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Jun 9, 2005 12:50 AM

Italian Restaurant Suggestions (SF/North Beach)

  • c

We're going to the Purple Onion on Thurs. night (tomorrow night) and before going there, we'd like to go to a nice Italian restaurant (nothing too fancy, but very nice - moderately priced). We don't care as much about the decor as we do about the quality of the food.

We prefer southern Italian cooking (red sauces, etc.).

Thanks for any suggestions!!!

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  1. L'Osteria del Forno is a small, casual place you might enjoy. If they have the milk braised pork as a special that night, it's worth ordering.

    519 Columbus Avenue
    (415) 982-1124


    2 Replies
    1. re: Edie
      Robert Lauriston

      L'OdF is the best inexpensive Italian in North Beach. No red sauce that I recall, for that matter no pasta except baked, but lots of other good things.

      1. re: Edie

        NOTE !!! NOTE !!! NOTE !!!

        This is a 2005 topic that someone added a comment to in 2009. It is a good comment so I wanted to add a link. Anyway, doesn't seem like much changed in North Beach in all these years.

      2. There are very few Southern Italian (red sauce) restaurants in North Beach or even San Francisco.

        Go back to the chowhound home page and do a search for North Beach. You will find many helpful suggestions already available to you as your question get asked quite often on this board.

        North Beach Italian restaurants to consider include Tommaso's, Ideale & Panta Rei.

        1. Gotta say, best red sauce place I've been to is Tommasso's (Kearny at Broadway). I'm addicted to their ravioli with housemade sausage and red sauce.

          It's popular with tourists and local alike, so there will likely be a wait. If you choose this place, plan accordingly.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Absonot
            Robert Lauriston

            Tommaso's has some of the best pizza in California, but I've never been happy with their pasta.

            Though my pasta prejudices were formed in Rome, not New Jersey.


            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Have you ever tried either the pasta with calamare or with broccoli, two of the most reliable and delicious dishes I've been eating at Tommaso's for more years than I'll admit?

              1. re: Fine
                Robert Lauriston

                I make those sorts of pasta dishes at home all the time, so I never order them in a restaurant.

                I don't remember what pastas I've tried at Tommaso's. Occasionally someone I'm with insists on ordering pasta there, so far very unimpressed.

          2. Ideale is great but not Southern Italian.

            Caffe Macaroni Sciue Sciue at 124 Columbus is the restaurant above the Purple Onion. It's a fun, casual place with reasonable prices. It's small and nothing fancy for sure but they have some tasty Neopolitan and Naples style dishes.

            I have only had the excellent pizza at Tommasso's so I can't recommend it for pasta but the restaurant is a classic.


            1 Reply
            1. re: Dean Curtis

              The Caffe Macaroni menu looked good amd very reasonably priced. Am I remembering correctly that they also occasionally serve horsement? Or did that go the legislative way like foie gras?

              And they posted that they require a $15 minimum on a credit card. Minimums aren't allowed. It is tricky, though, because you, the customer, are a third party beneficiary of the contract between the restaurant and the credit card company. I called Visa once about Coit Liquors [Union and Columbus] minimum charge policy. I never got a response, but the next time that I went into Coit, the minimum charge sign was gone.

              I like Ristorante Milano [Hyde & Pacific] because they seem like a group that has been together for a while and they really just want you to have an enjoyable meal. I got zero attitude when I requested that they leave the basil out of my appetizer of tomatoes and mozzarella.

              And one of the reasons that I like Amerena [Larkin and Green] is that they don't have the staff at the end of the shift set up the tables, including wine glasses, for the next day. It is a pet peeve of mine, to think that my wine glass has been collecting dust for 16 hours before I dine. I haven't ever eaten at Allegro [Jones and Broadway], but I have walked by it at noon and seen the tables all laid out for dinner.

            2. BF (New Yorker from a Sicilian family) recommends Original U.S. Restaurant on Columbus for a red-sauce place.

              We would both recommend you stay away from Panta Rei. Overpriced and not great. For better (really really good) penne vodka sauce, hit Steps of Rome -- though the whole experience will be much, much louder.

              Amy H.