First Look: Manny Torres Gimenez at Roxy's Cafe, San Francisco

[Photographs: Colin Price]

Note: First Looks give previews of new dishes, drinks, and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.

Manny Torres Gimenez has left Mr. Pollo on San Francisco's Mission Street, where he created a daily tasting menu that went for $20 a person and garnered him quite a bit of buzz. There's some bad blood with the landlord and his former sous chef, who has taken over at Mr. Pollo, but Gimenez is keeping it positive: his new space (a few doors down) is more than twice the size, and he's calling on his background—he trained at Nobu in New York, Frasca in Colorado, Quince and Coi in San Francisco—to serve a new $75 ten-course prix fixe menu based on his favorite creations. "My concept is to do fine dining for ordinary people," he says.

"I wanted to bring my best dishes back," says Gimenez, "At Mr. Pollo my dishes changed every day, and I didn't want to repeat, but here, the structure is stronger." Though you might see a filled pasta with Cinderella pumpkin one day and butternut squash the next, he says he aims to perfect each dish, making small adjustments depending on what he can find at the farmers' market each morning. "Every day I make each dish better," he says, "and I fall in love every day more and more."


Plating pasta.

Some of the preparations are Asian-influenced, including a few plays on sushi, while others are fancied-up versions of the Venezuelan foods of Gimenez's youth. At the center of the meal are handmade pastas—some more traditional, like Žlikrofi served with crisp pancetta and brown butter, but others more unusual, like noodles made with sweet plantains in the dough, hand-cut on the chittara, and gnocchi made from yucca, served with wild mushrooms and Oregon truffles.

We got a peek at the complete tasting menu—check out all of the dishes in the slideshow above.

Gimenez is also serving a 4-course prix fixe for $25, as well as arepas and one handmade pasta each night à la carte. Open for lunch and dinner, text 415-375-1185 for reservations.

Roxy's Cafe

2847 Mission Street, San Francisco (between 24th and 25th Street map); 415-375-1185. Open 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.