pasta
Photo by William Rittenhouse, courtesy of Penny Roma

Penny Roma

San Francisco
Italian Restaurant
$$$$
Available for Reservations

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The newest restaurant from Flour+Water Hospitality Group, Penny Roma has taken over the former Central Kitchen space, making use of the industrial-yet-warm interior and stunning, covered outdoor patio. Penny Roma has a slightly more casual approach than its predecessor, prioritizing classic dishes from all over Italy alongside a cozy, neighborhood vibe. The adjacent Pasta Shop also has a new enoteca menu with small bites meant to pair with their excellent wine selection (it's also a great warm up to a meal at Penny Roma). Fresh pasta, made daily in the Pasta Shop, is the star of the show here, with classic preparations like Cacio e Pepe and Agnolotti Dal Plin alongside seasonal fare, like Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli. Round out your meal with raw seafood starters, seasonal antipasti and sides, and mains including Spring Lamb with Artichokes and a Bone-In Beef Ribeye.
How to book: Reservations can be made online.

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This is a little sad to admit, but at the moment, SF doesn’t have a lot of restaurants with an electric energy that makes you feel like you’re part of something just by stepping inside. Penny Roma is an exception that makes it perfect for a lively date night. The welcoming, dimly-lit and plant-filled courtyard (with a retractable roof) gives off dinner party vibes, except your co-chefs are Thomas McNaughton and Ryan Pollnow of Flour + Water Hospitality and the fare is mouth-watering crudos, house-made pastas, and rustic Italian dishes. In a time when we’ve all existed in silos, it’s refreshing to dine somewhere that feels like more of a festive experience than “just” a delicious dinner.
How to book: Make a reservation online or walk-in—a portion of tables are held for walk-ins and the restaurant starts taking names for the waitlist at 5:30 p.m.

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We could probably just tell you that the folks behind Flour + Water have a new restaurant that’s all about classic pastas and rustic Italian fare and leave it at that since “folks behind Flour + Water” speaks volumes on its own, but just in case you need an extra push: a dinner at Penny Roma is everything you want out of a meal. A warm and inviting space in an enclosed courtyard with dim lighting and a lively atmosphere, friendly service, and a menu of nonstop hits, including some fantastic crudo (the Albacore Tartare with tomato, caper, calabrian oil, and pistachio is getting most of the accolades, but they’re all worth ordering), pastas—all made daily—like Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese and Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe—and mains, like a Grilled Trout and a Half Chicken Al Mattone—that deserve an order, as well as some of the best focaccia we’ve ever had in the city thanks to the perfect crunch to chew ratio. It’s the perfect spot for a date or a night out with friends. Just be sure to plan ahead because reservations are hard to snag. (And if you’re wondering why Flour + Water isn’t also on this list, it’s only temporarily while the restaurant is remodeled.)
How to book: online.

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