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A plate of pasta.
La Connessa, the new Italian restaurant from the restaurant group behind Spruce, opened in Potrero Hill last fall.
La Connessa

14 Primo Italian Restaurants in San Francisco

Try these restaurants for fresh pasta, blistered pizzas, and more

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La Connessa, the new Italian restaurant from the restaurant group behind Spruce, opened in Potrero Hill last fall.
| La Connessa

There’s a long and wonderful tradition of Italian food in San Francisco. Immigrants flooded the Bay Area 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 Italian neighborhood, and it’s predictably filled with tourist traps as well as old standbys, many ladling out cioppino, San Francisco’s 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 pulled 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.

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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 more than 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 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. (Pro-tip: the original space is now home to sister restaurant Collina.)

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 chef Michael Tusk, who’s also behind Quince, the fine dining star, though Cotogna is relatively 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, or meat from the spit.

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 team serve luxurious tasting menus, ranging from a seasonal nine-course tasting menu for $275 (a nine-course tasting of vegetables is also available for $195) or a four-course prix-fixe for $165. Expect white tablecloths, purse stools, and other hallmarks of star-quality service.

Octopus from Acquerello Acquerello

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 Accarrino to run the show. Now, the strength of the prix-fixe menu lies just as much in the excellent secondi like king salmon and wagyu with foie gras sauce as in the expertly prepared pasta, including veal-filled pyramidi and buckwheat rapini with bacon and rapini.

Stephanie Amberg

Pasta Supply Co

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Chef Anthony Strong has not only installed a neighborhood pasta shop selling all shapes and styles of noodles and sauces to the Inner Richmond but he’s also opened the shop for dinner. It’s a simple menu, with about five rotating bowls of pasta available for under $25, using seasonal ingredients such as a recent sweet corn raviolini. Round your meal out with vegetable sides and starters — don’t skip an order of housemade bread.

Pasta dishes from San Francisco restaurant and retail shop, Pasta Supply Co. Becky Duffett

It’s not so much that Italian food is laden with meat, but there’s a strong association of Italian food with cheese, which can make things difficult for a vegan to do an Italian dinner out. Enter Baia, which promises pasta, pizzas, and appetizers — all made vegan. Add on 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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There’s a lot going for this Divisidero Street restaurant: a stunning space that formerly housed an auto body shop but now exudes warmth and energy with drying herbs dangling from the rafters, made-in-house salumi, fresh pasta, and a solid list of wine. So even though it may not be the most affordable Italian option in the city — the restaurant charges a somewhat controversial fee on top of tips — it’s a great spot for a night out in NoPa. For a more casual and less expensive option, try the downstairs sister restaurant Che Fico Alimentari.

Lauren Saria

La Connessa

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La Connessa, a new Italian trattoria from the restaurant group behind fine dining staple Spruce, debuted in the Potrero Hill neighborhood last fall along with sister spots Magic Donuts & Coffee and Louie’s Original. It’s a stunning and spacious dinner destination, where the kitchen pushes out approachable and well-executed plates such as braised duck cannelloni and local rock cod en brodo. Antipasti include focaccio di recco, chicken liver crostini, and tuna conserva, while entrees span frehs pasta, rib-eye tagliata, and four kinds of pizza. 

La Connessa

Flour + Water

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After a months-long 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, perfect for exploring the house-made pasta mastery of the legendary restaurant. It’s also the only way to get a taste of the restaurant's impeccable tortellini en brodo, should you need some motivation to commit.

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

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

Pizza slices from Itria Patricia Chang

La Ciccia

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There was much hand-wringing among La Ciccia’s hordes of fans when longtime owners Massimiliano Conti and Lorella Degan decided to sell their beloved Noe Valley gem. Thankfully, the new owner, a regular and a neighborhood resident, knew to keep all the best parts of the restaurant in place, continuing to serve La Ciccia’s legendary bottarga-topped spaghetti and other seafood-centric Sardinian specialties. The wine list now skews a little more towards natural options, but otherwise, it’s still just as charming — and excellent — as ever.  

Original Joe's

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 more than 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

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

Seven Hills has been a jewel box in Russian Hill for nearly a decade, and the restaurant 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. (Pro-tip: the original space is now home to sister restaurant Collina.)

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 chef Michael Tusk, who’s also behind Quince, the fine dining star, though Cotogna is relatively 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, or meat from the spit.

Sorella

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

More than 30 years in, Acquerello is a fine dining institution still shining bright with two Michelin stars. Suzette Gresham and team serve luxurious tasting menus, ranging from a seasonal nine-course tasting menu for $275 (a nine-course tasting of vegetables is also available for $195) or a four-course prix-fixe for $165. Expect white tablecloths, purse stools, and other hallmarks of star-quality service.

Octopus from Acquerello Acquerello

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 Accarrino to run the show. Now, the strength of the prix-fixe menu lies just as much in the excellent secondi like king salmon and wagyu with foie gras sauce as in the expertly prepared pasta, including veal-filled pyramidi and buckwheat rapini with bacon and rapini.

Stephanie Amberg

Pasta Supply Co

Chef Anthony Strong has not only installed a neighborhood pasta shop selling all shapes and styles of noodles and sauces to the Inner Richmond but he’s also opened the shop for dinner. It’s a simple menu, with about five rotating bowls of pasta available for under $25, using seasonal ingredients such as a recent sweet corn raviolini. Round your meal out with vegetable sides and starters — don’t skip an order of housemade bread.

Pasta dishes from San Francisco restaurant and retail shop, Pasta Supply Co. Becky Duffett

BAIA

It’s not so much that Italian food is laden with meat, but there’s a strong association of Italian food with cheese, which can make things difficult for a vegan to do an Italian dinner out. Enter Baia, which promises pasta, pizzas, and appetizers — all made vegan. Add on 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

There’s a lot going for this Divisidero Street restaurant: a stunning space that formerly housed an auto body shop but now exudes warmth and energy with drying herbs dangling from the rafters, made-in-house salumi, fresh pasta, and a solid list of wine. So even though it may not be the most affordable Italian option in the city — the restaurant charges a somewhat controversial fee on top of tips — it’s a great spot for a night out in NoPa. For a more casual and less expensive option, try the downstairs sister restaurant Che Fico Alimentari.

Lauren Saria

La Connessa

La Connessa, a new Italian trattoria from the restaurant group behind fine dining staple Spruce, debuted in the Potrero Hill neighborhood last fall along with sister spots Magic Donuts & Coffee and Louie’s Original. It’s a stunning and spacious dinner destination, where the kitchen pushes out approachable and well-executed plates such as braised duck cannelloni and local rock cod en brodo. Antipasti include focaccio di recco, chicken liver crostini, and tuna conserva, while entrees span frehs pasta, rib-eye tagliata, and four kinds of pizza. 

La Connessa

Flour + Water

After a months-long 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, perfect for exploring the house-made pasta mastery of the legendary restaurant. It’s also the only way to get a taste of the restaurant's impeccable tortellini en brodo, should you need some motivation to commit.

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

Itria

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

Pizza slices from Itria Patricia Chang

La Ciccia

There was much hand-wringing among La Ciccia’s hordes of fans when longtime owners Massimiliano Conti and Lorella Degan decided to sell their beloved Noe Valley gem. Thankfully, the new owner, a regular and a neighborhood resident, knew to keep all the best parts of the restaurant in place, continuing to serve La Ciccia’s legendary bottarga-topped spaghetti and other seafood-centric Sardinian specialties. The wine list now skews a little more towards natural options, but otherwise, it’s still just as charming — and excellent — as ever.  

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