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Where for Italain? Not too fancy, delicious, not too loud...

I will have several visitors in town this week for a big birthday.

Most nights we'll be doing fancy and/or celebratory things, but on Thursday there will be just (!!) 7 or 8 of us going out for dinner, including my parents.

I'd like something

-- not in North Beach

-- relatively quiet, or at least not noisy

-- accomodates a table for 7 or 8

-- not one of my regulars (which tend to be Pane e Vino, La Cicca, Sausage Factory, Jackson Fillmore, A16, SPQR)

-- straightforward food, preferably southern, nothing too fancy; several in the party have plainer tastes. So good fresh pastas, maybe a nice chicken parmigiana on the menu

I'm considering the following places right now, in this order

-- Capannina

-- Poesia (walking distance to my house, but have not tried)

-- Perbacco (which I know and love)

-- Delfina

nyone have a strong preference or alternative?

(I'd be interested in Flour+Water but it sounds like a scene and probably too tough to reserve)

Thanks!

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  1. Well,
    Perbacco is my favorite Italian outside Italy. Delfina is Number 2. Good luck getting a table for 8 at Delfina less than a week in advance.

    Right now, I'm liking Ristorante Milano. http://www.milanosf.com/menu.html Very neighborhood-y, but really quite nice. And also Amarena http://www.amarenarestaurant.com/inde... in terms of more 'traditional' home-made pasta type Italian places.

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    Perbacco
    230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

    Delfina Restaurant
    3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    Ristorante Milano
    1448 Pacific, San Francisco, CA 94109

    Amarena Restaurant
    2162 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

    9 Replies
    1. re: whiner

      I love Perbacco, but actually have only eaten there (twice) for their Italian Passover Seders.
      It's a *little* fancier feel than I'm after, but I might do it anyway, if they have a table.

      Delifna, yes, I know it's tough to get a table, and to be honest, it's not my favorite. But there are some visitors in the party that I think would like to try it; and so if there's a table I may do it.

      The menus at Milano and amarena are wrong for this group. I'd want to see at least one Parmigiana, Marsala, Milanese, or Picata on the menu.

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      Perbacco
      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

      1. re: pauliface

        Hmm. Those dishes are seriously out of favor in real Italian restaurants.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Except in NYC, home of the great Italian-American food many of us crave. I got at least five recs on the Manhattan board, including Torrisi Italian Specialties which is apparently reinventing the genre.

          My favorite eggplant parmesan here is the foccacia at Mario's Bohemian Cigar store, which I haven't had in far too long. Il Borgo usually satisfies the same urge, but not sure it's fancy enough for what you're describing.

          But it wouldn't be the first time northerners looked down on southerners.

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          Il Borgo
          500 Fell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

          1. re: Windy

            By "Italian restaurants" I meant not Italian-American, which can be great but I don't know anyplace around here that is.

            Menupages finds over 100 restaurants in SF that serve veal or whatever piccata.

            1. re: Windy

              Actually I said I do NOT want fancy.

              Il Borgo looks kind of perfect, menu-wise.
              Never heard of it.

              Is it good? With that menu, all it has to do is be better than The Sausage Factory and I'm so there...

              pauli

              1. re: pauliface

                Il Borgo was very trendy on chowhound several years ago -- there were even a couple of chowhound dinners. Haven't heard much about it since: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3090...

                -----
                Il Borgo
                500 Fell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                1. re: pauliface

                  Oh, absolutely better than Sausage Factory. chaddict famously described it as Lady and The Tramp decor, which always make me happy.

                  Everyone I've gone there with has loved it. The pastas are delicious. Cash only.

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                >> "Hmm. Those dishes are seriously out of favor in real Italian restaurants."

                Which is why I so often wind up at The Sausage Factory.

          2. Poesia is delightful. I've seen large groups there.

            1. If you were willing to reconsider North Beach, Da Flora might work.

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              Da Flora
              701 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

              1. Is Acquerello not southern enough? It meets all your other criteria.

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                Acquerello Restaurant
                1722 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                3 Replies
                1. re: bbulkow

                  Acquerello's so not southern it verges on French, and it's as fancy as Italian food gets in SF.

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                  Acquerello Restaurant
                  1722 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I love love love Acquarello, but it's way too fancy and expensive for this event.

