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May 18, 2005 08:01 AM

best italian

  • n

i am looking for what you chowhounds consider the best italian in the city. i only have one meal to do italian and i want something yummy! i was thinking incanto, A16, kuletos or l'osteria but wanted your opinions. oh and by the way i do have the book but was hoping for a little fodder amoung the hounds. thanks.

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  1. r
    Robert Lauriston

    A16 and Incanto are to my taste the best Italian in SF proper, very different menus and atmosphere. Delfina's a bit similar to A16, not as strictly Italian. Oliveto in Oakland (two restaurants) is the best in the Bay Area, but my favorite restaurant these days is still Incanto, partly due to its superior all-Italian wine program.

    l'Osteria dal Forno's the best in its low price range, with the possible exception of Dopo in Oakland, which I think costs a bit more.

    Kuleto's is OK for the neighborhood but not a destination.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      if you like italian wine and food you should try
      Da Flora in north beach. All italian wines great food
      very good. i'm surprised none of you have been there

      1. re: Darren

        I really dislike Da Flora. The only decent dish is her rich gnocchi. Her pastas are overcooked and over sauced. She renders a poor attempt at doing Veneto dishes with Austrian influences. The wine list offers bottom end wines at horrible markups. Some people find the dusty room romantic and cute, but for me it is just stuffy. It is not nearly in the same league as Olivetto, Incanto, Delfina, or A16. In fact, it is not in the same level as Osteria del Forno.

      1. re: sensi63
        Robert Lauriston

        Acquerello's tasting menu with wine pairing is one of the great values in town, but to me the food has such a heavy French accent that I don't think of it as Italian.

      2. I would second the A16, Incanto recs. Osteria del Forno is good for the price, but I have never been a fan of their pork in milk dish and think the rest of the food, while good, is not great.

        1 Reply
        1. re: oakjoan
          Robert Lauriston

          I love L'Osteria's pork in milk. It's just like we make at home from Marcella Hazan, only you don't have to think as far ahead.

          Their porcini pizza's worth a detour, but you don't have to commit to a whole meal to try that.

        2. A16 is the best choice. Authentic Southern Italian cuisine coupled with a deep and very reasonably priced wine list. For restaurants in the City, Shelley Lindgren, the general manager and wine director, is the only sommelier that I pay attention to when selecting a wine.

          3 Replies
          1. re: JonesWineNo1
            Robert Lauriston

            A16's wine list and by the glass selection are great, but Incanto's list is much broader and deeper.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Regarding the Italian sections on both lists, Incanto's wine list is certainly broader because it draws wines from all over Italy rather than just the bottom half. Whether that is a big deal or not really depends on whether a diner wants to pair Northern Italian wines with Southern Italian cuisine. I don't so the fact that I can't order a Barolo at A16 but can at Incanto does not mean anything to me at all. Regardless, I much prefer the A16 wine list (and A16 the restaurant) despite Incanto's more broad coverage of Italian wines in general.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Incanto's wine list is broader but not really deeper. A16 has the deepest selection of top quality Southern Italian wines in the Bay Area, if not the U.S. For example the depth of offering from Campania alone is amazing. I am with Jones on this one. I much prefer the food and wine at A16. Was just at Incanto two weeks ago, and the carbonara was awful. The fresh pasta became a rag soaking up the eggs, and the mushrooms added nothing. There is a reason why classics should not be messed with. On the same vein, the fava bean and strawberry salad at Incanto was a waste of very good favas and strawberries. That combo is not Italian at all.