The Best Italian Restaurants In SF

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From the old-school trattorias of North Beach to the pizzerias with cult followings in the Richmond, there is no shortage of Italian food in San Francisco. In fact, there are so many sensational Italian eateries, it could be argued that it’s the city’s most preferred type of cuisine. Narrowing down all the places we love was difficult, but we did it. Here are seven of our favorite Italian restaurants in SF.

Squab-filled saffron pasta rotolo with pink apple, Brussels sprout and turmeric root at SPQR
Squab-filled saffron pasta rotolo with pink apple, Brussels sprout and turmeric root at SPQR

SPQR

For the past decade, SPQR (which stands for Senatus Populusque Romanus and translates to “The People and Senate of Rome”) has been serving otherworldly pasta on Fillmore Street. Chef Matthew Accarrino is a pasta genius who crafts unique handmade pastas with innovative ingredients. Think smoked fettuccini, cocoa cappellacci, and black trumpet mushroom cannelloni. If you have the chance to try his pasta tasting menu, do it. You won’t be disappointed.


Cotogna's pasta
Cotogna’s pasta

Cotogna

Cotogna is chef Michael Tusk’s rustic wood-fired restaurant. Think of it as Quince’s little sister. The cuisine is seasonal, traditional, and always delicious. Order spit-roasted meats, perfectly cooked pizzas, and delicate pastas. On Sundays, Tusk serves a four-course family-style meal. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and it’s almost always packed. Our favorite things to order? Oven-roasted clams, prosciutto and asparagus pizza, raviolo with farm egg and browned butter, and gnocchi with braised pork and sage.


La Ciccia's calamari salad with olives, celery, and Radishes
La Ciccia’s calamari salad with celery

La Ciccia

La Ciccia is a gem of a restuarant in Noe Valley. It’s owned by an Italian couple who take their Sardinian food incredibly seriously. The all-Italian wine list contains over 180 labels and the menu is written in Italian, so dining there is like being transported to Italy. Seafood is the thing to order and you can’t go wrong with baby octopus stew in spicy tomato sauce, fresh linguine with squid ink, or seared prawns in a rich tomato sugo.


A spread of Tosca's pasta dishes
A spread of food at Tosca

Tosca Cafe

No SF-based Italian food round up is complete without a mention of a restaurant in North Beach. Although the price of rent is forcing many of the old-school mom-and-pop Italian eateries to shutter, one standby remains—Tosca Cafe. In 2013, the 96-year old Tosca was given a modern refresh and new menu by April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman. Today, you’ll find flavorful pastas, delectable appetizers, and an insanely-delicious roast chicken. Also on the menu? Craft cocktails and a superb wine list.


Flour + Water's pizza
Flour + Water’s pizza

Flour + Water

At Flour + Water in the Mission District, chef Thomas McNaughton makes memorable pasta dishes. His agnolotti dal plin, pillowy tiny ravioli filled with earthy meat, are to die for. The decor is rustic and the environment hip. McNaughton is not only an excellent pasta maker, but he also specializes in charcuterie, so if you’re in the mood for salumi, you came to the proper place. What else to order? Delectable pizza topped with the aforementioned artisanal pork products and contorni—Italian side dishes—such as charred rutabaga and bacon-glazed carrots.


A charcuterie platter at A16
A charcuterie platter at A16

A16

Whether you’re there late on a weeknight or celebrating an anniversary on a weekend, you can’t go wrong with A16’s fantastic food and wine. Award-winning sommelier Shelley Lindgren has selected the stellar wines that pair wonderfully with everything that the kitchen has to offer. There is roasted calamari with potato, pizza with creamy fior di latte cheese and castelvetrano olives, squid ink tonnarelli, and a half roasted chicken with salsa verde. Delish!


Seven Hills's maitake mushroom tortelli
Seven Hills’s maitake mushroom tortelli

Seven Hills

Seven Hills is a neighborhood jewel box of a restaurant in Russian Hill. The Hyde Street eatery is tiny and always filled with hungry diners. And for good reason: the pastas are some of the freshest and most innovative creations around. Think agnolotti made with nettles and tagliatelle infused with kale. Chef Anthony Florian makes even the most humble of Italian dishes, like meatballs in tomato sauce, taste utterly sublime.

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