                    1. re: pauliface

                      Yeah, I see the not-fancy in the header now.
                      Perhaps Acquerello's north-western italy. VERY western.

                      -----
                      Acquerello Restaurant
                      1722 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94109

                2. Big fan of Perbacco.

                  Too bad about the North Beach embargo, Ideale could have been a contender.

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                  Ideale
                  1315 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: steve h.

                    I would strongly suggest reconsidering North Beach in favor of Ideale OR Da Flora. Da Flora, especially, is so far on the outskirts that it doesn't have too much of the NB traffic.

                    Also a big fan of Perbacco, but it will cost more than either of those.

                    -----
                    Perbacco
                    230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                    Ideale
                    1315 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                    Da Flora
                    701 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                    1. re: Pei

                      My wife and I are big fans of Da Flora. We like Flora, who explained to us that she is from Austria and went to college in Venice where she learned to cook. Our last meal there was the closest to the meals we have enjoyed in our yearly trips to northern Italy over the past 12 years that we’ve found in SF. IMO her fine cooking is as far removed from “southern Italian” as one could find.

                      -----
                      Da Flora
                      701 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                  2. Rose's Cafe on Union Street is not in North Beach, not loud, not too fancy, and it is delicious. We like the focaccia, all of the salads and the pasta carbonara. Our table for four was comfortable - call and inquire if they have a table for eight.

                    Otherwise, Aperto Restaurant might fill the bill.

                    1434 18th St

                    (between Missouri St & Connecticut St)

                    San Francisco, CA 94107

                    Neighborhood: Potrero Hill

                    (415) 252-1625

                    www.apertosf.com

                    -----
                    Rose's Cafe
                    2298 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94123

                    Aperto
                    1434 18th St, San Francisco, CA

                    1. How about Ristorante Bacco in Noe Valley? Nice quiet room with a reliable menu.

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                      Ristorante Bacco
                      737 Diamond Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Calvinist

                        Good point. I always forget about Bacco, but it's where I'd take my mother.

                        1. re: Windy

                          It's where I always take my Uncle when he come in from Kansas City.

                      2. Gold Mirror Restaurant on Taraval has the old Italian Americanish kind of things you might like...it has been there forever...here's a link:

                        http://goldmirrorrestaurant.com/

                        1. How about Parma in the Marina District, just off Lombard. That is one of our favorite places. It is on the smaller size, family run, and can easily accomodate your requirements.

                          1. What about E'angelo's Italian Restaurant? I haven't been there since it was Eduardo's.

                            1. Hah! Well, there are a lot of great suggestions here and I will definitely try them -- especially looking forward to Il Borgo.
                              But my parents are arrived, and it turns out they are looking forward to a return to Pane e Vino, which has become a staple for their visits. So there we go...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: pauliface

                                Pane e Vino was great and my parents were very happy there.
                                They have a fantastic mixed antipasto, which I shared with my boyfriend, along with an order of pan fried sardines that were also great.

                                We lucked out because they had my favorite thing on the menu, their home made cavatelli, which was in a duck ragu. Terrific. (they don't always have this, maybe 1 out of every 3 or four times you go...)

                                For dessert we shared profiteroles (didn't taste), gelato (hooray pistachio), sorbetto (lemon is the winner here but for me it always is) and some tasty biscotti.

                                Also, note: They are very accomodating here. We had a largish party, the size of which kept changing, and they accomodated us on short notice. Good to know in this age where a lot of the top restaurants can be difficult to book. I understand this place may not be as good as some of those recommended here (though many many of them I have never tried), but it's nice to know I can easily get into a place I like so much...

                              2. I am surprised that no body mentioned the following restaurant:

                                http://cafealtanosf.com/

                                Seriously the food is wonderful, and it is nestled in Hayes Valley across the street from Suppenkuche and bar Jules for nice a quiet dining experience.

                                -----
                                Cafe Altano
                                602 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: indieboysf

                                  Cafe Altano was mediocre on my one visit. For my taste, the pastas and atmosphere are better at Il Borgo just a few blocks away.

                                  Michael

                                  -----
                                  Il Borgo
                                  500 Fell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                  Cafe Altano
                                  602 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102