11 Best Italian Restaurants in San Francisco

In San Francisco, Italian restaurants aren’t just located in North Beach, the city’s historic Italian district. You’ll also find them in pretty much every neighborhood. In fact, most locals will tell you that the best Italian restaurants in San Francisco have popped up in places like the Mission, Marina, and Lower Haight.

So, get ready to make your way through the city as you take a culinary tour of the best Italian in San Francisco.

Someone pulls up long pasta with a fork at SPQR, one of the best Italian restaurants in San Francisco
There’s no shortage of excellent Italian restaurants in San Francisco. Keep reading for our recommendations. Photo credit: City Foodsters

Cotogna

Hoping to score some of the best pasta in San Francisco? You’ll find it at Cotogna, situated near North Beach in Jackson Square, alongside its three-Michelin star sister restaurant Quince. (Cotogna means “quince” in Italian.) Exposed brick, a timber-clad ceiling, burnished copper countertops, and a wood-fired oven and rotisserie make Cotogna ever so warm and inviting.

Try one of celebrated Chef Michael Tusk’s delicate pastas made fresh daily, which include northern Italian specialties like agnolotti del plin and tagliatelle. Then follow up with a spit-roasted or grilled meat dish, showcasing the finest local, seasonal ingredients.

A chef whereing a white jacket and apron uses a pizza peel to bake a pizza in an authentic wood fire pizza oven from Italy
With a pizza oven made in Italy, the pizzas at Cotogna are deliciously authentic. Photo credit: Dale Cruse

SPQR

You’re in for a delicious treat if you decide to book a table at SPQR, which stands for Senatus Populus Que Romanus (meaning the Senate and the People of Rome).

Per Se alum Chef Matthew Accarrino has won a Michelin star every year since 2012 for his adventurous Cal-Italian creations, which are served up in a five-course prix fixe menu at SPQR. Past and current standouts at this bustling, little restaurant in Pacific Heights include lemon linguine with abalone and prime beef with bone marrow sauce.

overhead shot of a beautifully plated pasta dish of Pappardelle d'oro, aged cheddar crema, broccoli, smoked bacon and summer truffle
SPQR is the best of the best of San Francisco Italian restaurants. Photo credit: City Foodsters

La Ciccia

Seafood is the star at La Ciccia (291 30th Street), a much-loved neighborhood restaurant in Noe Valley whose chef and owner, Massimiliano Conti, hails from the Italian island of Sardinia. Tasty starters include a rich tomato stew of baby octopus and tender, roasted calamari drizzled with basil oil.

For the mains, Chef Conti keeps locals coming back for the spaghittusu tossed with spicy oil and bottarga (aka mullet roe), fusilli with sea urchin, and squid ink fettuccine. La Ciccia’s menu has both surf and turf, so you can also enjoy a lovely gnochetti in pork sauce or seared lamb tenderloin if you’re so inclined.

Two people sit at a table with red wine in wine glasses, as they share a plate of pasta
Pair a Sardinian wine with your food at La Ciccia. Photo credit: Susie Wyshak

Flour + Water

Imaginative handmade pastas and seasonal antipasti with a Nor-Cal twist make the newly renovated Flour + Water one of the best Italian restaurants in San Francisco. Try the pasta tasting menu ($125 per person), and get your fill of flavorful Italian fare such as veal-stuffed casconcelli or Taleggio-filled scarpinocc.

Located in the Mission district, this large, airy restaurant has folks lining up daily to get in when the doors open at 5:30 p.m. But if waiting in line isn’t your thing, you can also reserve your seats (well) in advance.

Ragazza

Chef and owner Sharon Ardiana pays tribute to the female cooks in her family with Ragazza (which means “girl” in Italian) in the Lower Haight. Her thin-crust pizzas, with their beautifully crisped exterior and soft, airy interior, are the main attraction for the crowds that descend daily on the cozy eatery.

But it’s not just about the pie at Ragazza. Diners can choose from a generous selection of antipasti—cheesy arancini with porcini mushrooms or burrata, peach, and arugula salad, for example—along with a few pastas and roasts, like the hearty ricotta cavatelli.

