Food & Drink

The 25 Best Italian Restaurants in San Francisco

Published On 01/13/2015 Published On 01/13/2015
Barzotto pasta
Courtesy of Kassie Borreson/Barzotto

Barzotto

Mission
The newest stud in the city’s Italian canon is a pasta bar that recently took over the (awkward feeling) St. Vincent space at the end of the Valencia corridor. Homemade pastas range from a simple spaghetti with cacio e pepe (black pepper and a mix of pecorino and parmesan), to the more unique cresta di gallo (cock’s comb) with cauliflower, chili, garlic, and, curiously, almond. The compact menu excels elsewhere -- the boards of chicken, veggies, or pork are excellent options -- but your focus will always be on the pastas. Grab a seat at the counter, overlooking the kitchen, or dine at a table and be sure to order some wine.

A16

A16

The Marina
The Campania by way of Marina (and now Oakland and Tokyo!) stalwart caused this city to transfer its Euro allegiances from France to Italy just over a decade ago. You can thank A16 for the meatball craze that forced pork belly into the cupboard during the late 2000s. You can also thank A16 for getting SF hooked on burrata with olive oil and sea salt, chocolate budino with sea salt, and blissful, not complicated but not mundane pastas like the house-favorite maccaronara with ragu Napoletana (no sea salt, but still delicious). Lastly, you can also singlehandedly thank A16 for getting us all hooked on Italian wine outside of the Chianti bubble.

Courtesy of Acquerello

Acquerello

Russian Hill/Polk Gulch
There's no denying this place is pure posh decadence. In season, there's a white truffle tasting menu that'll run ya $395, there's a regular three-courser that's much less costly (relatively speaking) at $95, but oh, the joy of the splurge for a seafood risotto and downright thrilling corn cappellacci that manage to channel the taste profile of corn more than biting into a cob. Whatever the dish, passionate diners now approve of the bold spins on Italian going on here; who doesn’t like a bourbon-caramel semifreddo? Related: who doesn't like a bourbon-caramel ANYTHING? Two decades old, Acquerello still seems as young and fresh and cool as ever.

Seven Hills

Seven Hills

Russian Hill
All the tourists on the Hyde St cable car are right to head to Seven Hills for the most iconic pasta dish in the city: the ravioli uovo. Made with brown butter, ricotta, and a liquid farm egg yolk center that explodes dramatically when punctured, it’s basically the most heart attack-inducing Italian classic dish. Seven Hills is far from a one-trick pony (octopus is a stud appetizer here) but we’ve never seen a table not order the ravioli. Seven Hills also oozes with romance, though that might just be lust for ravioli bouncing off your date’s eyes.

Aperto

Aperto

Potrero Hill
First, you squeeze inside the snug room. Then, because you're smart and cheap (no shame), you dig into the baked-in-house focaccia (or muffins for weekend brunch). Lastly, you settle in for what's going to be one of the most delicious meals you've had in awhile. Aperto would be right at home in some medieval village overlooking Tuscan vineyards. Instead, it's high atop Potrero Hill looking at the industrial gulch leading to the city skyline. With a Moretti in hand, keep an eye on red beet and ricotta ravioli and a gorgeous, fresh farro and in-season fava beans salad, then switch to pinot grigio and try some tagliolini pepati with smoky bacon, glorious butter, bitter arugula, and jalapeños.

Courtesy of Quince

Quince

FiDi/Jackson Square
Power ballers will celebrate at the spectacularly renovated Quince, which probably would be among the top five gastronomic destinations in all of Italy, not just this city. It’s now only prix fixe, which means no choices within courses, so don’t bring your picky friends. And, the interior just might be the most handsome in San Francisco, like a Pacific Heights penthouse would look we imagine. We could eat here every night... OK, we won’t go there.

Courtesy of Cotogna

Cotogna

FiDi/Jackson Square
Quince's Michael Tusk lets his hair down 20ft away at Cotogna and chances are you’ll go there more often, unless your start-up just finished a round of Series B funding. Cotogna is no second fiddle little sibling though -- sit at the counter in front of the pizza oven, the hottest seat in the city (not in terms of trendiness, but rather temperature). Not that it’s bad, but don’t get pizza: the pastas (looking at you agnolotti dal plin), the starters (constantly changing vegetable or herb sformato), and any grilled meat dish will blow you away. And should we give major props for the all-$50 by-the-bottle and all-$12 by-the-glass wine list? Maybe you’re getting a steal, maybe you’re getting screwed. But, the wine is always delightful nonetheless. Nobody likes decisions based on price after all. Except the one you'll make between Quince and Cotogna, since there is a very, very big difference.

