. “We are very proud to be a part of San Francisco’s amazing seafood scene and in such great company, from Angler to Le Fantastique and iconic places like Portofino and Scoma’s.”

Diners can choose from a selection of seafood caught that day, highlighting common varieties typically found on the California coast, such as roasted halibut rack with porcini and preserved chermoula and tomato anchovy paella. Other highlights include shrimp with sea urchin butter and plankton tagliolini with white sturgeon caviar.

ADVERTISEMENT

We chatted with Executive Chef Nick Anichin about opening this restaurant, his relationship with Water2Table, the inspiration behind Ancora and more. That’s what I had to say.

Talk about your relationship with Water2Table and how that relationship began in your previous job as chef de cuisine at Atelier Crenn.

I have worked with Water2Table for years, since I started working in restaurants in San Francisco. We’ve always had a great relationship and I met the owners of Water2Table Joe and Andi Conte through their supply relationship with Atelier Crenn where I was chef de cuisine. When I was approached with the idea of ​​a restaurant that showcased our shared commitment to hyperlocal fish and passion for seafood, we shared a similar vision of what it could be, and that vision became Ancora.

Do you work with other regional partners? If so, who and what is the association?

I have strong relationships with other fish suppliers, but the partnership with Water2Table is our priority. Joe and Andi consistently provide incredible quality fish to top chefs across the bay. We also source our produce from local farms such as Tierra Farm, Heirloom Organics, Dirty Girl, Fully Belly Farms and Blossom Bluff to name a few. It really comes down to the access our kitchen has through Water2Table and the abundance of produce that grows in Northern California.

How did you come up with the vision for Ancora? What was the catalyst for you to open this upscale seafood restaurant for yourself?

I always wanted to open an avant-garde fish restaurant that focused on people being able to interact with food in a simple way. The only part missing from my plan was a direct connection to the ships, and coincidentally, when Joe set out to open a restaurant, we had almost the exact same vision of what that restaurant would look like. We both wanted to highlight delicious food, specifically seafood, where guests could choose their own adventure through the menu.

What is the inspiration for the menu? What would you call this kitchen? What are fan favorite dishes?

The menu is very seafood-focused, relying on local and seasonal fish and produce. We wanted to return to the art of cooking: pan-fired, glazed, seared, where we are inspired by natural flavors and let the ingredients guide each dish. Our inspiration is always to treat the product well and make it as delicious as possible without too much fluff.

The halibut rack is a dish we opened the restaurant with and has remained popular with guests. It’s the perfect example of the choose-your-own-adventure mentality we’ve worked to create, complete with all the toppings that come with halibut: grilled garlic bread, sausage, and pepperonata. Plankton Tagliolini with Caviar is another fan favorite, where we incorporate plankton from Veta la Palma, an aquaculture facility in southern Spain, into the eggs used to make the tagliolini, and then the we finish with heaps of white sturgeon caviar and bottarga.

What’s the difference between shellfish native to San Francisco Bay and the California coast?

The oysters stand out the most to me. Bay Area oysters have an obvious fruitiness that you don’t get from classic East Coast salted oysters. Black cod is also something unique to the West Coast. I could never get it when I lived in Chicago, so it’s exciting to be able to cook it now, and the same with Pacific halibut. That’s the beauty of Ancora’s menu and mission: we want what we’re serving to be as local as possible.

How has it been received since opening in July? What do you expect next year to bring to Ancora?

The restaurant has been very well received so far. We are busy with amazing reviews coming in from diners. It means a lot to our team to see guests from the industry come to enjoy our food. We are fortunate to be where we want to be and plan to keep the momentum going.