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Dec 11, 2007 07:23 AM

Looking for Italian Grocery/Specialty Stores in SF

I'm looking for recommendations on the best Italian grocery/specialty stores in SF. We've been going to Molinari's for years, but are curious about other options.

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  1. I like Lucca Ravioli Company closest thing to the East Coast working class type of Market and deli- good assortment of cheeses prosciutto, porchetta, olives, fresh breads. They carry lots of dried pastas and canned good, oils, wines and so on.
    Valencia @ 22nd in the Mission.

    Pasta Gina in Noe Valley is a great little spot topick up things to make an easy meal. I like their meatballs and sauce.

    Lucca Delicatessen on Chestnut

    3 Replies
      1. re: Lori SF

        A nice neighborhood Italian Deli is Sorrento in the Excelsior district. I enjoyed it when I lived briefly in the area. It is also a good excuse to stop at New Royal Bakery next door.

        Royal Bakery with the window full of bread critters (alligator, turtle and such), straw baskets filled with loaves of bread watched over by a white statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe has bread that equals any of the North Beach Bakeries, at lower prices.

        While I don’t consider it Mexican, despite presence of the Virgin, on Friday’s they make some Mexican pan dulce and churros. Haven’t tried those but I liked the Italian bread, foccacia and sourdough a lot.

        From all reports it seems the best time to go to Royal is early in the morning.

        Here’s links to previous reports about Sorrento and Royal. They were sold a few years ago, but according to this report …

        “Sorrento is even better than they were. They have a much larger and much more interesting cheese section, including that really good fresh ricotta in the pails and lots of interesting Italian cheeses, their sandwiches are much better, and their olives (especially the huge green ones) are really delicious. They still carry the fabulous fresh Italian sausages from the folks who used to own Gloria delicatessen in North Beach and from Molinari as well as a very nice selection of salumi from a number of different quality sources. And, by the way, Angelo, the old owner, still comes by and sometimes subs for workers who are sick or have appointments. It's always fun to talk to him.

        Excelsior Report

        Sorrento Deli, on Mission, between Persia and Russia, has some very nice San Francisco made deli meats, including a fantastic pistachio mortadella and good copa and sopresata.

        I agree totally that Sorrento is a wonderful deli. I particularly like their small but good cheese section that includes both Italian and California-made Italian-style cheeses. The Teleme, dry jack and fresh ricotta are particularly good. Their salumi is mostly made by Molinari, but I think that the pistachio mortadella is Italian-made. They also sell really good olives (particularly the green ones) and excellent fresh Italian sausage from two suppliers, Molinari and the folks who used to own Gloria Delicatessen in North Beach. And they now make excellent sandwiches, many pre-designed and offered on a blackboard at the counter. Of course, you can also design your own sandwich.

        Franklin's Teleme at Sorrento Deli, SF

        This is just another time that I've been impressed with Sorrento Deli's quality service and product selection. It's not a huge place, but they carry lots and lots of good things.

        Impossible quest? - Calabro ricotta

        Rumiano Cheeses - They're Good!

        Royal Bakery

        Fresh Churros - Royal Bakery in the Excelsior Dist. (SF)

        Sorrento Delicatessen
        4763 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94112

        New Royal Bakery
        4773 Mission St, San Francisco, CA

        1. re: Lori SF


          Pasta Gina
          741 Diamond St, San Francisco, CA 94114

        2. A.G. Ferrari is a local chain that specializes in imported Italian foods. I go to Molinaris for the ravioli, these guys for specialty items like chestnut honey and anchovies packed in salt

          1. Lucca Ravioli (on Valencia@22nd) is well worth a visit. It is a nice store and it has its own parking lot(!).

            A.G. Ferrari has several stores in SF and the Bay Area. They are certainly more up-market than Molinari's or Lucca, but you may find some high-end items there you will not see elsewhere.

            4 Replies
            1. re: DavidT

              I love the Lucca on Valencia -- just be aware it's VERY crowded on Sat and closed on Sun. (They have fresh ricotta and very good prices.)

