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Best italian restaurant for Pasta in SF

  • m

Hi Hounds, I am in search of the most delecious pasta dishes in SF for Sat. night. I am thinking Restaurant Milano but is there a better restaurant for what I am on the hunt for or am I spot on? Thank you for your help in advance. Cheers, MW

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  1. I haven't been to Milano lately.

    Incanto, A16, La Ciccia, Antica Trattoria, and Delfina have great pasta.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Has anyone noticed if any of these restaurants serve gnocchi alla romana or orecchiette? I have yet to find either in the bayarea.

      1. re: Porthos

        For the gnocchi, I know that Chiaroscuro has it (I haven't tried it and I don't know if they have found their footing yet). Orecchiette I had at Ideale; others liked it, me not so much. They also serve them at Caffe delle Stelle, not my fave resto but who knows? Maybe they do this dish well...

        1. re: chaddict

          Chaddict and Melanie, how was the orecchiette prepared? With sweet sausage and rapini or in a tomato sauce...

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Sounds like a horrible version of orecchiette and pasta in general.

            2. re: Porthos

              Ideale-rabe; Caffe delle Stelle-potatoes and sage, IIRC.

          1. re: Porthos

            I've had orecchiette at Eccolo in Berkeley and Pizza Azzuro in Napa, neither version did much for me.

            1. re: Porthos

              Zuni used to have gnocchi alla romana fairly often, baked with cheese and butter, like the Marcella Hazan recipe. Haven't seen it on recent visits, now they usually have potato gnocchi.

              I've had good orecchiette at Incanto, A16, and Oliveto, variously with bitter greens or sausage.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I'm partial to the bitter greens/sausage versions myself. Please post the next time you see either available at any of the 3 restaurants. It's a shame Zuni stopped their alla romana. Maybe the demand wasn't there?

          2. I'd listen to Robert.

            1. Quince has the best pasta I've ever tasted. By far.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Paul H

                Second Quince. Delfina's great too, I love the pastas but think other things on the menu really star. Milano is also a great choice. Not all of their pasta is homemade, so you need to ask.

                1. re: Ken Hoffman

                  Quince, all the way...they have this ravioli with egg in it. TO DIE FOR.

                  1. re: christineb

                    if you like ravioli with egg in it - you should try the bacon and egg ravioli at two (previously hawthorne lane), so good!

                2. FWIW: The best gnocchi I've ever had (and I've spent plenty of time in Italy) was at A16. I don't mean the sauce. But the gnocchi themsevles -- never better.

                  1. I asked the exact same question 3 years ago. Today I would have to say:

                    1. Incanto for the hankerchief pasta with pork ragu and their gnocchi.
                    2. Oliveto (check online to see if anything interests you)
                    3. Quince.

                    While both Incanto and Oliveto are more rustic (Incanto more so), Quince is more refined and more northern italian in style. Depends on what you're in the mood for.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Porthos

                      Oliveto's one of the best. I didn't mention it because it's in Oakland--where Dopo also makes great pasta.

                    2. Bacco, on Diamond St. at 24th in Noe Valley, was always a delicious and reliable pasta place. Now that I live in Oakland I don't go there anymore, and I think it's star has been eclipsed by some of the newer places in town (and it's certainly possible that it isn't as good as it used to be). But I never had a dish there that wasn't yummy, and the service was always warm and helpful as well.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: jillyju

                        Reports on Bacco continue to be uniformly good. It's always been one of the best places for risotto.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          I agree on Bacco. Excellent homemade pasta and great risotto.

                      2. recently last Sat. night my b/f had a great pasta from Universal cafe.. all of our dishes were excellent but pleasantly surprise on the pasta. Otherwise, Antica Trattoria and Delfina would be my vote.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Lori SF

                          Anything special at Antica? Thinking of going there Thursday to "carb up" before a long weekend out of town.

                          1. re: mofo313

                            Pappardelle with wild boar, wow! be sure to get the beef Carpaccio, I could eat three plates of that.

                        2. Been to Milano's recently and had a great experience. We had the Sardine's as appt. and that was only ok. My friend had a homemade parpadelle was great - perfectly al dente and the sauce was rich and delicious. I had the halibut stew over soft polenta and that was nice too. The seafood was very fresh and the tomato sauce we so full of seafood flavor. All in all a good meal.

                          1. I realize I'm coming in late, but don't forget Da Flora - sublime sweet potato gnocchi and other pastas - my wife had really splendid ravioli w/ fresh corn on Saturday.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: zenduck

                              Really funny this is the last post because I saw the topic and my eyes dilated. Pasta is my favorite big guilty pleasure meal. I thought: Quince! Their pastas are divine, really well made. I was at Acquerello this past Saturday night and it was fantastic as usual, I don't know why that place isn't more jammed (off subject but slightly related to earlier mozzerella chain: they are currently serving an incredible burrata cheese dish with fava beans - flown fresh from italty and one of the best things I've tasted in a long time). Their gnocchi with kobe beef ragu and some lamb in there too was great. Their seafood risotto was excellent as well. I also recommend Da Flora and their signature gnocchi. Also, living in Russian Hill my local favorites are Antica and also the lesser known Amarena, formerly Baldoria. They do great simple pastas -- when I'm in the mood for some casual pasta I go there and get just the plain spaghetti with olive oil and tomatoes and they do it really well. And their bread is really good too. My husband loves Amarena's gnocchi alla sorentina, which they do with mozz and lamb. At Antica, where i actually dined solo tonight, I usually get the spaghetti di farro, just a bolognese but done right. And ironically they had an orrechiete special with broccoli rabe and garlic, olive oil, etc., and also had a truffle gnocchi special.

                              1. re: ashleys

                                Would any of these places be good for a large group, say 8-12 diners? Have a birthday dinner coming up soon...

                                Slightly off-topic but are there any places that offer a "wine dinner" similar to Indigo around town?

                                1. re: mofo313

                                  just had dinner at Chiaroscuro. I had the a tasting of the carbonara, amatriciana, and pesto alla trapanese (winter white pesto) and it was fabulous. I at at Delfina last night and really preferred Chiaroscuro as did my two colleagues who dined with me at both restaurants. I had the gnocci at Delfina and while it was quite good it didn't have the flavor or texture that the pastas I tried tonight. we also had a delightful waiter who patiently helped us make choices and the chef came out to see how we were doing. I highly recommend that pasta lovers give it a try!