Manzoni

Glen Park
All seems right in the world when digging into Manzoni’s rustic house-made pappardelle or a plate of oozing-with-cream burrata and salty-sharp prosciutto from Parma. Frill-free Italian dining reflects the bedroom neighborhood of Glen Park, but still manages to fill every seat in the restaurant at dinner time. Head to Manzoni’s for date night, order the tiramisu, and reflect on how Manzoni is way more San Gimignano than San Francisco.

Sasha Gulish Photography

Delfina

The Mission
Spaghetti and tomato sauce. Boring, right? Nope, not right! The plum tomatoes and a jolt of garlic at Delfina add life to idyllic, al dente pasta. The roast chicken rivals Zuni and Nopa, but Delfina’s version is maybe the best in these parts, and even more noteworthy with mashed potatoes sitting in a pint of olive oil alongside it. Delfina is a glowing San Francisco mainstay, pre-dating the $4,000 one bedroom rents and hipsters, smartphones and out of control Instagrammers, and one of the few popular restaurants in SF that's actually worth the near-mandatory table reservation 30 days in advance. Delfina is the reason we even make a list like this.

Tia Harrison/Sociale

Sociale

Presidio Heights
The outdoor patio and hidden entrance are enough to be entranced by Sociale -- but luckily the food and wine are just as majestic. The restaurant lies right at that tricky intersection of sophisticated and relaxed; it’s also right at that point of being Northern Italian and Californian. Basically, it’s the best of all worlds as you start with the burrata to start and finish with the chocolate oblivion cake (topped with olive oil, sea salt, and amaretti cookie crumbles). Pay attention to the special dishes of the day as they’re often the highlights of the menu.

Grace Munnee/Fiorella

Fiorella

Outer Richmond
This restaurant is a New York-Cali-Ital dream team in a quiet, constantly foggy neighborhood. Its owners worked with Mario Batali and at Brooklyn’s definitive neighborhood restaurant, Franny’s, while recently added Chef Dante Cecchini is well-known from his days at Marlowe. Now he’s proving that pastoral Italian grandma’s cooking can be invigorating -- just try the al dente chitarra pasta and tomato braised chicken that, in other hands, could be boring. If the clam pizza doesn’t wow you, the family-friendly atmosphere might make Fiorella the happiest place in the city.

Locanda

The Mission
It’s not easy being the younger brother, especially if the older sibling is the hotshot QB of the Cal-Ital scene, Delfina. Rome-centric offshoot Locanda is no disappointing expansion move, however. The Rome specialties, like Jewish-style artichokes and a soulful bowl of tripe, are legit studs when compared to their peers in the actual city of Rome (trust us). The pasta is consistently spot-on al dente and the bar mixes darn fine Amaro-based cocktails to round out the deal. Note that brunch is also excellent (and no lines in the Mission!), something we don’t usually think of with Italian spots.

Flour + Water

Flour + Water

The Mission
You'll need to get your pasta vocabulary sheet out when you drop by Flour + Water, still home to one of the most consistently long lines in the city, and arguably still home to the best pizza in town. Pici with smoked hen and Buddha’s Hand, carrot, and caprino caciotti triangoli -- whatever it is, just eat it. Oh, and about the long line: you'll just have to deal with it, 'cause this spot hasn’t missed a beat in its young life. It’s rocking and rolling as much as ever. The game plan: put your name down, go get a drink across the street at Trick Dog, then get ready to choose between a la carte or the blockbuster pasta tasting menu.

La Ciccia

Noe Valley
Bottarga! Glorious bottarga. This delicious fish roe, salted and cured, is served at La Ciccia with spaghetti. The roe is basically a cross of uni and bacon in powder form. In other words: heaven. It’s the signature fishy seasoning of Sardinia that packs the flavor power of anchovy without the salty-briny sea sickness making you look green on land. La Ciccia is Sardinia’s culinary ambassador to our city, representing the oft-neglected island over 200 miles west of the Italy mainland, where you’d run into the coast just due West of Rome as the direct crow flies. Only in San Francisco is the most popular Italian restaurant a Sardinian restaurant. And you know a huge reason, why? Bottarga.

