The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

Che Fico Review: Upscale Italian Worth the Sticker Shock?

The+best+focaccia+of+Geoffrey%E2%80%99s+life.+Staff+photo%3A+Geoffrey+Franc
Geoffrey Franc
The best focaccia of Geoffrey’s life. Staff photo: Geoffrey Franc

Che Fico, meaning “That’s so cool” in Italian slang, is an acclaimed Italian restaurant from San Francisco that recently opened a location in Menlo Park as a part of the new development on El Camino Real. Excited about the opportunity to try such lauded dishes, we were willing to do whatever it took to get a table, even if that meant making a reservation two weeks in advance for a Tuesday at 8 p.m. So, is Che Fico worth the hype?

 

Food Satisfaction: 9/10

Geoffrey: To start with the positives, I want to say that I have had many focaccia breads in my life, including my great-great-grandma-from-the-Italian-hills’ homemade recipe. But I have never had such perfectly made focaccia: crunchy crust, melt-in-your-mouth inside, with all the flavors coming alive.

 

Sonia: I ordered the Tortelloni de Zucca, which was excellent for what it was. However, I wished I had read the dish description more closely. I like balsamic fine, but as the base of my pasta, the tortelloni absorbed the flavor and I could barely taste the squash. As I scraped off the extra balsamic that was overpowering all the other flavors, I looked over to my right and was filled with envy as I watched my friend Audrey enjoy her simple spaghetti. When I stole a forkful of her dish, I regretted teasing her for a “basic” order. Her Spaghetti Pomodoro was elevated; the pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente and the traditional string spaghetti had been replaced by thin tubes. This was unlike any traditional, children’s menu spaghetti I’d ever had. My tortelloni was sophisticated, but I craved something a bit more comforting. 

Sonia’s Tortelloni de Zucca. Staff photo: Sonia Dholakia (Sonia Dholakia)

Geoffrey cont.: I, too, was tempted by Audrey’s Spaghetti Pomodoro, cooked perfectly al dente, and when she couldn’t finish it, I did. I also tried some of Sonia’s tortelloni, as I had thought about ordering it. However, the squash flavor was a bit overpowering.

 

Sonia cont: I was intrigued by our guest star, Opinions Editor Alyssa McAdams’ gnocchi which she described as “pillowy soft, like a cloud” and “great for those who like copious amounts of cheese”; however, I’m not sure a pound of cheese could warrant the gnocchi’s $50 fee. 

 

Geoffrey cont.: For my main dish, fearful of Sonia’s anti-simplicity rampage, I opted to try the Salsiccia e Funghi pizza instead of the standard Margarita. It came as advertised, though the funghi (mushrooms) drowned out the salsiccia (Italian sausage) that drew me to the dish in the first place. It seemed the entire pizza was constructed as a bowl for thinly-sliced cremini mushrooms. I eventually took all of them off, resulting in an embarrassing moment with the waiter. While not in the name of the dish, the accompanying chilis added a bit too much spice for my sensitive palate. Based on the way the crust, sauce and cheese melted, I think I would’ve greatly enjoyed a pizza without all the frills, but I was irked by the parmesan-coated crust. If a pizza crust was good enough, I could eat it for weeks; this crust, however, does not meet the criteria for a weeks-long pizza-crust marathon, as I’ve had better (and cheaper).

 

Atmosphere: 7.5/10

Sonia: Che Fico reservations are in such high demand we had to go on a Tuesday, and 8 p.m. was the most ideal time with our study schedules. Even late on a weeknight, the outdoor area was both lively and visually beautiful. Embroidered cloth napkins, teal tables and comfortable-yet-chic booths made it an upscale yet comfortable setting to enjoy a meal. Additionally, the restaurant’s popularity resulted in us being surrounded by other groups enjoying their meals which created an active, bustling atmosphere.

 

Geoffrey: While Sonia was swooning over the fabrics, I was freezing in the blind spot between heaters. Granted, I loved the setting of the restaurant, and no one else was excessively cold, but reader beware: indoor seating is limited.

 

Service: 10/10

Sonia: Possibly a result of a newly-opened restaurant, the service was very personable. Our food came quickly and the only road bump was when the manager came out to tell us our friend Alyssa’s gnocchi had been slightly overcooked, but another batch would be out in five minutes. Sure enough, it came out in three. The menu can be slightly confusing, but our waiter was more than happy to answer any questions and was highly knowledgeable.

 

Geoffrey: The service was fantastic. The only awkward moment came when the waiter pitied me for taking off the mushrooms.

Value: 4.5/10

Sonia: There is no denying Che Fico is pricey. The food is good, but is $30 justifiable for a slightly better version of spaghetti pomodoro? I’d argue no. After leaving Che Fico, your stomach will be full, but your wallet will be hurt. To minimize that pain, I would recommend opting for a more family-style meal, ordering a couple dishes to share instead of paying $30-50 per individual.

 

Geoffrey: A $28 bougie pizza here is only $18 at similar-quality Doppio Zero (with locations in San Carlos and Mountain View). I’ll have to try their plain Margarita pizza, but I think regardless it could be a little less pricey. That said, the service is very attentive.

Alyssa’s gnocchi was “like a cloud, with black truffle on top.” Staff photo: Alyssa McAdams (Alyssa McAdams)

Uniqueness (bonus point): 0/1

Che Fico was excellent, and the colorful furniture created a lovely setting to eat some truly great food. But was it unique? Not really. There are many trendy, posh, Italian places out there to satisfy your carb craving.

 

TLDR: 31/40

Once our wallets recover we’ll be back at Che Fico, but not for the food we ordered (except the focaccia).

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Geoffrey Franc, News Editor
 

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 3

Favorite aspect of journalism: Telling people's stories and learning about the world through them.

Interests outside of school: history, running, and Mock Trial

Class of 2025

Sonia Dholakia, Arts & Lifestyle Editor
 

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 3

Favorite aspect of journalism: Working with the entire staff to create a great product and becoming friends along the way.

Interests outside of school: Mock trial, traveling, and listening to Taylor Swift.

Class of 2025

Alyssa McAdams, Opinions Editor

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 2

Favorite aspect of journalism: Layout days, because we get to listen to music and eat snacks and talk while we work together on print

Interests outside of school: Soccer, flag football, piano, and spending time with my dog

Class of 2025

Comments (0)

The Coat of Arms encourages dialogue with our audience. We welcome constructive comments that avoid slander, hate, profanity and misinformation. In an effort to give voice to a variety of perspectives, anonymous comments will be considered, but signed comments are preferred. If you would like to submit an anonymous comment, please write "Anonymous" in the "Name" field below. While a valid email address is required, The Coat of Arms will not publish your email address. The Editorial Board will review comments and decide whether they will be put online; the editors reserve the right to edit for concision.
All The Coat of Arms Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *