25 Best Italian Restaurants in  San Francisco
Photo: gkrphoto/Fotolia

San Francisco has hundreds of Italian restaurants serving food ranging from the Northern Italian and Sardinian cuisines to Cal-Ital food, Italian pastry shops, and high-end contemporary Italian restaurants. The list includes several hip and upcoming restaurants like Acquerello as well as time-tested local favorites such as Perbacco. High-end restaurants that are perfect for special occasions appear on the list beside casual pizzerias, proving that San Francisco has something to offer anyone who is looking for a taste of Italy in the Golden City. As would be expected, many of the best Italian joints in San Francisco are in the historic Little Italy area of North Beach. However, delicious Italian can be found all over the city.

»Acquerello, Russian Hill

Acquerello, Russian Hill

Acquerello has been awarded two Michelin stars and is an extremely high-end gastronomic destination. The restaurant is purely decadent and serves such delights as a nearly $400 truffle tasting menu. For a more affordable, but still luxurious, option, choose the regular three-course meal. For the full experience, you can add an additional course, or even two for a full 5 courses. They have a fantastic wine list to accompany dinner. Acquerello is the perfect splurge for a romantic evening out or a special occasion meal. What’s more, the space was built inside a retired chapel, which gives it a special ambiance.

1722 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA 94109, Phone: 415-567-5432 Photo: Tommaso’s Ristorante Italiano

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»Locanda, Mission District

Locanda, Mission District

Locanda is the little brother of the long-time mainstay on the San Francisco Cal-Italian scene – Delfina. The off-shoot specializes in Roman classics, such as Jewish-style artichokes and tripe. The pasta is consistently delicious and cooked to perfection. The rigatoni all carbonara and Marco’s Lasagna are both local favorites. While you might not think of an Italian place when looking for a good brunch spot, Locanda serves up a delicious one, with several Italian-inspired egg dishes, pancakes, house-made yogurt, and a stunning corned beef hash. The bar serves tasty Amaro-based cocktails and offers a formidable wine list.

557 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110, Phone: 415-863-6800 Photo: Beth Thomas

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»Cotogna, Jackson Square

Cotogna, Jackson Square

Cotogna is a bustling rustic-modern eatery with authentic wood-fired pizzas, home-made pastas, and other Italian classics. The restaurant was created to compliment Chef Michael Tusk’s fine-dining restaurant located next door. However, the atmosphere at Cotogna is significantly more relaxed than its adjoining big brother. The menu changes daily with a variety of specials, although the restaurant specializes in spit-roasted and grilled meats and fish as well as pizzas cooked in the wood-fire oven and delicious house-made pastas. The bar is open all day and serves wines and specialty cocktails as well as bottled and draft beers.

490 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133, Phone: 415-775-8508 Photo: Cotogna

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»Tommaso’s Ristorante Italiano, North Beach

Tommaso’s Ristorante Italiano, North Beach

Tommaso’s Ristorante Italiano has been serving up their famous thin-crust pizzas cooked in their original wood-burning oven for more than 80 years. The family-run establishment has been passed through several generations of an Italian immigrant family. The menu includes a small selection of appetizers, including their specialty – baked fresh Coo-Coo clams. They also serve salads, pastas, and some oven-baked entrees. However, the wood-fired pizza is certainly the star of the show. The pizza comes in two sizes and are all topped with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. There is a wide selection of topping choices ranging from a simple cheese pizza to the heavy-loaded Super Deluxe.

1042 Kearny Street, San Francisco, CA 94133, Phone: 415-398-9696 Photo: Tommaso’s

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»Barbacco, Financial District

Barbacco, Financial District

Barbacco is an Italian trattoria that serves simple, delicious Italian cuisine in a casual environment. The restaurant offers regional dishes from all of Italy’s regions in both small and large plate formats. The dining area features small, communal tables that encourage a convivial and energetic atmosphere. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. Some of the highlights on the menu are the black cod, Brussels sprouts, risotto, and consistently well-executed pasta dishes. Barbacco is owned by the same people as the more swanky Perbacco, which is located next-door. The restaurant can get quite crowded, so reservations are a must.

220 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94111, Phone: 415-955-1919 Photo: Barbacco

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»E Tutto Qua, North Beach

E Tutto Qua, North Beach

E Tutto Qua is Italian for “It’s All Here.” The restaurant features dishes from traditional Italy fused with modern Italian cuisine, meaning they have a little bit of everything. The restaurant specializes in house-made pasta, fresh bread, and desserts. They source only the highest quality ingredients including fresh seafood and prime meat. The dining room is warm and lively and features large windows giving the space an open feel. For a truly special experience, E Tutto Qua offers a fixed price group menu for family-style dining. The menu includes three appetizers for sharing, including bruschetta, insalata caprese, and arancia e finocchio. Each guest is then served their choice of three different main courses on individual plates.

