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Best pasta restaurant in SF?

  • s

I'll be going to San Francisco in July and was wondering where to go to have an amazing (not old school red sauce) pasta meal. My wife and I are big fans of the pasta tasting menu at Babbo in NYC. Anything similar?

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  1. Hands down, in my mind, Quince. The pastas are exceptional, creative and delicious. The setting is lovely and the service excellent. Overall, I couldn't recommend it more highly.


    1 Reply
    1. re: ccbweb

      Completely agree. Quince.
      In fact, I heard a rumour that Mario Batali said Quince pasta was the best pasta outside of Italy - not sure if he included his restos in that statement!

    2. Quince, for sure. Perbacco also does a nice job with pasta. But neither is as good as Babbo.

      1. Is La Traviata still as good as I remember it from years ago? I enjoyed their food a lot when we went.

        5 Replies
        1. re: AzDumpling

          We just ate at La Traviata a few weeks ago. I love that place and love going there, but the pasta is nowhere near Quince's league. But it's my very favorite east coast/red sauce kind of place.

          1. re: Absonot

            Thanks. I guess it has been ten years now that I think about it. I remember splitting a number of small pasta portions with my wife and we loved it. Perusing Quince's menu I can see they are not at all the same. I really do need to get back for another week as it has now been almost three years since we have been in the city.

            1. re: Absonot

              What are some good dishes to get at La Traviata? It's just a few blocks from my house and I want to remedy this.

              1. re: farmersdaughter

                The eggplant parm is really good as are the veal entrees. If you order an entree, I believe they throw in an intermediate course of tortellini in a delicious cream sauce (also on the menu separate). I used to go there all the time when I lived in the 'hood. Run by an Albanian (John is his name, I think). He was a lawyer in Albania when he inherited the restaurant upon the death of his uncle.

                1. re: farmersdaughter

                  I had their veal parm last time I went and wouldn't get it again -- one piece was really stringy, and I felt a bit of that omnivore's dilemma happening.

                  I usually get the chicken Beverly Sills, which has proscuitto and mushrooms and white wine. But all in all I've never really had a bad meal here.

                  I think once a salad was really overdressed, but usually everything is good. Even the bread they give you. And I really like the portions -- they aren't gigantic.

                  Fyi, you can get the tortellini with the cream or marinara sauce.

                  Oh, and their fried mozzarella is delicious!! If you've only ever had it in bars or chains, you're in for a treat.

            2. Quince is clearly the best. Vivande Porta Via on Fillmore is also quite good, but a good deal more casual.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Paul H

                The Missing Link

                Vivande Porta Via
                2125 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115

              2. Adding links

                230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                La Traviata
                2854 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                Quince Restaurant
                470 Pacific Av, San Francisco, CA 94133

                1. Incanto.

                  Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar
                  1550 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                  3 Replies
                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Have you had many pastas at Quince? I'm always curious to hear your perspective on the Incanto vs. Quince pasta question. To me, Incanto's strengths are cured meats, salads, mains, and a few specific pasta dishes. I think Quince's strength is definitely pasta, especially if you're looking for ingredients like fresh crab or foie gras. If I wanted to have a high-end meal of all pasta, or even a tasting menu of pasta, I'd go to Quince. If I want a more well-rounded and relaxed meal prepared exceptionally well, I go to Incanto.

                    2. Bacco in Noe Valley. All freshly made same day on premises.

                      Ristorante Bacco
                      737 Diamond Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: NoeMan

                        i meant to post about bacco and how great it was.

                        four of us ate there last monday and got the risotto, the long pasta (not spaghetti but similar) with shrimp and arugula, the gnocchi in cream sauce, and the fregola with seafood and saffron. we could not decide who had the best dish because they were all so good. i ordered the not-spaghetti, and it was excellent (i would happily get it again). however, my personal favorite was the fregola, mostly because i'm a saffron addict. another tablemate liked the light-as-air gnocchi the best, and another liked mine the best. the risotto at the time was scallop-saffron, and it was a bit one-dimensional, but nevertheless expertly cooked. it needed something though, maybe a fresh herb. cracked pepper helped.

                        all were wonderful pastas... wow, what a difference fresh pasta makes! and large portions too. even members of the clean-plate club like me couldn't totally finish the entree.

                        service was great, restaurant was quiet despite being busy (filing that away for future reference for dinners with my grandfather), and the wine list was fairly priced.

                        bonus: really great desserts. mango-raspberry (half/half) panna cotta was utterly plate-lickable with intense deep fruit flavor that wasn't too sweet, and the tiramisu was light, not too sweet, and a huge portion.

                        we would all go back, and soon.