Alessandro DeSogos/La Nebbia

La Nebbia

Noe Valley
Young offspring La Nebbia doesn’t traffic so much in Sardinia as it does in just being super Italian. They’ve got excellent pizzas and pastas, plus salumi flights that'll help you answer the age-old question "what's the difference of prosciutto di Parma and prosciutto di San Daniele?" Our favorite gnocchi of the moment is being served up here and that’s saying something. Is this why homes go for $5 million in Noe Valley? We say yes.

Eric Wolfinger/Perbacco

Perbacco

Financial District
Perbacco’s sugo, cooked for five hours, coating tajarin noodles is what FiDi lunch dreams are made of. But the showstopper of a FiDi lunch (or dinner) is Perbacco’s agnolotti dal plin, snugly filled with roasted meats and Savoy cabbage -- the best use of cabbage outside of corned beef on St. Paddy's Day. That’s where the Irish pub comparisons end. Perbacco is a beacon of San Francisco power dining without the attitude. It’s also the rare Italian restaurant where the secondi should be a mandatory order.

Emmy's Spaghetti Shack

Bernal Heights
Not every Italian restaurant has pastas you’ve never heard of or the exquisite pedigreed heirloom vegetables and happily slaughtered pigs. What Emmy’s does, it does really, really well -- decent spaghetti and meatballs in a casual, if not rowdy, atmosphere. Here, you talk loudly because the table next to your is screaming and the menu could have been designed with crayons. Don’t think too hard -- order garlic bread then spaghetti with three fist-size ‘balls for just under $15. Emmy’s gets bonus points for serving zoodles (zucchini noodles), that famous dish that makes amateur home cooks feel like they made their own pasta but didn’t.

Eric Wolfinger/Barbacco

Barbacco

Financial District
Barbacco, the younger sibling of Perbacco, is not Perbacco’s bar. Let’s get that cleared up. Barbacco is its own casual, contemporary space a few doors down, dishing out braised chicken thighs, lights-out salumi platters, and little bruschetta canapés. In the summer, Barbacco offers the best ice cream/gelato anywhere in the Financial District. Grab one on the go if you’re a constantly-on-the-run worker bee.

Piccino

Piccino

Dogpatch
Oh, the bright yellow house. Whether you're taking off from SFO or driving by at 90mph on 280, you can't miss it. On the foggiest of days, it’s the most sunshine-filled spot in the most sunshine-filled neighborhood in town. And inside, it’s downright utopian. There are very fine pizzas and pastas here, along with a flat-out esoteric but delightful wine list that includes at least five countries you’ve probably never heard of. The move, though, is the first menu section -- any salad (YES SALAD) and the best meatballs in the city. Oh, yes we just said that. Just order the polpette.

Ristobar

Ristobar

The Marina
Desserts are afterthoughts at the majority of Italian restaurants unfortunately, but that is vehemently not true at Ristobar. Don’t skip them. Gary Rulli of Emporio Rulli renown almost invites you to skip the primi and double up on his wondrous sweets later. Almost (the homemade pasta shall not be ignored under any circumstance). Yes, we’re actually recommending that you order the tiramisu here. Generally, tiramisu has all the pleasure of a 3.0 Uber surge pricing but this is cream-coffee cake bliss that tiramisu dreams of being. Then again, the Bay Area has known for decades already what an Italian pastry maestro Rulli is. The fact that he has a start to finish excellent restaurant is almost overwhelming.

Trevor Felch/Thrillist

SPQR

Lower Pac Heights/ Fillmore
In the early days, SPQR was A16’s forgotten sibling dedicated to the Senatus Populusque Romanus, also known as Ancient Rome. Cool. Then Matthew Accarrino arrived and conquered the creative Italian narrative with Caesar-like gusto. Now you get a tour de force of pasta artistry that has ignited a storm of followers nationwide. Cocoa strozzapreti (yes pasta made with cocoa!) graces your table, as do pasta species you’ve never heard of like bludnudlen or pansotti. The real #awesomerestaurantissues problem is the #fomo that is far worse at SPQR than anywhere else on this list. Every one of the dozen pastas is excellent. But, the same is said for the 12-15 non-pasta dishes, too. Get the chicken liver pâté for sure, bombolini to close and lighten up with brassicas and grains (not Italian really but still fantastic recurring dish). Yep, Caesar didn’t eat this well. Bonus: if you’re not a brunch person, SPQR actually does weekend LUNCH.