270 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133, Phone: 415-989-1002 Photo: E Tutto Qua, North Beach

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»Fino Ristorante & Bar, Union Square

Fino Ristorante & Bar, Union Square

Fino Ristorante is located adjacent to the lobby of The Andrews Hotel on the ground floor. The restaurant sources the freshest California ingredients to make their creative Italian dishes. The menu is designed for a wide variety of palates and includes daily specials and many vegetarian options. The dining room has high ceilings and elegant arched windows as well as an inviting fireplace and a gorgeous mahogany bar. Diners can watch their food being prepared in the open kitchen. The restaurant is open each day for dinner and is the perfect end to your day of shopping or a pre-theater dinner.

The Andrews Hotel, 624 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94109, Phone: 415-928-2080 Photo: Fino Ristorante & Bar

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»Firenze By Night, North Beach

Firenze By Night, North Beach

Firenze By Night is a dinner-only restaurant that serves delicious continental Italian cuisine. They specialize in traditional Italian pasta, fish, and meat dishes with a modern touch. They are careful to include only the freshest ingredients and do not use any artificial ingredients or preservatives. Firenze is well known for its award-winning gnocchi, which is served in a light tomato cream sauce. The pappardelle Toscana is another favorite dish, consisting of large noodles served in rabbit sauce. Chef Sergio Giusti has won several local and national awards for his skill in the kitchen. The restaurant features a full bar and extensive wine list.

1429 Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA 94133, Phone: 415-392-8485 Photo: Firenze By Night

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»Flour + Water, Mission District

Flour + Water, Mission District

Flour + Water specializes in handcrafted Italian grub, including pasta and wood-fired pizza, served in a casual, rustic space in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District. While the menu includes a couple of meat and fish options, pizza and pasta are certainly the stars of the show. The pasta is made daily and is cooked to a perfect al dente. They also make the salumi in house from whole animals that are butchered on site and used in their entirety. They serve pizzas that are cooked in their Italian wood oven, which is set at 900 degrees, meaning they can cook a pizza to perfection in only two minutes. The five-course pasta tasting menu is certainly a memorable experience. The restaurant is quite popular and advance reservations are recommended.

2401 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94110, Phone: 415-826-7000 Photo: Flour + Water

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»Franchino, North Beach

Franchino, North Beach

Franchino is a homey family-run restaurant located in the heart of North Beach. Husband-and-wife owners Franchino and his wife Giuseppina strive to create a cozy and intimate dining experience such as one might find if you were a guest in their home. The couple, Italian immigrants, opened the restaurant in 1989, and it has come to be a neighborhood favorite. Some of the restaurant’s specialties include pappardelle with sausage, veal parmesan, and risotto with fresh seafood. They offer a selection of delicious, fresh, homemade desserts to finish off your dining experience. The restaurant is only open for dinner and is closed on Mondays.

347 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133, Phone: 415-982-2157 Photo: Franchino

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»La Ciccia, Noe Valley

La Ciccia, Noe Valley

La Ciccia is a thriving neighborhood Italian restaurant ran by a husband-and-wife team from Italy. The restaurant attracts a solid crowd of regulars in a small, rustic dining room that has been painted blue. The atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable, but can get a bit boisterous at times. The menu is reminiscent of the ocean and of the island home of its Sardinian owners. The food is simple, salty, and fresh. Favorites include homemade spaghetti, octopus stew, and other favorites from Southern Italy. La Ciccia has an extensive wine list that is especially vast in its selection of Sardinian wines.

291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131, Phone: 415-550-8114 Photo: La Ciccia

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»Perbacco, Financial District

Perbacco, Financial District

Perbacco is a successful and well-respected mainstay on San Francisco’s Italian restaurant scene. The restaurant’s name is an Italian word someone might say when they are pleased or surprised. The restaurant offers authentic Italian food focused on the refined tastes of the Piemonte region. They specialize in simple ingredient-driven dishes that are handcrafted from local produce. The head chef, Chef Terje himself, can often be seen at local farmers markets making sure that he is sourcing the best in fresh, local produce. Menu highlights include a delicious pesce crudo, the beef short rib braised with wine, and the sea bass alla piastra.

230 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94111, Phone: 415-955-0663 Photo: Perbacco

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»Seven Hills, Russian Hill

Seven Hills, Russian Hill

Seven Hills is lively establishment right off the Hyde Street cable car. The restaurant attracts tourists galore, and rightly so as they serve what is perhaps the most iconic pasta dish in San Francisco. The ravioli uovo is made with ricotta cheese, brown butter, and a liquid egg yolk that gushes out all over the dishes when dug into. However, the menu has other highlights as well. They specialize in farm-to-table Roman-style cuisine with modern and inventive twists. While waiting on your ravioli to come out, try the octopus appetizer, it’s fantastic. Even though it is busy, the candlelit space is quite romantic and is great for special occasions.

