(July 11, 1:19 p.m.) Despite decreased consumer confidence in tomatoes with the Food and Drug Administration linking a salmonella outbreak to the popular summer item, at least one high-end restaurant is highlighting tomatoes on its menu.

San Francisco’s Aqua restaurant is introducing a seven-course meal — from appetizer to dessert — featuring tomatoes.

“We definitely did have second thoughts about it, but the more we talked with our farmers, the more we were reassured about the quality of their products,” said Ron Boyd, chef de cuisine at the 16-year-old restaurant.

Boyd and Laurent Manrique, executive chef and part owner, have been buying produce for the past eight years from Full Belly Farm, Guinda, Calif., and White Crane Springs Ranch, Healdsburg, Calif., during visits to the farmers market at Pier 1 Ferry Building Marketplace.

When purchasing for the restaurant, Boyd said he focuses on organic and locally grown produce.

“When we’re thinking and collaborating on different dishes, we start at the farmers market to see what’s coming in and its availability and quality,” he said.

Each season, the restaurant features a new item, and the tomato menu will be offered July 15 to Aug. 15. For $95, patrons will be able to sample seven courses, each containing some form of heirloom tomatoes. There’s even a dessert, a tomato and Parmesan ice cream sandwich.

“We make a Parmesan ice cream and flavor it with just a little bit of tomato powder that is served with tomato pasta, made with vegetarian gelatin, and it is slightly warmed,” he said.

Despite constant media coverage of the salmonella outbreak, Boyd said he decided to feature tomatoes because nothing says summer to him more than a big, ripe tomato.

“As far as versatility, you can’t beat a tomato,” he said. “With the weather we’re having, it translates really well from course to course.”

The restaurant maintains an extensive e-mail list that includes patrons who’ve signed up to receive updates on menus.

“We sent out a blast e-mail to 10,000 customers (who) have dined with us before, and we sent some out to the press as well,” Boyd said July 9. “We’re expecting a pretty good turnout.”

San Francisco restaurant features tomato menu
"As far as versatility, you can’t beat a tomato," says Boyd. "With the weather we’re having, it translates really well from course to course."