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if you could only eat at one SF North Beach Restaurant?!

if you could only eat at one SF North Beach Restaurant?!

Oct 22nd, 2009, 04:50 PM
Original Poster
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if you could only eat at one SF North Beach Restaurant?!

We are Italian. We've grown up eating amazing Italian food. Have been to Italy twice. We are also lucky to have Boston's North End nearby for dinner anytime!
Where should we go to eat in North Beach???! would prefer entrees under $25. thanks!
LizaMarie is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2009, 05:10 PM
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Can't wait for an answer!
beachkomer is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2009, 06:03 PM
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Well I have only eaten one - Rose Pistola. It was very good.

Now I am not from San Fransisco so I would love to hear any opinions from locals.

kona514 is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2009, 06:04 PM
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E' Tutto Qua
270 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133-4518
(415) 989-1002


We had a Fodors GTG there in March 2008 and it was excellent. The company was great, and the food was too!

DebitNM is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2009, 06:37 PM
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Hello LizaMarie, here is another restaurant in North Beach that the great majority of people including many Fodorite's like very much.


It is owned by Maurizo from S. Italy. The waiters are all from Italy. It would be in your budget. Many Fodorite's that have eaten at the Mona Lisa go back again and again. All Italian restaurants "Americanized" their food to please the Americans palate but my son-in-law born and raised in Rome prefers the MonaLisa over the other Italian restaurants he has visited.

And Deb's suggestion is a good one also..and we did have a fun and lovely GTG!
LoveItaly is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2009, 07:16 AM
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I like North Beach Restaurant. It is a little more "formal" than most of the places on Columbus, but prices are in your range. Good selection of seafood, in addition to the traditional Italian fare.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Oct 23rd, 2009, 07:59 AM
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Happy to see another recommendation for the North Beach Restaurant. It was a favorite of ours when we lived out there and was one of the first places we wanted to go when we returned for a vacation in 2006--we had a wonderful meal there that trip! Our kids (then 18 and 14) still talk about it. And the cute Italian waiters don't hurt either!
musicfan is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2009, 08:14 AM
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We had a family dinner at North Beach, another vote here
Dayenu is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2009, 10:30 AM
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It all depends.

For basic, wonderful Italian, my current favorite is Sodini's Green Valley on Green Street. No coffee, no dessert. Just lots of good pasta, aroma of garlic and scent of basil.

Try looking at the reviews for the recommended restaurants on either Chowhound or Yelp. Lots more opinions on those websites to help you with your decision.

Buon Appetito!
easytraveler is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2009, 10:41 AM
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North Beach Restaurant and Mona Lisa are good Italian-American restaurants in North Beach if that is the style you are looking. Since you mentioned North End restaurants, I suspect that is what you are looking for. However, if you are looking for something non-Italian/American in North Beach, my favorite Italian restaurant in North Beach is Albona, which features Istrian Penninsula foods.
SAB is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2009, 11:35 AM
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A word~as you grew up eating amazing Italian food and have the North End at your fingertips, SF Italian food may well disappoint. We make a point of eating Italian in NYC as we miss that quality of food here in SF. I'd probably opt for foods you may not have as much of in Boston~good Mexican, Vietnamese, good Chinese and the like. My godson goes to Northeastern and says he dreams about the burritos here at home. The Mission District of SF has all sorts of exciting and good places at which to sample Latin food. SF Chinatown abutts North Beach and there are some real experts on this board regarding dim sum(hopefully, easytraveller will check in).

Depending on when you will be here(if mid-late November on), you might also have some Dungeness crab. It's very different from Eastern seabord crabs. Pacific NW wild salmon is also very different from Atlantic Salmon.

Let us know if any of this sounds interesting to you.

BTW~I so recommend you visit St Peter and Paul in North Beach.
It is a lovely church and the siant's niches are amazing.(St Lucy with her eyes on a plate for instance).
PamSF is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2009, 01:43 PM
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We liked Ristorante Ideale - had some very good pasta carbonara there!
mouseRD is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2009, 04:11 PM
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thank you all so much for your replies so far! I am going to look into reviews for all the above mentioned restaurants and narrow it down

PamSF - I definitely want to try out North Beach and see what they offer compared to Boston's North End and of course Little Italy in NYC (I grew up in Brooklyn!) and wouldn't want to skip it just b/c I've had great Italian food and have access to it. But that's why I am only wanting to go to one place. I also plan on checking out Chinese - probably dim sum plus a dinner as well, I love Chinese and agree Chinese food in Boston just is not the best at all! so I am looking forward to SF Chinatown!! I did start a sepearate past a while back for recs for dim sum. also will definitely be checking out Mexican/Latin food and the crab for sure (my hubby is most looking forward to the crab!! me not so much!) so we will definitely cover Chinese, Mexican, Crab and Italian - all the important food groups, LOL, and then after that I don't think we have an more room in our bellies or nights free for dinner!
LizaMarie is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2009, 05:55 PM
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agree with PamSF. North beach is too toursity. Not a place I go for good Italian. Now Mescalanza out in the Richmond District on Clement was fab the fast few times I have been there but that has been a couple of years now so hopefully it is still good and still there!
Shar is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2009, 09:09 PM
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If you want to consider Italian food outside of North Beach, try Incanto or Delfina.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Oct 23rd, 2009, 10:55 PM
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or A16

if we could go out of North Beach...
easytraveler is offline  
Oct 24th, 2009, 12:07 AM
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PamSF: almost missed your comment. Thanks for the reco.

