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A table of plates with crudo, pasta, and wine at Flour + Water. Photos courtesy Krescent Carasso

14 Primo Italian Restaurants in San Francisco

Try these restaurants for Roman pasta, Neapolitan pizza, wood-fired fish, and so much more

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There’s a long and wonderful tradition of Italian food in San Francisco. Immigrants flooded the Bay during the Gold Rush, and while many southerners stayed in New York, simmering hearty red sauces, many northerners landed in San Francisco, bringing a taste for fresh fish, green olives, and bright citrus. North Beach is the historic neighborhood, and it’s predictably filled with tourist traps, as well as old standbys, many ladling out cioppino, our iconic fisherman’s stew.

But these days, Italian restaurants are all over the city, serving Roman classics like cacio e pepe and spicy Amatriciana, bold and modern updates on fresh and filled pastas, Neapolitan-style pizzas out of blistering hot ovens, and garlicky fish and steak kissed by wood-fire grills. Here are 14 of the most seasoned Italian restaurants in San Francisco.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Original Joe's

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Where else can you get steak with a side of ravioli and creamed spinach? This Italian-American institution is filled with red booths, white tablecloths, and bustling waiters. The restaurant is 80 years old, and while the original location burned in 2007, it now has a prime spot on Washington Square Park in the heart of North Beach. The Westlake location also has its own following among locals.

Original Joe’s, Friday 6pm

Cozy at the end of Chestnut Street since 2004, A16 has earned a reputation for Southern Italian antipasti, salumi, pizza, and meat, intersecting with a deep wine list helmed by award-winning wine expert Shelley Lindgren. The space winds back past the open kitchen and gaping oven to a pretty green patio.

Pasta at A16 A16

Seven Hills

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Seven Hills has been a jewel box in Russian Hill for nearly a decade, and the restaurant just jumped a few blocks over into a bigger space in fall 2019, bringing all the fresh pasta along with it. The neighborhood would have revolted if the chef took the freshly extruded maccheroncelli and house ricotta off the menu. 

Pasta at Seven Hills Seven Hills

Cotogna

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Just where North Beach starts to dip down into charming Jackson Square, Cotogna has a warm and welcoming open hearth and rustic wooden tables. It’s owned by Michael Tusk, who’s also behind Quince, the fine dining star, but Cotogna is more relaxed. The raviolo is an experience, a single large filled pasta, which when cut with a fork, breaks into fresh ricotta and golden egg yolk. But you can’t go wrong with any of the fresh pasta, fish from the grill, and meat from the spit.

The Italian Homemade Company

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Italian Homemade serves big slabs of lasagna, as well as hearty ravioli and gnocchi, either to go or for delivery. Locations are now around town, with the original in North Beach, as well as outposts in Cow Hollow and Hayes, covering carb needs all across town.

Lasagna from Italian Homemade The Italian Homemade Company

Sorella

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It’s name might mean “sister,” but don’t get it twisted: Sorella, the second spot from the team behind Michelin-praised Acquerello, is a star in its own right. Taking over a lively corner space on Polk, Sorella serves an approachable Italian menu of antipasti, pasta, meaty secondi – think lamb osso bucco and pork chop with big butter beans – but for the ultimate chill night out grab a stool at the bar for cocktails and cicchetti, or Venetian small snacks like crisp potato chips dusted with “cacio e pepe” seasoning and a single showstopping sausage stuffed chicken wing

“Fancy lasagna” at Sorella Hardy Wilson

Acquerello

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More than 30 years in, Acquerello is a fine dining institution still shining bright with two Michelin stars. Suzette Gresham and chef de cuisine Seth Turiansky serve luxurious tasting menus, ranging from a seasonal nine-course tasting menu for $250 (a nine-course tasting of vegetables is also available for $195) or a four-course prix-fixe for $150.

Octopus from Acquerello Acquerello

The Tailor's Son

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If you think you’ve had Italian food from restaurant Back of the House, the Tailor’s Son will nudge you out of your expectations of what that means. The restaurant skews more toward Northern Italian, bringing dishes that hark back to Adriano Paganini’s childhood, in ways that feel comforting. Tuck into a squid-laden risotto made with seppia ink, or radiatori tossed in pork ragu, washed down with a spritz or negroni.

Patricia Chang

SPQR took its name from the Roman empire, but the pasta is far from classic. It was originally an offshoot of A16, but wine director Shelley Lindgren officially stepped out in 2019, leaving chef-owner Matt Accarino to run the show, where he twirls squid ink pasta, chicken liver mousse, and wagyu carne cruda.

It’s not so much that Italian food is laden with meat, but there is a strong association of Italian food with cheese, which can make things difficult for a vegan to do a simple night out. Enter Baia, which promises pastas, pizzas, and appetizers all made vegan. Add onto the fact that the pasta and pizza crust can be made gluten-free on request, and you’ve got an inclusive Italian dinner for all.

Vegan Italian food from Baia Courtesy Matthew Kenney

Che Fico

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Che Fico is a couple years in and yet never lost its cool. It’s got a lot of levels: The full restaurant upstairs, with that pineapple pizza with fermented chiles, as well as the Alimentari downstairs, which has the feel of a casual bottle shop, but still exceptional cacio e pepe.

Flour + Water

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After a four-month renovation, San Francisco classic Flour + Water is back in action with a lightly refreshed menu bringing on more antipasti. The ever-favorite pasta tasting menu is still around for $125 per person, perfect for exploring the house-made pasta mastery of the restaurant, and seasonal classics like the corn and crescenza cappelletti dish keep things fresh and perfect for your visit.

Itria backed into its original plan and first opened for pizza delivery in May 2021, but finally opened for indoor dining in August 2021, debuting a totally fresh menu of pasta and crudo. Lots of restaurants throw one crudo on the menu, but chef Daniel Evers (Al’s Place, Cotogna) digs into the category with half a dozen different varieties, as well as handmade pasta, in an array of extruded and filled shapes. 

Pizza slices from Itria Patricia Chang

The Gold Mirror Italian Restaurant

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Tucked away in Inner Parkside, Gold Mirror is a neighborhood gem. Chef Giuseppe di Grande is originally from Sicily, and he started rolling the cannelloni in 1969. Fifty years later, his sons are in the kitchen, still sending out classics like veal parm to a dining room filled with faux castle walls and medieval decor.

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Original Joe's

Original Joe’s, Friday 6pm

Where else can you get steak with a side of ravioli and creamed spinach? This Italian-American institution is filled with red booths, white tablecloths, and bustling waiters. The restaurant is 80 years old, and while the original location burned in 2007, it now has a prime spot on Washington Square Park in the heart of North Beach. The Westlake location also has its own following among locals.

Original Joe’s, Friday 6pm

A16

Pasta at A16 A16

Cozy at the end of Chestnut Street since 2004, A16 has earned a reputation for Southern Italian antipasti, salumi, pizza, and meat, intersecting with a deep wine list helmed by award-winning wine expert Shelley Lindgren. The space winds back past the open kitchen and gaping oven to a pretty green patio.

Pasta at A16 A16

Seven Hills

Pasta at Seven Hills Seven Hills

Seven Hills has been a jewel box in Russian Hill for nearly a decade, and the restaurant just jumped a few blocks over into a bigger space in fall 2019, bringing all the fresh pasta along with it. The neighborhood would have revolted if the chef took the freshly extruded maccheroncelli and house ricotta off the menu. 

Pasta at Seven Hills Seven Hills

Cotogna

Just where North Beach starts to dip down into charming Jackson Square, Cotogna has a warm and welcoming open hearth and rustic wooden tables. It’s owned by Michael Tusk, who’s also behind Quince, the fine dining star, but Cotogna is more relaxed. The raviolo is an experience, a single large filled pasta, which when cut with a fork, breaks into fresh ricotta and golden egg yolk. But you can’t go wrong with any of the fresh pasta, fish from the grill, and meat from the spit.

