Best Italian Restaurants in San Francisco

Posted Mar 22nd 2011 05:00 PM

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best italian restaurants in san francisco

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San Francisco is arguably one of the best cities in America in which to dine. It's the city that, with the help of Alice Waters, spawned the concept of local and seasonal eating that has revolutionized dining in America. The only drawback about San Francisco is that it can be nearly impossible choosing a place to eat because they're all remarkably good. Here to help you wean the choices down by cuisine, here's a list of some of the best Italian restaurants in San Francisco.


A16 (2355 Chestnut St.): The quintessential Italian spot (and one of the City's best restaurants overall), A16 is a crowd pleaser. Pizzas with perfectly crispy thin crusts, a bevvy of house-cured meats and pastas made by hand. The squid ink tonnarelli with sea urchin, calabrian chiles, fennel and tomato is rich without being heavy, the chiles cutting the umami of urchin. The wine list is extensive and has good finds at all price ranges.

Delfina (3621 18th St.): Located in the pretty Mission District, this beloved spot has won many accolades. Craig Stoll, chef and co-owner, cooks simple dishes using seasonal ingredients. Grilled calamari over a warm white bean salad or a shortrib cappellatti gremolata are sure to hit the "simple yet satisfying" spot in your stomach. The wine list is carefully curated with bottles from smaller vineyards and several great options for those on a budget and keep an eye on the dessert wines: a glass of moscato d'Asti would go perfectly with that black pepper panna cotta with reduced blood oranges.

Incanto (1550 Church St.): Located in the ever trendy Noe Valley, Incanto lives up to the hype of it's neighborhood. Chef Chris Cosentino, formerly of Chez Panisse, like many of the other chefs on this list, uses local ingredients and the menu here changes daily for it. The dining room is rustic chic; lots of wood and warm mud-colored walls with fresh accents and tall windows. With over twenty wines by the glass you can arrange pairings with your own courses. Olives and Iberico ham would be a perfect beginning to your meal. Move to duck confit or sweetbreads with fresh yet hearty sides and perhaps finish off with a sweetly warm budino with marscapone.

Perbacco Ristorante + Bar (230 California St.): In a gorgeous bi-level space that somehow feels both cozy and spacious, mixing antiques with modern touches, chef Staffan Terje is producing some of the most authentic Italian food the west coast has ever seen. Starting with house-cured salami and a variety of cheese, you can't miss the salame cotto d'asti. Braised snails are kicked up with a spring garlic salsa verde and vitello tonnato is classically done with a lemon and albacore tuna sauce with capers. The lamb shoulder, however, steals the show. Milk-braised with an artichoke and fennel salad, you'd be forgiven if you didn't save room for dessert, but if you can, split the bomboloni filled with rhubarb and apple with honey-walnut sauce.

Quince (470 Pacific Ave.): Located in a pretty landmark building in San Francisco's Jackson Square, Quince is where you go if you want refined food in a sunny Northern California atmosphere. Using only local purveyors, the chef, Michael Tusk, brings together the items for some glorious tasting menus. Dungeness crab souffle and olive parpardelle with guinea hen are standouts. With over 800 bottles, the wine list is expansive and the sommelier will expertly show you to something that suits your meal.

Filed Under: Best Of, Food + Drink

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