Best Italian Restaurants In San Francisco

August 15, 2011 11:05 AM

(William West/AFP/Getty Images)

Italian food in San Francisco is unique from other parts of the country. Because of the abundance of fine produce found nearby at local farms, chefs are being more creative in the kitchen. What is fresh and in season is what rules the day’s menu. Though restaurants here don’t scream “old world” complete with red and white checkered table cloths, the chefs respect Italian techniques and traditions while putting their own spin on things. The end product: magnificent food of the highest quality. – Joanne Boston
a16 Best Italian Restaurants In San Francisco

Burrata cheese with crostini at A16. (Joanne Boston)


2355 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA 94101
(415) 771-2216

A16 in the City’s Marina is beautiful with its open kitchen where you see the chefs working hard to feed you. The perfect beginning course is the fresh and creamy burrata cheese with crostini drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. The Neapolitan pizzas will leave you breathless with their thin crusts and succulent toppings like ricotta, tomatoes, prosciutto, and basil on the Pomodoro pizza.  

beretta Best Italian Restaurants In San Francisco

Osso buco over saffrom risotto from Beretta. (Joanne Boston)


1199 Valencia Street 
San Francisco, CA 94110 
(415) 695-1199 

 Beretta is a chic restaurant serving both season-driven food and creative cocktails. For you hungry ones, take comfort in the osso bucco over saffron risotto. Tender meat in a rich sauce that goes perfectly with the silky rice. Care for a drink? Named after the park nearby the “Dolores Park Swizzle” is a concoction of rum, lime, maraschino, absinthe, bitters. Whatever your motive is, eat or drink or both, a visit here is never wrong.  

delfina Best Italian Restaurants In San Francisco

Delfina restaurant. (


3621 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 552-4055

Delfina has quickly become the quintessential Cal-Italian restaurant. This James Beard Award-winning establishment cures its own meats, use organic produce, and base its menus on what is available from local vendors. The pappardelle in the pork sugo is rich and satisfying. Try a glass of wine which mirrors the mantra of the trattoria – Italian and Californian. 

emmys Best Italian Restaurants In San Francisco

Spaghetti and Meatballs from Emmy

Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack

3355 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 206-2086
Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack

Sometimes all you need is a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack in the Mission is literally like a shack, with the tinned-walls and aprons hanging from a clothesline running along the ceiling. The menu is limited as the kitchen is small and cozy, but the spaghetti is where it’s at. The pasta already comes mixed in with the tomato sauce, which has a great spice to it. Add three meatballs and a healthy grating of cheese and you have yourself a meal that will make any day better. 

incanto Best Italian Restaurants In San Francisco

Incanto restaurant. (Joanne Boston)


1550 Church Street
San Francisco, CA 94131
(415) 641-4500

Incanto is a restaurant made for those eaters who appreciate all parts of the animal – offal and all. Chef Chris Cosentino is a meat genius, somehow making more unattractive pieces of meat into stunning dishes. You cannot leave without trying his Boccalone salumi platter – slices of meats in their purest form. For entrées, the handkerchief pasta and rustic pork ragù is robust and wonderful while the spaghettini with Sardinian cured tuna heart, egg yolk and parsley is superb as well.

sociale Best Italian Restaurants In San Francisco

Seared scallops with mango salad at Sociale restaurant (Joanne Boston)


3665 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 921-3200

Sociale in SF’s Laurel Heights is literally a hidden gem with a discreet entrance and a restaurant façade not even visible from the street. The charming outdoor patio is perfect for dining al fresco. Too chilly? Dine in the intimate dining room where you can feast on seared scallops with mango salad or the spinach tagliatelle with Brentwood corn, toy box tomatoes, garlic, and spinach. The ingredients are so fresh and flavorful it is as if they were picked that morning. Many who frequent Sociale are hoping no one else finds it because it is a hideaway right in the middle of a busy city. 

Joanne Boston is a food blogger from San Francisco who is always on the lookout for great food. She loves hosting twEAT-ups with fellow foodies and enjoys learning about the restaurant scene in any city she visits. Catch her on her blog and on Twitter @joanneisafoodie.

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