Central Kitchen, in the Mission, specializes in thoughtfully prepared, locally sourced Northern California cuisine. "I firmly believe that people go to a restaurant to be taken care of," says chef and partner Thomas McNaughton. "And an off-the-menu item is a little way of saying, ‘We’re going to take care of you.’" His off-menu special is a pasta: a braised short rib agnolotti with roasted maitake mushrooms, pine nuts, and — how could you not love? —finely grated smoked beef jerky. Because customers, McNaughton learned, always want pasta (and probably also beefy jerky).
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