Uve Enoteca

Uva Enoteca

Lower Haight
Brunch is noteworthy at Uva -- where $15 gets you two and a half hours of bottomless Bellinis and you can choose from traditional egg breakfasts or pasta and pizza -- but Uva really hits its stride in the pizza-pasta-secondi-dessert-bottles-of-wine type of dinner. Order a pizza with kale, house-made fennel sausage, garlic, basil, pecorino, mozzarella, or a simple, flavorful pasta alongside a glass from Uva’s extensive wine list. If you’d like to walk home without an Italian food baby, enjoy some crostini, a salad, and a glass of wine. Regardless of your meal structure, Uva is an oasis of civility in a stretch known for sports bro beer bars.

Trattoria Contadina

Trattoria Contadina

North Beach
A good rule of thumb when scouting Italian restaurants is to avoid Little Italy neighborhoods at all costs. North Beach is no exception. But just a few blocks off the main Columbus thoroughfare, in-the-know locals frequent this definitive trattoria that looks like a clubby steakhouse. You’re not getting a porterhouse here, though. Rather, you're going to dig into gnocchi bathing in tomato cream sauce and the "Pavarotti" -- a cavalry of fusilli with chicken and prosciutto. Skip the starters -- pasta is your main agenda here. Your other priority: this place is nirvana for Negroni nerds with their countless variations of the seemingly simple three-ingredient cocktail.

Liguria Bakery

North Beach
The daunting (and delicious) choice at Liguria is focaccia plain or kind-of-but-not-really tomato sauce-splashed pizza. Or not plain and instead with raisins. Or onions! Eh, just stick with plain; you can't go wrong. Or don't, you can't go wrong there either. Just don't expect reliable hours or to pay with a credit card.

Flickr/jen

Victoria Pastry Co

North Beach
Focaccia in hand, count the 159 steps to Victoria’s door for cannoli. And biscotti. And tiramisu. And about 20 other cookies from the 100-year-old Sicilian bakery (literally hit the century mark last year). Oh, and Washington Square is right behind you for your DIY Italian al fresco picnic. Fate? I think so.

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1. A16 2355 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123 (The Marina)

More than any other restaurant, this Campania by way of Marina stalwart helped transform San Francisco into an Italian-crazed city a decade ago. A typical night at A16 starts with burrata, includes a few orders of the Neapolitan-style pizzas and infamous pork meatballs, and ends with a cheese plate. Add Shelley Lindgren's wine program, which wins dozens of awards yearly, and you've got one of the best pizza, pasta, and wine combos in the city by the bay.

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2. Acquerello 1722 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94109 (Russian Hill)

For more than two decades, Acquerello has been serving high-end Italian cuisine and wine in a converted Nob Hill chapel. Far from an old-school red sauce joint, the Michelin-starred restaurant is pure posh decadence. There are a few tasting menus available, either a three-course prix fixe or the truffle-heavy seasonal one, and both are well worth the splurge. Just make sure you save room for dessert.

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3. Aperto 1434 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94107 (Potrero Hill)

Perched atop Potrero Hill, Aperto is a snug, neighborhood restaurant whose Italian food and and skyline view will make you wish it was your neighborhood spot. Start the night with pesto and a mozzarello-filled arancini (fried balls of risotto) before indulging in rich taglioni pepati with smoky bacon, butter, bitter arugula, and dots of jalapenos or an impressive milk-braised pork loin. A simple, all-Italian wine list plays the perfect accompaniment.

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4. Quince Restaurant 470 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133 (Jackson Square)

Quince, in operation for more than a decade, offers an always original blend of seasonal Italian and French cuisine shepherded under the vision of owner and executive chef Michael Tusk. The quaint eatery's modern, luxurious layout takes enjoyment of your Michelin-starred meal to another level.

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5. Cotogna 490 Pacific Ave., San Francisco, CA 94133 (Jackson Square)

20-feet from white-table-clothed-Quince in the Financial District, Michael Tusk gets casual at Cotogna with fresh, seasonal antipasti, traditional Italian pasta, pizzas, and proteins straight from the brick oven, and simple sweets and sides. Take a seat in front of the wood-fired oven to watch the cooks prepare your meal, sit across from your date at one of the intimate tables, or share a communal table with the neighborhood folks. Get the pasta's (we’re looking at you, raviolo filled with a luscious runny egg) and any grilled lamb, pork, or fish dish. The accessible wine list (all $50 by-the-bottle and $12 by-the-glass) and reasonably priced menu makes this a perfect low-key yet impressive date spot.