1550 Hyde Street, San Francisco, CA 94109, Phone: 415-775-1550 Photo: Seven Hills

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»SPQR, Pacific Heights

SPQR, Pacific Heights

SPQR offers Italian favorites and tasting menus crafted from local ingredients in a small but cozy environment. The menu reflects both Northern California and Italy and is traditional and modern. Chef Matthew Accarrino has earned the restaurant a Michelin star and has received several James Beard nominations. Some of his best creations include the antipasti such as the caramelized sweet onion panna cotta, which is served with Accarrino’s sturgeon bacon and caviar. All of the pastas are delicious, with the Meyer lemon fettuccini in abalone alfredo being a favorite. The wine list is vast and includes perfect pairings for any dish on the menu.

1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115, Phone: 415-771-7779 Photo: Joshua Resnick/Fotolia

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»Trattoria Contadina, North Beach

Trattoria Contadina, North Beach

Trattoria Contadina is a modest establishment that is both authentic and consistently tasty. Located in the center of San Francisco’s Italian community, the small and boisterous restaurant features some of the most sincere service you will find in San Fran. Menu highlights include the caprese salad and their signature Carlesimo that includes rigatoncelli, pancetta, sun-dried tomatoes, peas, porcini mushrooms, and a spicy tomato cream as the sauce. Dessert options include tiramisu and spumoni. The restaurant also has a nice selection of whisky and old-fashioned strong drinks. Trattoria Contadina is conveniently located off of the Mason cable car line. Reservations are recommended.

1800 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94133, Phone: 415-982-5728 Photo: Trattoria Contadina

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»54 Mint, SoMa

54 Mint, SoMa

54 Mint is tucked away from the main drag on a tiny alley in San Francisco’s historic Mint Plaza. The restaurant is a modern Italian trattoria that specializes in elegant Roman dishes with a modern, California touch. The menu is inspired by the seasons and changes from time to time. Each dish uses the most high-quality local and sustainably sourced ingredients. Most menu items, including the bread, pasta, and desserts, are made fresh every day on site. Guests can dine in the main dining room or al fresco on the terrace. Diners can also choose to dine downstairs in the well-stocked wine cellar.

16 Mint Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94103, Phone: 415-543-5100 Photo: 54 Mint

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»Amarena, Russian Hill

Amarena, Russian Hill

Amarena offers traditional Italian fare like hearty veal dishes and homemade pastas. The restaurant operates out of an intimate and homey converted row house. The cozy space is complete with elegant white table clothes, neutral walls lined with bottles of wine, and a faint background of opera music. The food is no less elegant and includes a selection of salads, small plates, homemade pastas, meat and fish-based entrees, and desserts. Highlights include the spaghetti alla vongole, gnocchi con funghi e gorgonzola, the osso buco, and tiramisu or gelato to finish off your meal. They also have a formidable wine list with a selection of Italian wines that make for a perfect accompaniment to their dishes.

2162 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94109, Phone: 415-447-0441 Photo: Amarena

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»Bacco, Noe Valley

Bacco, Noe Valley

Bacco is an intimate, casually elegant Italian restaurant serving authentic, regional dishes in a comfortable space. The restaurant is known for their fresh, house-made pastas but they also serve salads, seafood, chicken, lamb, and veal. Guests can start their meal with something from the antipasti menu, which includes tasty salads, calamari, baby octopus, and more. The pasta they are famous for includes house-made squid ink pasta served with spicy calamari and tomato, rigatoni with sausage, and roasted peppers and fregola, which is a delicious Sardinian pasta dish served with clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp, fresh tomatoes, and seasonings. Bacco also offers a selection of gluten-free pasta dishes as well as daily risotto specials.

737 Diamond Street, San Francisco, CA 94114, Phone: 415-282-4969 Photo: Bacco

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»Capo’s, Chinatown

Capo’s, Chinatown

Capo’s specializes in authentic Chicago-style Italian food and pizza. They offer several varieties of Chicago-style pies served on four types of crust: cracker thin, cast iron pan, stuffed crust, and two sizes of deep dish. The crust is made with Ceresota flour from one of Chicago’s oldest and most respected flour mills. The signature dish at Capo’s is the Quattro Forni pizza, which is cooked four times. The restaurant only makes twenty of these specialty pies each day. Other favorites include the fire-roasted stuffed bell pepper, the Outfit Antipasti Platter, and several wood-fired baked pastas. On the weekends they offer lunch specials that include a Chicago-style Vienna beef hotdog.

