Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until tomatoes have reduced to a light sauce, about 20 minutes. (It shouldn’t be as thick as canned tomato sauce, but still coarse, with visible tomato pieces.) Taste about halfway through and add a pinch of sugar if tomatoes taste too acidic. (Meanwhile, cook pasta.) When pasta is done, lower heat on sauce, add leftover seafoods, and cook gently just to warm them. Just before serving, correct seasonings to taste with fresh-ground black pepper and, if needed, salt, and stir in about a tablespoon of minced fresh basil, if you have it, and toss with drained pasta immediately. (To make this with raw medium shrimps and/or crabs or coarsely chopped fish, stir in the seafood when the sauce is nearly thickened, let it cook in the sauce, stirring and checking done-ness frequently. For whole clams, add a pinch of oregano to sauce at the start. Add clams when sauce is thickened and keep cooking until clams open; grind in some extra black pepper.)
Errata: In the “Year’s Best,” there were two errors, mea culpa. The Argentine restaurant cited for second-best happy hour is Puerto La Boca (India Street at Hawthorn) rather than Puerto Alegre, although those tapas certainly made my boca very alegre. And Chilango’s, too briefly back from the dead, is dead again.
- 3.5 stars
- (Very Good to Excellent)
956 Broadway Circle, downtown, 619-231-6771, dobsonsrestaurant.com.
HOURS: Lunch weekdays, 11:30 a.m.–3:00 p.m.; dinner, Monday–Wednesday 3:00–10:00 p.m.; Thursday–Saturday until 11:00 p.m., later after theater.
PRICES: Dinner starters and salads, $9–$14; pasta entrées, $16–$18; protein entrées, $21–$39; desserts, $6–$10. Three-course early-bird prix fixe, $25. Lunch sandwiches, $11–$13, other lunch prices similar to dinner.
CUISINE AND BEVERAGES: California-continental comfort food, a bit retro but not stodgy. Mainly affordable wine list (with some higher “treats”). Full bar.
PICK HITS: Mussel bisque; fried oyster salad; chicken-liver pâté; crab hash; scallop entrée. Good bets: sautéed sea bass, mustard-crusted lamb rack; linguine with clams.
NEED TO KNOW: Steep staircase to dining room. First-floor bar tables accessible and reservable for lunch or dinner but impossible for Friday lunch or dinner. (For Friday power-lunches, bar tables require one-month reservation.) Local “power-crowd” on Fridays, business-casual regular people at dinner (pre- and post-theater crowds may be dressy). Garage next door ($10); inexpensive garage at Horton Plaza across the street.