              1. re: walker

                Lucca on Valencia. Can't say enough good things about it. I just came back with some more of the reasonably priced white wine that I bought there yesterday and ended up totally loving (Masciarelli Trebbiano d'Abruzzo 2004). Fantastic neighborhood place staffed by a bunch of really knowledgeable and congenial guys. I was told that they sell more Fernet Branca out of that store than any other store in SF. They try to keep their prices reasonable. My husband likes the cheap Julia grappa they sell.

                They actually will be open for a few hours on Sunday, 12/23.

                1. re: Atomica

                  And beware trying to go on December 24th. It usually a madhouse w/ lines way out the door.

              2. re: DavidT

                I agree about Ferrari being the place to pick up high-end items not found elsewhere. They have a decent cheese selection and will let you taste. Also there's a nice little wine selection. Some of the deli items are quite good ... of course everything is quite pricy.

                Just a few previous A G Ferrari links

                Acme vs. AG Ferrari's Fraccaro panettone report

                A.G. Ferrari's torta al cioccolato -- YUM!

                Road test of the Ferrari Pancetta

                A G Ferrari
                468 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                A G Ferrari
                688 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105

                A G Ferrari
                3490 California St, San Francisco, CA 94118

              3. Joe,

                Since you have been going to Molinari's for years, can you give us any tips? Given the season, any special items to look out for at Christmas time?

                Have you been to Mastrelli's, Molinari's outpost in the Ferry Building and how did you think it compared? I love the house-made Italian sausage at Mastrelli's, which I imagine is also sold at Molinari's. IMO, it beats any fancy-dancy sausage in the Bay Area.

                Speaking of the Ferry Building have you been to Preferiti di Boriana which specializes in Tuscan products. All I've had were the bombolini which were fabulous. I keep wanting to get over there to check out the store.

                Molinari Delicatessen
                373 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                Boriana's Tuscan Market
                Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                Mastrelli's Delicatessen
                1 Ferry Bldg # 47, San Francisco, CA

                1. So how do people feel about Palermo's vs Molinari's ... other than Palermo's is open on Sunday when Molinari is closed.

                  Never been to Palermo's. Is it more of a sandwich shop than a grocery store?

                  It seems the thing to get there is the arrancini, stuffed peppers, San Francisco Pride crab sandwich and Italian combo ...with a side of macaroni salad. Best choice of bread for sandwiches and panini's seems to be ciabatta (from Italian French Bakery) and Liguria focaccia

                  I've read the the following are also good
                  Italian Roast Beef
                  Meatball with our homemade sauce
                  Chicken Breaded Cutlet with lettuce and tomato
                  Eggplant Parmesan marinara sauce with melted mozzarella

                  Anyone tried the roast chickens they have occasionally? Anyone know how often they are available

                  Previous Chowhound mentions

                  Me, North Beach, and Caffe Puccini

                  Also, for lunch, try Palermo deli for the arrancini. They are really yummy and Molinari's doesn't carry them. They also have very good stuffed peppers

                  Palermo's Delicatessen's arancini--big tasty saffron rice balls with sauce, a cube of melty cheese and meat in the middle then rolled in bread crumbs and fried. Italian "fast" food.

                  Palermo for stuffed peppers, packaged cookies, and arancini

                  Palermo Deli in North Beach is OPEN!

                  The crab salad was amazing--basically just sweet, fresh Dungeness crab bound with a little mayonnaise. And the grilled eggplant was heavenly--very garlicky and smoky. I wanted to lick the plate after I ate it.

                  Crab Sandwich at Palermo Deli in North Beach

                  Palermo in north beach has an excellent assortment of really good salami and they carry fresh focaccia.

                  Where to buy Dried Salted COD or BACALAO?

                  Palermo Delicatessan sells bacalao. Bought some there a few months ago and it was really good. Beware, it's not a salty as some of the other bacalao that I've had.

                  Palermo Delicatessen
                  1556 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rworange

                    I like Palermo for sandwiches probably the best Italian style sandwiches in the city. They have some Salamis that are hard to find and that I have not seen at Molinari's or elsewhere. I love their Italian combo and they use fresh bread from the Italian bakery up the street. I think their sandwiches are better than Molinari's.

                    I had the crab sandwich way back when they first opened and I recall it being too sweet for me. But I like going there when I want a good sandwhich and I am in the area. Not much of a store as the other ones mentioned , but a great counter with good selection of meats and other items like rice balls! The staff is very nice as well.