641 Vallejo Street, San Francisco, CA 94133, Phone: 415-986-8998 Photo: Capo’s

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»Delarosa, Marina District

Delarosa, Marina District

Delarosa is a Roman-style pizzeria with two locations in San Francisco. The menu features salads, pasta, a selection of antipasti, and of course, pizza. The pizza is thin and crispy, comes with several topping options, and pairs well with Delarosa’s hand-crafted cocktails. The seating in the dining room is communal-style, which mimics their European ideal of sharing food with friends and strangers alike. The restaurant is conveniently located nearby the Golden Gate Bridge, the Palace of Fine Arts, the Presidio, and Crissy Field, which makes it a convenient stop during a day of sight-seeing. In addition to their flagship location on Chestnut Street in the Marina District, Delarosa also has a location downtown in the Financial District.

2175 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA 94123, Phone: 415-673-7100 Photo: Delarosa

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»Mangia Tutti Ristorante, Financial District

Mangia Tutti Ristorante, Financial District

Mangia Tutti Ristorante has been a local favorite for more than a decade. The dining space is comfortable and casual but nice enough for a business lunch. Even though the restaurant’s name, which means “Eat All” in Italian, is a name commonly used with all-you-can-eat restaurants and diners, the restaurant is anything but low-class. The meal starts with complimentary warm bread that comes with two tasty spreads. Guests can choose from a selection of antipasti such as bruschetta and caprese. Entree choices include several pasta dishes as well as meat and fish. Some favorites are the gnocchi al gorgonzola, the chicken saltimbocca, and the polpette di carne.

635 Clay Street, San Francisco, CA 94111, Phone: 415-788-2088 Photo: baibaz/Fotolia

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»Palio d’Asti, Financial District

Palio d’Asti, Financial District

Palio d’Asti is a chic Italian eatery that serves a menu inspired by Tuscany in an equally Tuscan-inspired space. The restaurant has been a favorite with both tourists and locals for more than a quarter century. The venue is a go-to spot for private parties, group dining, or business lunches in the financial district. They feature a menu that changes seasonally to add specials based on what local produce is available in Northern California. They serve a selection of pastas, pizzas, and meat dishes as well as wine and appetizers. Palio d’Asti has a very popular pizza happy hour and offers gluten-free pizza crust or pasta on request.

640 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA 94111, Phone: 415-395-9800 Photo: Palio d’Asti

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»Ragazza, Haight-Ashbury

Ragazza, Haight-Ashbury

Ragazza is a neighborhood eatery that serves Neapolitan-style thin-crust pizzas as well as a variety of seasonally inspired salads, appetizers, pasta bakes, and roasts. The restaurant is casual, and the walls are lined with old family photos, which add to the charm of the place. The antipasti menu features several tasty starters, such as potato and leek soup, chicken liver pate, and the sampler platter-style Italian Picnic. While they also serve meat dishes and pasta, the highlight of the menu is their thin-crust pizza, which can come with any of several topping options. Ragazza is only open for dinner and does not accept reservations except in the case of large parties who wish to reserve the heated enclosed gazebo.

311 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117, Phone: 415-255-1133 Photo: Ragazza

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»The Gold Mirror Italian Restaurant, Parkside

The Gold Mirror Italian Restaurant, Parkside

The Gold Mirror Italian Restaurant is a family-owned restaurant serving authentic, Italian cuisine. Husband-and-wife team Giuseppe and Josephine have operated the restaurant for the past 40 years. The restaurant is relaxed and both the surroundings and the food have a homey and Old World feel. The menu is fairly extensive and includes pasta, soups, salads, appetizers, veal, poultry, and fish. Some local favorites are the homemade cannelloni, the lasagna Bolognese, and the chicken cacciatore al provincial. To finish off a great meal at the Gold Mirror, guests can choose from a solid list of desserts and dessert wines. Some highlights include cheesecake topped with berry sauce, cream puffs, and tiramisu.

800 Taraval Street, San Francisco, CA 94116, Phone: 415-564-0401 Photo: The Gold Mirror Italian Restaurant

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»The Stinking Rose, North Beach

The Stinking Rose, North Beach

The Stinking Rose is a unique Italian eatery that has built their entire menu around one ingredient – garlic. Billed as one of San Francisco’s most unique and entertaining dining establishments, the restaurant goes through more than 3,000 pounds of garlic each month and includes garlic in almost every dish, even their desserts. Garlic artwork covers virtually every surface of the dining room, and the room is whimsically decorated with garlic characters, interesting memorabilia, and even a small mechanical garlic factory. Some must-try dishes at The Stinking Rose are the Dungeness Killer Crab, which is roasted in garlic sauce, the garlic roasted prime rib, and the Forty Clove Garlic Chicken.

325 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133, Phone: 415-781-7673 Photo: The Stinking Rose

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25 Best Italian Restaurants in San Francisco