Dining At the Newly Revamped Izzy’s On the Peninsula
After a 7-month renovation, the venerable, 20-year-old Izzy’s on the Peninsula has reopened this month with an clubby, sophisticated look befitting a beloved steakhouse, plus a more expansive menu to satisfy wide-ranging appetites, and a new outdoor dining patio (set to open sometime in February).
When I was invited to dine as a guest of the restaurant last week, it had been open less than two weeks, and was already packed with diners — on a Tuesday night no less.
The family-owned, 7,500-square-foot restaurant, not far from the San Carlos Airport, is an institution that was opened by restaurateur Sam Duvall after he opened the original Izzy’s Steakhouse in San Francisco in 1987. That flagship is also undergoing renovations, including the addition of a new parklet, and is expected to reopen this summer.
Daughter Samantha Duvall Bechtel became the CEO of the restaurant group after her father passed away in 2020. He had named the restaurant for the bootlegger Isadore “Izzy” Gomez, a Portuguese immigrant, chef, and San Francisco North Beach restaurateur who infamously was jailed for 30 days after violating Prohibition, but was later pardoned.
The restaurant proudly carries not only his name, but his likeness on its silhouette logo. Maybe it’s just me, but it sure sports more than a passing resemblance to Marlon Brando in “The Godfather.”
The restaurant has two dining rooms: the front one done up with tables set with little lamps and moss-colored chairs, and the bar-lounge with a bold checkerboard floor, plush sofas, and intimate booths with towering backs for utmost privacy.
Chef Vincent Castillo, who hails from the shuttered Ruth’s Chris Steak House in San Francisco, oversees the menu, which sources steaks and chops from Creekstone Farms. In the weeks to come, look for dry-aged prime beef from Flannery Beef to be added as nightly specials.
Even after opening not long ago, service is spot-on. Whenever we inquired what was in a marinade or a sauce, our server immediately ran down the list of ingredients without having to back-pedal to the kitchen for the information.
In an era of over-the-top, wallet-busting steakhouses, Izzy’s surprises with its relatively more moderate prices. Portions are generous, too.
Bread and butter are extra here ($6) but encompass two different types of crusty bread along with “umami” butter, which gets its deep savoriness from ground dried porcini, as well as garlic and parsley.
French Dip Sliders ($25) are a fun way to get a red meat fix without making a big commitment. They come three to an order. Rosy, thinly sliced, tender prime rib is snuggled inside golden, house-made buns along with horseradish cream, and caramelized onions. A small pitcher of au jus is poured into a saucer at the table, all the better to dunk the sliders into.
The fritto misto ($19) brings a nice mix of calamari rings and tentacles, along with green olives, fennel, thinly sliced lemons, and green beans that turn especially sweet tasting, all lightly breaded and fried until wonderfully crisp. A creamy, tangy remoulade comes with to dip into.
The wedge salad ($16) is not actually a wedge of iceberg, but a half head sliced across its equator, then topped liberally with bacon bits, cherry tomatoes, crumbles of Pt. Reyes blue cheese, and crisp onion strings. The lettuce is cold and crisp, providing the perfect foil to stand up to all those garnishes. It’s a salad that can easily be shared by two, too.
The 8-ounce skirt steak ($38) gets super flavorful from the house marinade of soy sauce, maple syrup, garlic, and red and white wine.
The whole Snake River trout ($34) comes deboned and butterflied to the table, making for easy eating. A touch of paprika and fried capers dot the top, with the skin crisp and the flesh moist. A Meyer lemon butter sauce comes on the side. It’s delicious, but the fish is so tasty on its own, you might not need it.
Sides are extra at $9 each. The loaded baked potato comes hidden underneath an avalanche of sour cream, chives, and bacon bits. The mac and cheese is creamy and peppery in a sauce that’s thankfully not gloppy in the least, but very velvety.
Desserts are all $14. Don’t pass up the glazed crullers that are fried to order. Four warm ones arrive to the table glossy in a vanilla glaze with lemon zest. They’re not as puffy and hefty as those from your neighborhood donut shop, but more compact along the lines of a circular churro. They are plentiful with crispy edges all over and an airy, light texture inside.
The managers say the aim of Izzy’s is to be a place where patrons can afford to come more often than a once-in-a-blue-moon occasion. With prices and service like this already, they’re already well on their way to accomplishing that.