Calling all foodies that live in or are headed to San Francisco. Make sure when you are there your belly is running on empty. I’m about to dish up the 6 best Italian restaurants in San Francisco so you can start licking your lips after each taste!
San Francisco is not only picturesque and slick-fashioned in so many ways, it also offers a fabulous food epi-center. I guess I refer to it as an epi-center because it has that vibe. So much goodness packed into one area how does one choose? Now you may not think of San Francisco as a place to find the best Italian eats, but remember San Francisco ends in a vowel, she’s got to be Italian, lol!
Grab a trolley, or your car, or maybe walk (for those calories we are about to indulge in), it’s time to take on San Francisco like a true foodie. I’m ready to fill my stomach and pang for the best of in Italian eats are you? Lavishly live this episode of the 6 best Italian restaurants in San Francisco and bookmark this page, so you can try them all!
The 6 Best Italian Restaurants In San Francisco
Culinary and travel just go together like bread and butter. When I uncover a restaurant, I want to share it with the world. For now, let me share a few great eats in San Francisco. As a world traveler, I have often been offended by restaurants that claim they are Italian but serve up jarred sauce, and meek plated food that palely could be considered Italian!
However, one city that continues to surprise me is San Francisco. Good Italian food can often be hard to come by, especially when you’re visiting a city that isn’t known for its Italian cuisine, but it should be! Whether you’re local to San Francisco or just visiting, you definitely need this guide to the 6 best Italian restaurants in the city.
What I want you to know is that from budget to blow out, I’ve got you covered. I consider every angle when I dine out for culinary travel. You don’t always find the best food at the highest prices and everyone travels on a different budget. There’s truth in both of those statements, so let’s get ready to twirl our pasta on our forks and ‘suck up some food!’ San Francisco style!
Flour + Water
What do I love most? Pasta. I am a Pasta Gal, so seeing the name Flour + Water can only mean one thing to me… Pasta! First and foremost, do what I do, check them out on TripAdvisor, then if you like what you read, book them. Why?
The incredibly retro and relaxed Flour + Water has a constantly morphing menu that boats a range of delicious pasta dishes, all of which will have you wanting to return for more.
This San Francisco restaurant is KNOWN for it’s pasta dishes. Bring on the carbs, I’m in! Now, the only way to be in is to either try the tasting menu that is $65 or try out the standard 3 course meals. Of course, I want to advise that you can’t make reservations here, unless you know my secret!
Go to TripAdvisor and use the Open Table reservation system (see sneaky and perfect!) It is rumored that there are long lines but it’s worth it. Let everyone else wait in those lines, use my secret to get in and eat!
Eating at one of the trio of Original Joes is sure to be a treat. Did you know that Original Joes now have a trio of restaurants in San Francisco’s North Beach Neighborhood? Yep, it’s true because they are so popular they made it easier to access! After all more locations equals more ways to dine at them right?
Trivia About Original Joes: The first restaurant opened in 1937! Their incredible signature dishes include their “famous” Joe’s Special, the delicious Chicken Cacciatore and their amazing “baseball size” meatballs.
As an incredibly popular restaurant among locals (often named the best Italian restaurant in San Francisco), Original Joe’s is a bit of a hidden gem. With resurrected versions of classic Italian American dishes, everyone knows what their Joe’s order is before they walk in. Again, grab a seat using TripAdvisor!
About North Beach
First things first, where are you in San Francisco when you say North Beach? Does this map help you out? This particular neighborhood is also known as San Francisco’s “Little Italy” and has always been home to a huge Italian American population.
Moreover, not only is there a large Italian American population, but the area is also home to many Italian restaurants. So finding an Italian restaurant named North Beach in North Beach is just perfection!
North Beach, in San Francisco, is a small neighborhood that sits on the northeast side of the city, just opposite Chinatown and Russian Hill.
It’s hard to miss Locana as you walk through Valencia streets. In fact, you will find Locanda with its heart and soul pouring onto the street side, then into the dining room and bar. Locanda is often bustling with people, bursting at the seams, but it’s a great place to spend an evening with friends enjoying delicious Italian food and fabulous cocktails.
Insider’s Tip: If you are looking for something more relaxed, the area near the front window not only has a stunning view, but it’s much quieter.
Cotogna is not as formal as its sister restaurant, Quince (A Michelin Star restaurant) but it’s still a popular place for special occasions. The focal point, the wood-fired oven, is certainly a sight to behold as it turns out a rotating cast of pizza, spit-fired meat and the house-made focaccia bread.
The Quinoa is stupendous, don’t forget to try the bean salad, the pizza, and the tortellini. Also on a side note, the roasted chicken comes as a most requested menu item, so do try! Do know this restaurant runs on the pricier side averaging $24 a plate and no extras or sides with that. Ambiance costs!
You won’t be here for the wine list, but there are plenty of lovely beverages to choose from.
Insider’s Tip: You can ask for a pricier wine, because Cotogna shares a cellar with the more exquisite Quince.
Fiorella restaurant is a little further out of town than the others, it’s definitely worth the trek across town. Offering incredible Italian and California inspired decor that depicts the stunning bay area, this restaurant is as beautiful as it’s food is delicious.
Vegetables pervade the incredible Fiorella menu, from the delicious crispy rings of squash in sage-infused butter to the fennel-and-pepper-loaded pork fettuccine.
Do Pizza when you are here, it is a signature dish (if you can call it signature!) How do I describe their pizzas other than gorgeous pizzas. The pizzas make up the heart of the menu. Pizza is cooked in a brick oven that has been brought from Italy. Yes, Authentic Pizza.
To top off or round out the meal, choose a wine, as there are plenty to love. You can only imagine that this is the sort of place you’ll want to go back to every week.
I saved the best for last, and I have to tell you it is just plain and simple. Sometimes, all you want is a hot plate of GOOD Italian food. No fuss, no frills, just delicious food inspired by the fascinating country that is Italy.
If that’s what you’re after, a visit to Trattoria Contadina is exactly what you need. Its warm interior, wood-paneled rooms and old photos dotted around the walls are enough to make anyone feel welcome in San Francisco.
The restaurant is owned by the amazing Kevin Correnti and his wife Gina. Having been in the family since Contadina opened in 1984, they know everything they need to know about good, Italian food.
Italian Around San Francisco
So, which one will you be trying first? The quirky and famous food of Original Joe’s or the more decadent Cotogna? Maybe the homely feel of Kevin Correnti’s Contadina is more your taste? Have you ever been to San Francisco before? Did you eat at an Italian restaurant? Let us know your favorite one in the comment section down below and maybe we will add them to our next list!
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