The best Chinese food (non dim sum) in Chinatown is currently at the R&G Lounge on Kearney. Try their crab (about $30-$35 each).

For dim sum in SF Chinatown:

There's always Yank Sing which is more in the Financial District. Safe and clean, but expensive.

The Chinese themselves go to New Asia on Pacific. Further down the list are Meriwa (is it still there? last time there was a lot of scaffolding outside and the restaurant was closed) also on Pacific or Gold Mountain on Broadway. These are relatively large restaurants (you don't want to get dim sum from a hole-in-the-wall, no matter how distinguished the restaurant critic that recommended it!).

Better dim sum is outside of Chinatown at Mayflower on Geary (around 24th, opposite the gold onion-domed Russian church). No cart experience, but dim sum is fresh and tasty.

Best dim sum is at Koi Palace in Daly City -which is really taking you outside of SF Chinatown! On a weekend, if you go at 10am be prepared for an hour or two wait time.

Don't go to Ton Kiang, which i see recommended over and over again. First of all, it's not Cantonese, it's a Hakka restaurant. Secondly, it's too small and so the dim sum is not fresh enough.

Do not expect fawning service. The wait staff is there to provide you with all your needs for a good dining experience, they are not there to plead for a larger tip. Your communication with the waiter should be brief and to the point. The moment you are led to your table, look at the waiter in the eye and order your tea -"KOK BOW" is usually what is drunk with dim sum or you can order just the flower tea (non-caffeinated) "KOK FA". At the same time, tell him how many forks you need and how many cokes, 7Up, waters you want. He'll nod and go away to get your order. During the time of dining, if your teapot becomes empty, merely lift up/tilt the teapot lid to indicate that you're out of tea, no other communication is necessary. At the end of the meal, wave at your waiter and make a writing motion with your hand. He'll bring you the check. This is the sum total of your needs to communication with the waiter.

The rest of the time, you will be asking the cart ladies what they have on their carts and make your food orders with them. Most do not speak English. Good luck communicating with these ladies! Don't be shy. If you want to know what they have, ask them to lift up the covering lids. If they try to push a dish on you, just say no.

If your party is large, you may have to communicate with the waiter one more time. After he brings you your drinks and forks, tell him you want a dish of beef/pork/seafood fried rice/chow mein. This is for those (and there will always be at least one or two in a large party) who won't eat dim sum and will need a "standard" Chinese dish like fried rice.

The best time to go to a dim sum restaurant (on a weekday) is around 11:15-11:30am. By then, yesterday's dim sum would have be served and the fresh new stuff is coming out on the carts (You absolutely do not want yesterday's dim sum!). After 11:30am and you're in for a wait for a table.

Good luck and happy, happy dining!
easytraveler is offline  
Oct 24th, 2009, 06:12 AM
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Incanto or Delfina will definitely provide you with better food than anyplace in N. Beach,imho. (Incanto is in Noe Valley and Delfina is on 18th in the Mission/Castro neighborhood)

A16 has stellar meatballs. It's in The Marina.
PamSF is offline  
Oct 24th, 2009, 06:17 AM
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Being an Italian, born and raised in SF, here are my rec's, similiar to many above.
The North Beach Restaurant, try to get a table downstairs, it's much more "Italian" This is a very nice restaurant, it's been here forever.
L'osteria Forno
A small place on the main street, maybe 8 tables, they only have an oven, hence the name, good "Italina Mom" cooking. This is my #1 choice if I want casual, good home cooking
For something a little different, same area, how about South American Italian????
Mangarose, very good, fun place, they have latin dancers some evenings.
Delfina, A16 and Incanto, three of my favorites although not in North Beach but worth the cab ride. Like others have said, NB has become very touristy and isn't quite as Italian as it once was.
susanna is offline  
Nov 29th, 2009, 09:23 AM
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just to update....
will post a trip report soon!

we wound up eating dinner at Ristorante Ideale, thanks mouseRD for the suggestion.

DH had one of the specials - homemade ravioli made with fresh porcini mushrooms, and it was excellent. I had the pasta with brocoli rabe which I thought was outstanding. the service was great, the bread was OK. the waiters spoke Italian. I felt I got my North Beach experience, just to see what it was like and compare it to Boston and NY.

also I ate lunch alone one day at Mario's Cigar Shop at the bar. Delicious foccacia sandwich with grilled eggplant. nice that you can choose to only get half a sandwich. I seriously could have eaten there everyday, that one taste I had was so good. Staff was nice too. Sad DH never got to eat there as he would have loved it.

Also in North Beach, a friend and I went to Mama's for brunch. We both had eggs bene, I had the vegetable one, she had florentine. both excellent. great place, breakfast all day, but they have lunch food too. definitely a must go to in North Beach, though not Italian! cash only, and you have to order in line, pay, then wait for a table to sit at.
LizaMarie is offline  

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