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Best Italian Restaurants in San Francisco

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Locals come to Acquerello on special occasions to enjoy meals that combine the best aspects of Italy and California. The incredibly artful dishes, prepared with extra care and tender love, please the palate and sate an empty stomach. The menu is prix fixe, starting with three courses. If you find it difficult to choose from among the restaurant's myriad bottles of wine, the knowledgeable wait staff is happy to suggest a selection sure to complement your food. Atmosphere is formal, so jackets are suggested for men, and sandals, sneakers and t-shirts should be avoided. This restaurant is a recipient of two Michelin stars.

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Inspired by chef and owner Sharon Ardiana's unique Italian family, Gialina sets itself apart by serving delicious, home-style Italian meals that come from the Emilia-Romagna area. Chef Adriana makes use of the freshest ingredients in her ever-changing menu, one that she feels reflects the kinds of food that she grew up on. The menu is simple, but the choices are exquisite. Options available include daily roast specials and hot pizza pies such as a three cheese Margherita or Puttanesca, which is topped with anchovies, capers, chilies, and herbs. And don't forget to check out their delectable dessert menu (but not until after your dinner!) The wine list is good, the service is excellent, and the food is unbeatable.

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Local publications are always suggesting that tourists drop by here for at least a quick bite. Prize-winning columnist Herb Caen talked about this place with the highest regard, encouraging you to visit and enjoy every bite of your hearty meals. This is Firenze By Night, the restaurant serving some of the best Italian treats. A peek into the kitchen will have you wondering what those countless beads of potato are going to turn into, until you realize this is what everyone is buzzing about: gnocchi! These melt-in-your-mouth dumplings are served in a creamy tomato sauce with a variety of toppings. Other specialties to try out include pappardelle Toscana, capon stuffed with fontina and prosciutto and the wonderful Bistecca alla Fiorentina. A full bar menu is available with a great selection of wines.

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For his second venture in San Francisco, chef and restaurateur Tony Gemignani re-visits the 1920s prohibition era and comes out with a themed eatery with exposed red bricks, beautiful mahogany bar and red leather booths as its decor. So much is its association with that era, that the name itself is borrowed from the era's most notorious mafia families. However, just like any great restaurant in the making, the center-piece here is the food, which comprises Chicago-style pizzas that are served in deep dish, stuffed, cracker-crust, and cast-iron deep dish style. The restaurant's most prized dish is the Quattro Forni, prepared so extensively, that the chef swears to serve it only 20 times a day. Complementing your meal is the excellent selection of close to 100 whiskeys. So be it with your date, or a group of friends, Capo's is an ideal dining retreat for all.

Delfina is tiny but very popular, which generally means it is packed and quite loud inside. Luckily, you will not need to say much except, "This is really good!" and "I would like another order of this," both of which can be conveyed with hand gestures and facial expressions. Seafood dishes are the highlights of the menu. So are the pastas, risottos and vegetarian specialties. Save room for dessert, which features the awe-inspiring Panna Cotta that is a homemade religious experience. The service is terrific.

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Caffe Sport is a popular North Beach establishment patronized by celebrities, tourists and locals. The restaurant is vibrant and artistic. Majolica tiles and brightly-colored paint cover tables, benches and walls. Folklore-inspired knick-knacks hang to the left and to the right. It specializes in Sicilian cuisine, offering a variety of pasta and seafood dishes. The pasta is topped with gourmet goodies like Italian cheeses, shrimp, scallops, lobster, zucchini and garlic. With seafood stew, steamed mussels and chilled crab salad available, fish lovers will have a hard time deciding what to order.

Enotecas are popular wine libraries or wine bars in Italy where locals socialize over good wine and food. Located in the Lower Haight, Uva Enoteca is a humble eatery with a rustic and homely ambiance. The interiors perfectly complement the food, with marble counter tops, brick walls and red cedar tabletops and proves to be a blend of earthy tones and modern charm. Traditional Italian cheeses like the ubriaco, tallegio, cremosina and high quality meats like bresaola, coppa and porchetta dominate the menu. You will also find a range of fresh dishes and antipasti, thin-crust pizzas and gourmet pastas that bear Italian origins with the chef's signature twists. The dining experience is incomplete without the classic desserts and bespoke wines which are served in traditional quartinos.

This pizzeria is a Richmond District institution. For years, local food critics have cited it as having some of the best pizza in the city. The restaurant is decorated in a spattering of red, green, and white and vinyl booths are covered with checkered tablecloths. Pizza is thick-crust and overflowing with traditional pizza toppings, and a selection of local wines is available. Special nights include Kids Make-Ther-Own-Pizza Night and Mangia Mucho Monday (all you can eat, with drink specials.)

Bella Trattoria is just the place for pasta lovers. Stop by and enjoy homemade pasta in a neat, golden-beige ambiance while you listen to some jazz music. Little wonder then, that the San Francisco Chronicle has featured Bella Trattoria in its list of San Francisco's Top 10 Trattorias. The Italian menu includes lip-smacking delicacies, such as insalata di cesare, spaghetti pomodoro, sorrentina, pesce spada and more.

This eatery has been critically acclaimed as one of the best restaurants in San Francisco. Radiating a hip and fun neighborhood restaurant feeling, it makes both regulars and first-timers feel at home. The dining room is cozy and the atmosphere is low key. The best dishes are relatively simple Italian recipes that highlight quality ingredients. Try the tagliolini tossed with shrimp, tomato and arugula, the gnocchi and the tasty appetizers. For desserts, treat yourself to a bowl of rich Italian gelato with whipped cream and an espresso. The wine list features Californian and Italian selections of varying prices.

Lupa Trattoria is as good as it gets for Italian food in the region. It is an authentic Italian trattoria that uses the freshest of ingredients and seasonal specialties. The mastermind behind this restaurant is Chef Stefano Coppola, whose wholesome approach to cooking comes from his hometown of Rome. The restaurant has two menus; a regular one and a special menu of antipasta, pasta, soup and the main course. Sink your teeth into the agnello al balsamico: the grilled rack of lamb with mashed potato, baby carrots and spinach.

Tucked away between two buildings in upscale Presidio Heights, Sociale is an intimate restaurant serving Northern Italian fare. Black and white photographs adorn the interiors and a petite bar makes for a comfortable yet sophisticated ambiance. While you're here, try the Stuffed Pork Roast stuffed with chewy, herby sausage bits and veggies or the pasta swirled with pesto and sautéed vegetables. The wines on offer go wonderfully with the cuisine, and to complete your dining experience, go for the Chocolate Oblivion Cake. Once you have visited, you will see why despite its small size, Sociale is big on popularity!

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