Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Mar 5, 2008 05:17 PM

SF (or Bay Area) Authentic Sicilian Restaurant?

I'm looking for a recommendation for an authentic restaurant, preferably of high quality, that is dedicated to Sicilian food in the city. I know the whole A16 routine as a source for some Sicilian dishes but would like a deeper survey than our friends on Chestnut offer. Outside of SF is a second option but one that I'd be happy to entertain. Thanks.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I haven't been yet, but maybe a trip to the North Bay is in order.

    Mezzo Mezzo
    1025 C St, San Rafael, CA

    1. Caffe Sport in North Beach is Sicilian, but I haven't heard much about the food since the original Chef/Owner Antonio La Tuna passed away.

      Alioto's at (gasp) Fisherman's Wharf, is Sicilian.

      The humble U.S. Restaurant in North Beach is Sicilian. (The U.S.stands for "U; Siciliano".)

      Those are three I know about; but this is San Francisco, after all, where Northern Italian reigns.

      1. You might get on Incanto's mailing list for the special mattanza dinner.

        The food at Caffe Sport is nothing like what I had in Sicily.

        The owners of the Original US Restaurant may be of Sicilian extraction, but the food is strictly Nord Biccese.

        Reportedly Sicilian restaurants I haven't tried:

        Palermo's Restaurant
        1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA

        Belle Arti
        1040 Main Street, Napa, CA

        La Finestra Ristorante
        100 Lafayette Cir Ste 101, Lafayette, CA 94549

        17 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          The original owners of U.S. Restaurant were apparently actually Slavs (per the Chron's Original Joe's article link you posted recently) but only lately the U.S. started displaying "U; Siciliano" prominently on the window, so I assume it's the current regime that claims to be Sicilian. To tell the truth, I haven't eaten there since before the makeover of the original location (currently the Panta Rei site).

          1. re: Xiao Yang

            Does the current U.S. Restaurant actually make any claim to be Sicilian? The online menus on and are standard North Beach Italian, which is what the place always used to be, plus American breakfast and lunch dishes.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Here's an early report on the change to Sicilian ownership from GAW in 2004. I'll try and score a current menu and check it against what's published.


              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Smokescreen or whatever, here's the way the US currently presents itself. Note that the phrase "U; Sicilianu" are also at the top of the menu shown on the menu board.

              2. re: Xiao Yang

                "U.S." originally meant "Unione Sportiva". Not sure what that means, but that's what the old signs said.


                1. re: waldrons

                  That was the name of an athletic / social club across the street.

                  1. re: waldrons

                    U.S. (Unione Sportiva) is the name by which Sicily's main Football (soccer) club is referred to in its hometown of Palermo. Other Italians (and foreigners) refer to club as Palermo but to the locals its still the U.S.

                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                      The Unione Sportiva club was reportedly across the street when the U.S. Restaurant opened in 1907, at which time Palermo's team was still called il Football Club Palermo.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        It's now The Italian Athletic Club, and located on Stockton next to the :Post Offfice.


                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          The team was founded in 1902 and its name was & still is Unione Sportiva Citate Palermo.... but Sicilians always referred to it simply as the Unione Sportiva or U.S.... it was only non-Sicilians that called it IL Palermo

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Funny that the U.S.'s Sicilian roots should come up just now. Lidia Bastianich of "Lidia's Italy" recently did Spaghetti Pesto Trapansese, a dish I first experienced in Trapani, the Sicilian city it was named after. It involves chopping up almonds, garlic, tomatoes and hot pepper flakes with olive oil and I love it.

                    Anyway, this spurred a memory that I had spaghetti Trapanese a the U.S. restaurant a few years ago, and it appears they still serve it (with sausage). It's not something I've run into in very many restaurants and speaks of Sicilian roots.

                    1. re: TopoTail

                      Apparenty the original owner of the US was a Slav (and who knows what the"US" stood for then), but the Cippolinas, who owned it for 50 years prior to the regime change in 2004 were Sicilian (or at least the husband was) but put out that the "US" stood for "Unione Sportiva" and had a mostly mainland Italian menu (with some exceptions,as you noted). The current trio of owners (one of whom is Sicilian) have kicked up the Sicilian ID (with a map of Sicily on the window and turning the "US" into "U; Sicilianu"). Not sure what they've done with the menu to make it more Sicilian.

                      1. re: Xiao Yang

                        Looking closely at the long menu, I see about half a dozen Sicilian or Sicilian-influenced dishes.

                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                      To offer an update on Original U. S. Restaurant, I was there with my mom in September when she asked for spaghetti and meatballs. It was crowded at 6pm on a weekday and we scored the last table.

                      To start, the U.S. Salad that's garnished with marinated white beans, olives and red onions. The tomatoes were terrible considering the time of year.

                      I had the pasta Trapanese, my first time with this Sicilian dish. It doesn't show in the pastas listed in the online menu but does appear on the catering menu. Again, underripe and cottony tomatoes were a problem, and the scant toasted almonds were mostly slivers and sliced, whereas ground nuts would seem more appropriate. The flavor mostly came from olive oil and cheese. To its credit, the spaghetti was al dente.

                      We did like the spaghetti and polpette. Mom did complain that the pasta was too hard for her (just right in my book).

                      Did the sauce have the cinnamon spice that Zach laments here as missing? Dunno, I wasn't looking for it, maybe. I'll just mark this plate of spaghetti and meatballs as enjoyable and enough for two meals.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Hmmm... Does any north beach Italian restaurant use good quality fresh tomatoes when they're in season? I've had bad luck at a few places this year, e.g.

                        1. re: hyperbowler

                          Maybe Tony's or Rose Pistola?

                          Ideale served up a beautiful fresh tomato sauce in September,

                          1. re: hyperbowler

                            Cotogna's almost in North Beach and they use first-rate seasonal produce.

                      2. Ristorante mezzo mezzo in Marin. There are some mundane dishes but others such as the pasta with cauliflower, pine nuts, raisins, and saffron are great. I really like the sea bass with blood oranges and the rabbit too. Skip the apps.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Amy G

                          I bet if you called them and asked for certain or authentic off-menu specialties, they'll be happy to comply (with notice).

                        2. wasn't there some ultra old-school Italian joint on Taraval near the Safeway? and I seem to remember another way out on Noriega, but definitely red sauce and off the beaten path.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: hill food

                            Marcello's Restaurant
                            2100 Taraval St
                            San Francisco, CA 94116
                            (415) 665-1430

                            I haven't been there -- but I served on a jury with the owner!

                            1. re: Calvinist

                              ha! small world. Marcello's was what I was thinking of. Sicilian, I don't know (my ignorance).

                              1. re: Calvinist

                                Ristorante Marcello has a very northern menu: pasta Bolognese, veal parmagiana, prawns alla Livornese.