Noe Valley Voice November 2006

Store Trek

Store Trek is a regular feature of the Voice profiling new shops and cafes in Noe Valley. This month, we introduce a designer clothing outlet on 24th Street and an Italian restaurant that is part of a food renaissance on Church Street.


3789 24th Street near Church Street


There must be something about the little retail spot at 3789 24th Street that attracts vintage-fashion devotees. Even though Nisa, the address's newest clothing boutique for women, carries new clothes, the designs are inspired by vintage fashions. In July, the shop replaced Guys and Dolls, a longtime neighborhood vintage clothier, which moved to the corner of 24th and Castro streets and transformed into Vendima.

Nisa is owned by four friends, Shinobu Sering, Umay Mohammed, Ivy Chan, and Marie Biscarra. Together, they design the clothes and carry them under the Nisa label. For the fall, shoppers will find pieces like fleecy, puffy "frilly" vests in lavender or olive green ($158), sturdy "structured" skirts made of a canvas-like material ($88), and soft, violet wool sweaters ($80). Most items are in the $40 to $200 range, and there's also a sales rack of items from the spring and summer lines with 50 percent markdowns.

Vintage fans may recall that Guys and Dolls had a funky leopard-print carpet. Nisa's owners have replaced that with wood floors, painted the walls a warm, creamy white, and put in two dressing areas and fixtures. The effect brings light and airiness to the small space.

Biscarra says she and her partners feel lucky to have scored the Noe Valley location. "It's close to our main office on 19th and Guerrero, so it's really convenient for us," says Biscarra, explaining that she and her partners still work on their design creations there.

"Nisa is primarily a wholesale business," she says. "We sell nationwide and internationally."

Local shops that carry their line include Pixie Boutique on Grant Avenue, Girlstuff on Polk Street, and Behind the Post Office in the Haight. Stores in cities like New York, Seattle, and Los Angeles also sell Nisa clothing.

Their customer base is primarily women ages 18 to 50, who "have a love for long-lasting, fashionable pieces." It's no surprise then that nisa is the Arabic word for woman.

Nisa is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

--Olivia Boler


1708 Church Street near 29th Street


A new restaurant specializing in Italian seafood opened to great fanfare Sept. 26, in the spot formerly filled by the Greek restaurant Yianni's on Church Street.

Pescheria (pronounced "pesker-EE-ya"), which means "fish market" in Italian, is the most recent venture of chef Joseph Manzare--who also owns Globe, Zuppa, and Tres Agaves--and business partner Eddie Maiello.

Joining the pair is veteran restaurant manager Mario Nocifera, who comes to Pescheria from Restaurant Michael Mina on Union Square. Chef Manzare was out of town when we visited last month, so Nocifera offered to give the Voice a tour.

To evoke a Mediterranean seaside café, the owners have put in a stone floor and painted the restaurant's walls marine blue, green, and sunny yellow. They've also installed a full-service restaurant bar, which doubles as an oyster bar.

Pescheria's front dining room seats 45, but a few more patrons can dine on the back patio. "It's an urban garden," says Nocifera, with a thatched roof and small outdoor tables warmed by heat lamps. He promises that diners will be comfortable outside even on chilly days.

Nocifera also assures us we'll love the food. To perfect the menu, he says, "Joe [Manzare] traveled the entire Italian coastline. He was inspired by all the fish markets in all the little villages." That means the dishes are very fresh and simply prepared. "We let the ingredients speak for themselves."

To start, there are antipasti ($8 to $11) such as the steamer clams or the heirloom tomato salad. Nocifera also recommends the creamy polenta with Dungeness crab and garlic chives ($8). "It's very light. People really enjoy it," he says.

Another signature dish is the "Bronx-Italian" baked stuffed clams sprinkled with bread crumbs ($8). Asked what the Bronx influence might be, Nocifera laughs, "It's because Joe and Eddie are from the Bronx."

Entrees include seared scallops with a celery root puree, fennel, and olive tapenade ($19) and halibut baked in cartocio, with black salt, porcini butter, and leeks ($19). "The way the halibut cooks in the parchment, everything just blends perfectly," says Nocifera. You can also find petrale sole, salmon, and lobster, along with a selection of pastas.

Room for dessert? Try the flourless chocolate cake or a light pear tart (both $6).

Pescheria's wine list boasts approximately 70 varietals, including red, white, bubbly, and sweet. Bottles range from $26 to $100, and a dozen of those are available by the glass ($8 to $12).

If wine isn't your style, you can order a cocktail from the bar. "We have a really good cocktail list, all with a classical Italian twist," says Nocifera. He is proud of the Aqua Tonica Americana (Compari, sweet vermouth, and soda) and the Martini de Capri. All cocktails are $9.

Why did they choose Church Street for their new restaurant? "We're here to take care of our neighbors," Nocifera says, with a touch of his own small-village flavor. Then he adds, "This neighborhood feels really good. We're excited to be part of the growing importance of restaurants here in Outer Noe."

Pescheria takes reservations for dinner, but only for the main dining room. That way, they can keep seats in the patio or at the bar open for hungry passersby.

The restaurant is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.; a half an hour later on Friday and Saturday.

--Heidi Anderson