The Italian Homemade Company

Lasagna from Italian Homemade The Italian Homemade Company

Italian Homemade serves big slabs of lasagna, as well as hearty ravioli and gnocchi, either to go or for delivery. Locations are now around town, with the original in North Beach, as well as outposts in Cow Hollow and Hayes, covering carb needs all across town.

Lasagna from Italian Homemade The Italian Homemade Company

Sorella

“Fancy lasagna” at Sorella Hardy Wilson

It’s name might mean “sister,” but don’t get it twisted: Sorella, the second spot from the team behind Michelin-praised Acquerello, is a star in its own right. Taking over a lively corner space on Polk, Sorella serves an approachable Italian menu of antipasti, pasta, meaty secondi – think lamb osso bucco and pork chop with big butter beans – but for the ultimate chill night out grab a stool at the bar for cocktails and cicchetti, or Venetian small snacks like crisp potato chips dusted with “cacio e pepe” seasoning and a single showstopping sausage stuffed chicken wing

“Fancy lasagna” at Sorella Hardy Wilson

Acquerello

Octopus from Acquerello Acquerello

More than 30 years in, Acquerello is a fine dining institution still shining bright with two Michelin stars. Suzette Gresham and chef de cuisine Seth Turiansky serve luxurious tasting menus, ranging from a seasonal nine-course tasting menu for $250 (a nine-course tasting of vegetables is also available for $195) or a four-course prix-fixe for $150.

Octopus from Acquerello Acquerello

The Tailor's Son

Patricia Chang

If you think you’ve had Italian food from restaurant Back of the House, the Tailor’s Son will nudge you out of your expectations of what that means. The restaurant skews more toward Northern Italian, bringing dishes that hark back to Adriano Paganini’s childhood, in ways that feel comforting. Tuck into a squid-laden risotto made with seppia ink, or radiatori tossed in pork ragu, washed down with a spritz or negroni.

Patricia Chang

SPQR

SPQR took its name from the Roman empire, but the pasta is far from classic. It was originally an offshoot of A16, but wine director Shelley Lindgren officially stepped out in 2019, leaving chef-owner Matt Accarino to run the show, where he twirls squid ink pasta, chicken liver mousse, and wagyu carne cruda.

BAIA

Vegan Italian food from Baia Courtesy Matthew Kenney

It’s not so much that Italian food is laden with meat, but there is a strong association of Italian food with cheese, which can make things difficult for a vegan to do a simple night out. Enter Baia, which promises pastas, pizzas, and appetizers all made vegan. Add onto the fact that the pasta and pizza crust can be made gluten-free on request, and you’ve got an inclusive Italian dinner for all.

Vegan Italian food from Baia Courtesy Matthew Kenney

Che Fico

Che Fico is a couple years in and yet never lost its cool. It’s got a lot of levels: The full restaurant upstairs, with that pineapple pizza with fermented chiles, as well as the Alimentari downstairs, which has the feel of a casual bottle shop, but still exceptional cacio e pepe.

Flour + Water

After a four-month renovation, San Francisco classic Flour + Water is back in action with a lightly refreshed menu bringing on more antipasti. The ever-favorite pasta tasting menu is still around for $125 per person, perfect for exploring the house-made pasta mastery of the restaurant, and seasonal classics like the corn and crescenza cappelletti dish keep things fresh and perfect for your visit.

Itria

Pizza slices from Itria Patricia Chang

Itria backed into its original plan and first opened for pizza delivery in May 2021, but finally opened for indoor dining in August 2021, debuting a totally fresh menu of pasta and crudo. Lots of restaurants throw one crudo on the menu, but chef Daniel Evers (Al’s Place, Cotogna) digs into the category with half a dozen different varieties, as well as handmade