Extreme close up of one arancini, a little ball of risotto breaded and fried, atop chopped tomatoes and a slice of mozzarella cheese
Arancini are a typical dish from Sicily. Photo credit: Lucas Richarz

Acquerello

Luxuriate in Acquerello’s elegant setting—complete with white tablecloths, gorgeous flower arrangements, and vaulted, wood-beam ceiling—as you partake in a thoughtfully conceived and well-paced parade of Italian dishes that might include citrusy raw yellowtail with white peach, ridged pasta with black truffle, and juicy quail with a crisped exterior.

With Chef Suzette Gresham at the helm, this two-Michelin star, fine-dining restaurant located in Nob Hill offers a four-course prix fixe menu for $150 and a nine-course seasonal tasting menu for $250. A vegetarian tasting menu is also available for $195 as is an extensive, award-winning wine list.

close up of someone pouring gravy over a dish of lampredotto tripe with olio piccante over parsley brioche
Acquerello is in its own league when it comes to Italian cuisine. Photo credit: City Foodsters

Delfina

It’s been 24 years since Delfina’s grand opening in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission district. And yet it’s still a fan favorite among locals and tourists alike. Though the dining room is closed for renovations until the fall of 2022, Delfina is open for business in the parklet just outside.

Takeout options are also available, from grilled calamari with rice beans and Taggiasca olives to roasted chicken alla diavola and Neapolitan meatballs in a zesty tomato sauce. While you’re waiting for Delfina’s re-opening, drop by sister restaurant, Pizzeria Delfina, for some killer Neapolitan-style pizza.

close up of a Neapolitan style pizza from Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco
There’s nothing better than a perfectly made Neapolitan style pizza. Photo credit: Adam Kuban

Local’s Tip: Want more outdoor dining recommendations? Read along as our local expert shares the best ones.

Beretta

If you’d like to pair your Italian meal with an artisanal cocktail or two, then check out Beretta in the Mission—or its pop-up location in NoPa. Sip on a Kentucky mule (bourbon, lime, ginger, and mint) or nuestra paloma (tequila, lime, elderflower, Cointreau, and grapefruit) as you nibble on a selection of savory starters.

Try the caramelized Brussels sprouts with shallots and pancetta, walnut bread topped with creamy burrata and mushroom-truffle honey, and giant meatballs served in a spicy tomato sauce. And if you’re still hungry, give one of Beretta’s pies or pasta dishes a go—hot prosciutto di Parma pizza or lasagna Bolognese, anyone?

extreme close up of a red cocktail in a small cocktail glass
For delicious Italian food and perfectly crafted cocktails in San Francisco, look no further than Beretta. Photo credit: Simon P

A16

Named after the highway connecting Puglia to Naples, A16 led the way in elevating pizza Napoletana to its current cult status in San Francisco. Think chewy, blistered crusts topped with San Marzano tomatoes and rich, creamy mozzarella, burrata, or fior di latte.

A16 also puts out a fine medley of Southern Italian dishes, from the hearty maccaronara with ragu Napoletana to the moist halibut with salmoriglio sauce. As an added bonus, owner and wine director Shelly Lindgren has developed a wide-ranging wine list to suit any palate at both the Marina and Rockridge (Oakland) outposts.

Che Fico

Named to Bon Appétit’s Hot 10 Best New Restaurants list in 2018, Che Fico is still riding high with inventive Italian food San Francisco natives and visitors can’t get enough of. The second-floor taverna features a seasonal menu full of bright notes, including Jewish-Roman creations like suppli (fried risotto with tomato and fontina) and pollo arrosto (wood-fire roasted chicken with cipollini onions).

If you can’t snag a reservation or walk-in seat at the bar, then try the more casual Che Fico Alimentari—where wine bar meets Italian shop—on the ground floor of this former stable on Divisadero Street.

close up of someone eating suppli, a breaded and friend ball of cheese, with a long string of cheese stretching from his mouth
Tiny balls of fried cheesy goodness? Suppli had stolen our hearts! Photo credit: Evelyn Hill

Piccino

Once a small café serving pizza and coffee, Piccino (meaning “tiny” in Italian) has since moved locations to occupy a much larger, light-filled space in the Dogpatch neighborhood.

Enjoy a richly satisfying lunch al fresco that might include burrata with charred squash, anchovy, and bottarga along with the chiocciole (tube-shaped pasta) with kale and fennel sausage. Other Piccino highlights include the crumbly pork and beef polpette (or meatballs) and pizza margherita.