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6. Delfina 3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Open since 1998, Delfina is credited for putting the Mission on the map as San Francisco's epicenter for innovative, critically-acclaimed dining. The Italian menu is wonderfully simple and undeniably satisfying. Case in point is the signature dish: spaghetti with plum tomatoes, garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, and pepperoncini. The unassuming small space is packed to the brim every night with neighborhood regulars and culinary-minded tourists.

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7. Flour + Water 2401 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

The pizza and pasta at Thomas McNaughton's Mission gem has consistently attracted a full house since opening in 2009. The Neapolitan-style pies are nothing short of excellent, and though the flavors change daily, you can expect a classic Margherita and meatier pizzas like salumi with Mangalitsa pancetta, stracciatella, broccoli rabe & Calabrian chili. And then there's the pasta. In a perfect world, you'd try each one on the menu and luckily, Flour + Water has a pasta tasting menu.

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8. La Ciccia 291 30th St, San Francisco, CA 94131

Although San Francisco offers a never-ending supply of Italian eateries, none will feel quite as authentic as La Ciccia. This rustic, Noe Valley spot is Sardinia’s culinary ambassador to the city, boasting a cuisine specific to that Mediterranean island. Traditional entrees include fregola with sea urchin and smoked pancetta, a glorious bottarga (salt-cured fish roe), and, for dessert, truta de arrescottu: Sardinian ricotta and saffron cake with honey and toasted almond.

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9. La Nebbia 1781 Church St, San Francisco, CA 95357 (Noe Valley)

This Italian spot has pizza coated in squid ink, raisins, nuts, and anchovies, plus salumi flights with prosciutto di Parma and prosciutto di San Daniele.

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10. Perbacco 230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111 (Financial District)

The competition is tough for the best Italian restaurants in San Francisco, and this FiDi stalwart routinely falls in the top five. The menu is filled with Piedmontese specialities, which means house-cured salami, creamy al dente pastas, and red wines. Perbacco is formal enough to wear a tie, casual enough for a first date, and has a lunch menu that warrants a power lunch.

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11. Barbacco 220 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111 (Financial District)

Designed as a more casual complement to its next-door sister restaurant, Perbacco, this Italian eatery was inspired by a small trattoria in a town on Italy’s Ligurian coast. Owned and run by a group that includes Italians and Swedes, Barbacco is known for its lasagna, meatballs, and Brussels sprouts. Stop by for lunch or dinner, or opt for catering if you need to feed a frenzy of hungry friends.

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12. Piccino Cafe 1001 Minnesota St, San Francisco, CA 94107 (Dogpatch)

Just one of the several, uncharted neighborhood gems in the oft-forgotten Dogpatch, Piccino's is a local spot boasting a range of seasonal Italian fare. Among creative, thin-crust pizzas -- such as the datteri, made with cauliflower, dates, Taleggio, and olive tapenade -- the menu also delivers light salads and homey, Old World entrees. And, as any Italian restaurant should, Piccino boasts an impressive wine list and coffee bar.

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13. Ristobar 2300 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123 (The Marina)

The Marina’s Ristobar delivers upscale pizza, pasta, and other Italian favorites under a stunning painted ceiling. Outdoor seating allows for Italian wine under the stars with a side of crisp bruschetta topped with juicy tomatoes and pillowy mozzarella, while long tables inside stylishly accommodate groups. The weekend brunch crowd also loves Ristobar for their sophisticated mid-morning cocktails and savory Italian benedict with ciabatta bread and prosciutto.

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14. SPQR 1911 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115 (Pacific Heights)

In the early days, SPQR was A16’s forgotten sibling, but then Matthew Accarrino arrived and conquered the creative Italian narrative with Caesar-like gusto. Now you get a Michelin-starred tour de force of pasta artistry that has ignited a storm of followers nationwide. Bucatini “straw and hay” graces your table, as do pasta species you’ve never encountered made with cacao nib or Meyer lemon. Get the chicken liver pâté and something with pig ear, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, go for the pasta tasting menu (that’s five courses of, you guessed it, pasta).

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15. Trattoria Contadina 1800 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94133 (North Beach)

Just a few blocks off the main Columbus thoroughfare, in-the-know locals frequent this definitive trattoria that looks like a clubby steakhouse -- not for a porterhouse, but for gnocchi bathing in tomato cream sauce and the famous Pavarotti.

