Chiarello's Coqueta Brings Tapas To San Francisco's Pier 5

Chef Michael Chiarello, owner of Chiarello Family Vineyards, Napa Style and Bottega in Yountville, opened Coqueta, his first Spanish influenced restaurant, recently on Pier 5 in San Francisco.

Working with chef de cuisine Ryan Mcllwrath, Chiarello spent two years in Spain researching recipes for the tapas-inspired menu.

Lots of work also went into renovating the space. Tables were raised so diners can enjoy the ocean view, the outdoor terrace was glassed-in to create an enclosed al fresco bar area, a huge wood-fired oven was added to the open kitchen, and the inside décor was enhanced with long dramatic drapes and cowhide rugs.

"Coqueta" translates to "flirt," which references the chef's playful dishes, drinks and experimentation with a new Spanish cuisine.

The 56-seat restaurant offers a variety of plates. The Pintxos, one-bite skewers, are a fun way to start a meal and include house cured boquerones; chorizo, roasted artichokes and piquillo peppers; Serrano ham, Manchego cheese and apricot conserve; baby beets with cana de cabra cheese, and quail egg with pickled mustard seed and ham.

Tapas include white gazpacho, red kale salad, chicken and pea croquetas, sunny side up egg with shrimp and potato, grilled octopus and beef shortribs.

Larger family-style plates include a 32-ounce ribeye, whole grilled branzino and a variety of paellas.

Dessert includes a strawberry rhubarb gazpacho in liquid nitrogen, churros, and ice cream sandwiches.

The cocktail menu is equally inventive, with specialty sangria, mojitos, margaritas and traditional porrons — party pitchers of refreshing libations.

Coqueta is a perfect spot to wind down with a sangria and tapas and travel to Spain while remaining in San Francisco.