Panta Rei

Overall Rating: 7.150

Address: 431 Columbus Ave.
Cross Street(s): Vallejo St.
City, State ZIP: San Francisco, CA 94133
Neighborhood: North Beach
Phone: 415.591.0900
Hours: Su-Sa 11:30am-12:30am
Type of Establishment: Restaurant
Cafe Rating: 7.50
Barista: 7
Savvy: 7
Ambiance: 8
Presentation: 8
Consistency: N/A
Espresso Machine: La Spaziale
Coffee Rating: 6.80
Aroma: 6
Body: 7
Brightness: 6
Crema: 7
Flavor: 7
Taster's Correction: 1.0
Size: M
Primary Taste: Pungent
Coffee Beans: Mr. Espresso
Cup Manufacturer: Glass
Price: $1.95
Last Update: 05/31/2006
First Reviewed: 05/31/2006
Notes: Outdoor Seating

This very-Italian North Beach restaurant has generally inexpensive food that's better than most of the fare in the area. Sure, there are barkers in front. But it's a great spot for people-watching ... and about the only legitimate spot in SF for watching Italian soccer on a big screen TV (take that you pathetic Steps of Rome!). Being on a sharp corner, the restaurant is wedge-shaped, with open windows all along Columbus alongside ample sidewalk dining under a blue and white awning. They use a two-group La Spaziale behind the bar to pull espresso shots that are served in measured shotglasses (though sometimes they use ceramic cups). The resulting shot is the proper size (just over the one-ounce line) and has a pale crema of decent thickness. Despite its good looks, it lacks any punch: it has a muted flavor of mild spice and some herbs. Still, a worthy stop in North Beach for some espresso, food, and classic Italian alcoholic drinks.