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16. Liguria Bakery 1700 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133 (North Beach)

This family-owned corner bakery in North Beach has been baking its speciality focaccia since 1911. As the story goes, Liguria's flat bread is made from a secret recipe brought over from Genoa by the original family patriarch. The bread is baked in an ancient brick oven, then sliced into rectangular sheets, wrapped in white paper, and tied up with twine. You can't go wrong with the plain focaccia, or the olive one, or the raisin one, or the onion one. Take our word, they're all good.

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17. Victoria Pastry Co 700 Filbert St, San Francisco, CA 94133 (North Beach)

Known for its desserts, this family-owned business has served the North Beach community since 1914. From cannoli to cream puffs, everything Victoria Pastry Company makes satisfies your sweet tooth and is easy on the eyes. There’s seating available inside, but this is also a great place to grab food for a picnic in Washington Square Park.

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18. Uva Enoteca 568 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Lower Haight)

Uva's happy hour is pretty stellar for a classier wine bar. If things get too rowdy, order one of their meat & cheese plates and simmer down.

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19. Sociale 3665 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94118 (Presidio Heights)

The outdoor patio and hidden entrance are enough to be enticed by Sociale -- but luckily the food and wine are just as majestic. The restaurant lies right at that tricky intersection of sophisticated and relaxed; it’s also right at that point of being Northern Italian and Californian. Basically, it’s the best of all worlds as you start with the burrata to start and finish with the chocolate oblivion cake (topped with olive oil, sea salt, and amaretti cookie crumbles). Pay attention to the special dishes of the day as they’re often the highlights of the menu.

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20. Barzotto 1270 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

This pasta-focused restaurant serves a variety of house-made pastas, from simplistic classics like spaghetti and cacio e pepe to the more unique cresta di gallo (cock’s comb) with cauliflower, chili, garlic, and, curiously, almond. The compact menu excels elsewhere -- the boards of chicken, veggies, or pork are excellent options -- but your focus will always be on the pastas. Grab a seat at the counter, overlooking the kitchen, or dine at a table and be sure to order some wine.

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21. Locanda 557 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Younger brother to game-changing Italian stalwart Delfina, Locando's a bustling osteria and bar that's earned a following of its own thanks to flawlessly fried Jerusalem artichokes and a thoughtful amaro-heavy cocktail program that get things started before you move onto the show-stopping selection of pastas (don't miss the cacio e pepe) and grill selections like Berkshire pork saltimbocca.

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22. Emmy's Spaghetti Shack 3230 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (Bernal Heights)

Emmy's keeps its service and menu simple and unfussy, so expect nothing more than decent spaghetti and meatballs in a casual, if not rowdy, atmosphere. Here, you talk loudly because the table next to you is screaming and the menu could have been designed with crayons. Don’t think too hard, just order garlic bread then spaghetti with three fist-size ‘balls.

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23. Fiorella 2339 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121 (The Richmond)

This restaurant is a New York-Cali-Ital dream team in a quiet, constantly foggy neighborhood. Its owners worked with Mario Batali and at Brooklyn’s Franny’s, while chef Dante Cecchini is well-known from his days at Marlowe. He’s proving that pastoral Italian grandma’s cooking can be invigorating -- just try the al dente chitarra pasta and tomato braised chicken that, in other hands, could be boring. If the clam pizza doesn’t wow you, the family-friendly atmosphere might make Fiorella the happiest place in the city.

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24. Manzoni 2790 Diamond St, San Francisco, CA 94131 (Glen Park)

All seems right in the world when digging into Manzoni’s rustic house-made pappardelle or a plate of oozing-with-cream burrata and salty-sharp prosciutto from Parma. Frill-free Italian dining reflects the bedroom neighborhood of Glen Park, but still manages to fill every seat in the restaurant at dinner time. Head to Manzoni’s for date night, order the tiramisu, and reflect on how Manzoni is way more San Gimignano than San Francisco.

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25. Seven Hills 1550 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109 (Russian Hill)

Tourists on the Hyde Street cable car head right to Seven Hills for the most iconic pasta dish in the city: the ravioli uovo. Made with brown butter, ricotta, and a liquid farm egg yolk center that explodes dramatically when punctured, it’s basically the most heart attack-inducing Italian classic dish. Seven Hills is far from a one-trick pony (octopus is a stud appetizer here) but we’ve never seen a table not order the ravioli. Seven Hills also oozes with romance, though that might just be lust for ravioli bouncing off your date’s eyes.