Chef Jason Fox, who garnered acclaim as the chef/ owner of San Francisco’s popular Commonwealth, opened his second restaurant earlier this month. Called Oro, it’s located in Mint Plaza and focuses on small and family-style plates and local ingredients. There’s also a charcuterie program as well as a “blind tasting menu” that allows diners to leave their meal in chef Fox’s hands. We spoke with the chef about what diners can expect when they visit.
The Daily Meal: In a nutshell, what is the concept?
Chef Jason Fox: In a nutshell, Oro is a casual restaurant concept that draws from the vast local resources to create eclectic California fare with a Mediterranean influence.
What inspired the concept?
We wanted to create the type of restaurant that we like to dine in ourselves. Family style eating made from the best product available, utilizing great technique, in a comfortable environment.
Are there purveyors or specialty produce that you're serving that you'd like to highlight your relationship with?
We are always happy to feature as many local fish and shellfish as we can, such as spot prawns from Half Moon Bay, squid from Monterey, or rock cod from Bolinas.
If you were forced to name one dish that people need to come check out at the restaurant, what would that be?
We really like our rotating pork cut. We are getting 2 pigs a week from a few different farmers, for different uses, such as fresh cuts and charcuterie. While we make charcuterie and sausage from most of the parts, every night we are roasting off a different prime cut such as porchetta, or a smoked double cut pork chop. Right now we are serving that with smoked potatoes, grilled cucumbers, and horseradish.
Why are you passionate about this style of food?
It is satisfying food that has been very carefully prepared, using all parts of the plants and animals that we can. We want the food to be satisfying and comforting, while at the same time the customer may not notice all of the work and technique that has gone into the preparation.
Can you describe the bar program?
Oro’s Bar Manager is Randy Mariani, who has experience working at Tupper & Reed and Foreign Cinema. He’s designed a cocktail menu comprised of both craft cocktails and fun twists on spirit-forward classics utilizing many ingredients made in-house such as syrups, tinctures, shrubs, infusions, and specialty ice. Highlights include the Granite Lady with cava, Cocchi Americano, dry vermouth, Strega, and lemon; the Barbary & Hearst with strawberry infused bourbon, Meyer lemon, ginger, and Old Fashioned bitters; and the 1854 with scotch, smoked Cherry Heering, Benedictine, and Sightglass coffee. To further encourage a shared dining experience, a section of the menu is dedicated to large-format cocktails that can be enjoyed amongst four or more people, such as the Octopus’s Garden with gin, Aperol, grapefruit, lemon, Peychaud’s bitters, and soda.
What do you want Oro to be known for?
We want to be known as a fun place to enjoy food and beverage. To offer an environment where food and drink is shared, and you can not only find the familiar, but maybe something adventurous as well.
What sets you apart from your neighbors or competitors?
We aren't necessarily looking to set ourselves apart or be compared to our neighbors, but to simply create a fun and delicious dining experience.
Who designed your decor? What were you going for with the space and were there any particularly trying obstacles in the process?
Oro was designed by Roddy Creedon of Allied Architecture and Design in San Francisco. The space brings together traditional sophistication with a modern industrial style. Red, blue, and gold hues highlight the 100-seat dining room and bar, reflecting back to the history of Mint Plaza, where gold coins were minted in 1854. An elegant white marble bar top makes a statement as guests enter Oro, contrasted by deep walnut tables, metal accented chairs and exposed concrete walls. A series of high top tables line the center of the bar with the main dining area toward the back. The space is further adorned with custom made chandeliers, softly muted grey curtains, reclaimed wood wall panels, and a refined wall covering set as a backdrop for their extensive rotating art program. The first local artist showcased in the series is Erin Parish.