Marlena, San Francisco-09/18/2021


Marlena is a cozy neighborhood restaurant located in a quaint corner in Bernal Heights in San Francisco and is the brain child of husband-and-wife chef team David Fisher and Serena Chow Fisher, which opened it’s doors late summer of 2020 and during the pandemic.  Starting with park-friendly picnic baskets and rolling into an affordable prix fixe on the weekend to getting a Michelin Star within a year.

Executive chef Fisher and pastry chef Chow met while working at restaurants in New York City. Fisher’s resume includes two Michelin-starred destination Jean-Georges, while Chow worked at three Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park. They moved to the Bay Area two years ago, both landing at Palo Alto fine dining establishment Bird Dog before Fisher split off to Pacific Heights Italian spot Sorrel and Chow to German bakery Backhaus in San Mateo.

Fisher grew up in upstate New York, where his parents owned a mom-and-pop breakfast-and-lunch spot, and Marlena is named in honor of his late mother. Chow grew up in San Mateo and both chefs always wanted to open their own restaurant. The opportunity came during the pandemic while hanging out with friends in a park,  they happened to spot the corner of their soon-to-be restaurant, a hundred year old building filled with bay windows and natural light.  The neighborhood is amazing, the park is amazing, the building itself has such a great structure.  With a shoe box budget they managed to update and remodel their new restaurant by getting help from their family.


The front of the restaurant


The entrance of the restaurant. Ramzi is the managing Partner. Ha and Trung befriended him while eating at Marlena and we were treated very well.


We are checking in with Ramzi before entering the restaurant.

Vaccination proof is required for dinning in San Francisco.


Curbside outdoor seating


It is covered and with heaters so it should be comfortable to dine outdoor during the cold months.



A quick view on the inside of the restaurant looking from the outside.


Marlena’s dining room, with its muted blue color scheme and open kitchen reminded me of Stones Throw (now defunct restaurant).


The open kitchen concept on the left with both chefs standing at the counter.


The menu was designed by one of Chef Chow's friends.


The Main attraction is the incredible prix-fixe menu and it by the way that is the only option to choose.  At $65 per person, the price for the tasting menu is on the lower end of what you will see at other San Francisco restaurants, especially for a 1 Michelin star restaurant.

It is a 4 courses, with two options at every turn.  Some dishes are tweaked almost daily, and the whole menu changes out every few weeks.


View of the restaurant from our table.

The vibe is cozy, friendly, and relax atmosphere.


The restaurant is spaced out nicely and the enormous green plant arrangement in the middle of the restaurant looks exactly like at Stones Throw.






Chef Chow on the left and chef Fisher on the right.

This area used to be a bar but it is now converted into a platting station.  Chef Chow told us the counter is small so she can only plate for 6 people maximum.

We asked if we could book a table for 12 and she told us that the maximum is for 6 people per service as she does not have enough room to bring out the food for 12 people at once.


Our server is still in training and he is good for most of the evening.


Beringer courtesy of Trung and Ha.


Next.... Seasonal 4 course tasting menu





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