The search for the best Italian cuisine in San Francisco may begin in North Beach, the city's Little Italy, but it certainly doesn't end there. North Beach may be teeming with Italian restaurants, but few are worthy of their waits. Tried and true Tommaso's is one such stand-out. Their delicious pizzas, family-style dining, and boisterous atmosphere have kept lines out the door for decades. Across the neighborhood, cozy Trattoria Contadina serves up traditional pastas and meats that are a cut above the rest. Smack in the middle of North Beach nightlife, you can't miss Steps of Rome, a late-night café where patrons sit on the sidewalk and take in the action while sipping cappuccinos and noshing on gelato, pizza, or pasta.
On the other end of town, La Ciccia is a great date spot in Noe Valley. This intimate venue serves up incredible Sardinian cuisine accompanied by an all-Italian wine list. For truly classic Italian dining and lively ambience, head to SOMA to dine at inconspicuous Pazzia. It's a tough decision between their awesome thin crust pizzas or homemade pastas. Both are absolutely sublime. Cash-only Il Borgo also whips up fresh pasta in Hayes Valley and is a fine choice before the ballet or opera.
Take the cable car to Frascati or Tuscan-style Nob Hill Café, where the neighborhoods couldn't be more charming nor the cuisine more fantastic. A special evening warrants a visit to either. Amarena has the best Thursday happy hour in town – live music and a traditional Italian antipasti buffet for only $12. Don't let the white tablecloths at tucked-away Fino fool you, the pasta prices are beyond reasonable and the quality superior.
337 3rd St
(cross street: Folsom)
291 30th St.
1800 Mason Street
1042 Kearny St
1152 Taylor St
Between Sacramento and Clay sts
500 Fell St
Terrific Italian in Hayes Valley... read more
362 Columbus Ave
Italian Cafe and Trattoria, great people-watching...
1901 Hyde Street
Corner Hyde & Green Streets
Italian with a Cali-Medi-French flair... read more
2162 Larkin Street
(at the corner of Green Street)
Classic Italian cuisine and charm... read more
1 Cosmo Alley
The Andrews Hotel, Post Street