Noe Valley Voice February 2008

Store Trek

By Lorraine Sanders

Store Trek is a regular feature of the Noe Valley Voice, profiling new stores and businesses in Noe Valley. This month, we introduce a health and wellness clinic at Sanchez and 23rd streets, and a new restaurant run by a family that's owned businesses in the neighborhood for over two decades.

3782 24th Street between Church and Chattanooga streets

If there is one thing Noe Valley's newest eatery has in large supply, it's family. Three generations of Bassos can be found working under one roof at Basso's Restaurant, which opened in mid-December in the former Cybelle's Pizza space at the corner of 24th and Church streets.

Brothers Wayne and Gaetano Basso and Wayne's sons Tommy and Angelo Basso own and operate the dining establishment, and Tommy's daughter Laura works there as well. While it may be the first neighborhood joint to carry the Basso name, the restaurant is only the latest Basso family business to arrive in Noe Valley. Wayne has owned and operated Noe's Bar, which is connected to the restaurant, since opening it in 1982. In 1989, Gaetano opened a restaurant that effectively turned Noe's Bar into Noe's Bar and Restaurant. Gaetano sold that venture to Cybelle's in 1997.

Though the new restaurant has the same location as Gaetano's former restaurant and includes pizza on the menu, Basso's bears little resemblance to its predecessors, in either appearance or cuisine.

"We literally tore most of the building down to the studs," says Gaetano, who estimates that the family spent close to seven months renovating the interiors.

Where pinball machines and sports memorabilia once dominated the decor, a semi-private dining space and lounge area now connects Noe's Bar to Basso's casually refined dining room, outfitted with mustard- and cranberry-hued walls hung with Basso family photographs.

The menu is another departure from the past.

"The misconception is that we're [only] Italian. Our prime focus is our Niman Ranch natural beef products.... And we do pride ourselves on having a, albeit small, well-thought-out wine list," Gaetano says.

For neighborhood carnivores, the restaurant serves steaks in a variety of cuts, including a New York steak, two filet mignons, a 21-ounce porterhouse, and a 16-ounce T-bone ($21.50 to $34). Along with a fresh seafood catch of the day and pasta dishes like capellini with smoked salmon in a brandy cream sauce, specials like veal osso bucco (Thursdays) and crab cioppino (Fridays) are among the steak alternatives.

Specialties from chef Antonio May, who started his restaurant industry career with the Bassos back in 1992 and currently also holds down the fort at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's Caffe Museo, range from the house-prepared ravioli to the banana chocolate bread pudding, served with crème anglaise.

Along with 11 wines by the glass ($6 to $14), the restaurant offers a selection of upscale cocktails ($6 to $8), including a Maker's Mark Manhattan and a Campari Cosmo. Cocktails are also available in the adjacent bar, as is the restaurant's entire menu.

Despite the cafe's transformation, one fixture from Cybelle's does remain.

"We only have pizza now because we couldn't get rid of the machine," Gaetano laughs, referring to the steel behemoth of an oven that dominates the semi-open kitchen.

Basso's gourmet 12-inch pizzas ($10.95 to $14.95) are Neapolitan-style, with thin crusts and toppings ranging from exotic prosciutto and pear to classic Italian sausage and mushrooms.

In addition to being Noe Valley's first steakhouse, Basso's is doing one other thing other local eateries are not: keeping the kitchen open late.

The restaurant welcomes patrons 9 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturday. (Brunch is served on weekends.)

"In the old days, there were lots of restaurants, all kinds of places [in San Francisco] open that late," Wayne recalls as he explains the reasoning behind Basso's later-than-usual hours. "Come in one minute to 12, and you'll get served."

Noe Valley Clinic
3901 23rd Street at Sanchez Street

Step into the serene confines of the Noe Valley Clinic, and you might mistakenly think you'd wandered into a day spa instead of a neighborhood doctor's office. A wood-paneled waiting area features inviting leather seats, slick track lighting, and walls hung with art by expressionistic painter Ross Lindsay.

"A lot of the look and feel is designed to be more aesthetically pleasing to patients," explains clinic owner Tom Lee, who also owns the Metropolitan Medical Group on Sutter Street and plans to open a third clinic in the Embarcadero Center this month.

But the attractive interiors of this neighborhood newcomer, which officially opened at the corner of 23rd and Sanchez streets on Nov. 10, aren't the only thing that sets this healthcare provider apart from a traditional medical practice.

On top of insurance copayments, patients pay the clinic an additional annual fee ($129). In return, patients receive perks like same-day appointment scheduling, longer doctor-patient consultations, email access to doctors and health records, an online prescription refill service, and the benefit of non-physician, in-house healthcare providers who offer a bevy of additional services, from acupuncture to nutritional counseling.

"We have a half-hour to sit down and talk and come up with a treatment plan that works for [the patient]," says lead clinician Jade Schechter, M.D.

Along with Schechter and the clinic's other physician, Jenny-Viva Collisson, the in-house team consists of nutritionist Julie Matthews, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine practitioners Michelle Kuroda and Jeannie Bianchi, nurse practitioner Valerie Sobel, and naturopathic healthcare providers Shaila Schwartz and Alex Tan.

Instead of the traditional referral method, the clinic aims to meet more of a patient's needs under one roof.

"It's a different service philosophy," Lee says.

The clinic specializes in general preventive and acute medical care for adults and accepts Medicare and most PPO and HMO health insurance plans. Uninsured adults who pay the clinic's membership fee will pay $80 per visit, while non-members pay $125 per visit.

The Noe Valley Clinic is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Early morning and evening hours are available by appointment.