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Feb 1, 2012 09:33 PM

SF restaurant featuring Cioppino

I am looking for a restaurant that serves the best cioppino stew in San Francisco. I would prefer it to be near the wharf or downtown SF. My Mom in visiting and has never been to SF. Any suggestions are welcome! Thanks!

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  1. You are going to get wildly different opinions but for starters, avoid the Wharf at all costs. Tourist food at best...

    Second, the best Cioppino is in North Beach which isn't far from the Wharf. I would put Sotto Mare up front, followed closely by Rose Pistola.

    Others will recommend Tadich Grill which is closer to downtown but you can't make reservations and your Mom might not want the wait...

    7 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      Pretty much true about Fisherman's Wharf, with the exception of Scoma's, who does an excellent "lazy man's" Cioppino.

      1. re: Civil Bear

        I'll second the Cioppino at Scoma's. One of the few things culinary at the Wharf that I truly enjoy.

        North Beach isn't far away, and Rose Pistola's Cioppino is the best, IMHO.

        1. re: Smitty1964

          I'll third Scoma's. I like the soup at Tadich better but the fish at Scoma's is stellar fresh. Scoma's is more like a thick tomato sauce and probably something you could share as it is a lot for one person to eat.

          1. re: rworange

            I fourth Scoma's, for all of their dishes. I think it's extreme to say that all restaurants at Wharf should be avoided at all costs. My family has been in SF for over 100 years and we love the Wharf.

      2. re: CarrieWas218

        it's quite good at Sotto Mare -- none of the fish or shellfish was overcooked when we had it, and all was high quality stuff that the tomato based stock did not obscure.

        1. re: moto

          I agree about Sotto Mare. A single order (@ $32 as I recall) was plenty for 2 people. I have not been to Tadich in several years, but that has been one of the dishes they do well.

          Note: Sotto Mare is very informal, does not take reservations, and does not have any entrees except fish and shellfish on their menu. I've been twice in the past few months (petrale sole the other time) and enjoyed in each time.

          1. re: Calvinist

            the pesto is actually surprisingly good, albeit very rich

      3. I haven't had it in a while but Rose Pistola's was my favorite. Haven't been to Sotto Mare yet to compare.

        Tadich's cioppino is not one of the dishes I consider safe there.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Agreed. The cioppino they served me was tasteless and watery.

          1. re: stanbee

            I guess Tadich is a restaurant where the food doesn't change much. Michael Bauer complained about their "cioppino problems" over 25 years ago.

        2. I haven't had it anywhere else for a comparison, but Sotto Mare's cioppino was a fantastic introduction to the dish. The $38 dish serves two and is packed with seafood. I guess the ingredients change depending on what's fresh, but it had cracked crab, clams, mussels, bay scallops, squid, and shrimp. There were also scarce amounts of penne rigate. All were nicely cooked. I don't know if it's because of the season, or if the crab are there more for seasoning than for their flesh, but I didn't care for the crab that much.

          The stew was hearty and delicious, and thicker than I would have expected. I'll definitely bring out of towners here again. And thank goodness there was a bib--- other than lobster e-fun noodles, I can't think of a messier dish.

          We also had petrale sole special and snapper, both of which were great. I'd steer away from the pasta dishes--- the fettucine was overcooked, and so was the broccoli that came with the fish dishes.

          1. I would not consider anywhere else but Sotto Mare.

            It is a small place and therefore very crowded. Sitting at the counter is an experience. Last month we sat downstairs (basement) and loved it especially because the walls were adorned with pictures of and items from the old New Pisa which was a fixture in the neighborhood until Sotta Mare took it over.

            Wonderful ciopinno and ask for more bread to soak up the fantastic juices. Split an order unless you are a prolitic eater.

            1. Now that crab's in season, we're thinking about a cioppino outing. Are Sotto Mare and Tadich still the best bets? Are there any new prospects?

              4 Replies
              1. re: Rapini

                At the moment there's no local crab due to the strike.

                1. re: Rapini

                  the crabbers' strike does not affect Sotto Mare because its owner has his own boats. confirmed this with him before we ate there this Sat. price and contents of the cioppino were the same as hyperbowler's in April, but of course the crab is now in season. a couple of other times we've had it there, fish came in the stew as well, but not this time. all of the seafood tasted quite fresh, lightly cooked, very tender. the crab was the largest we've enjoyed so far this season. the tall tureen of cioppino looks about 3000 ml.+ in volume, plenty for the two of us. we also shared a bowl of very good clam chowder, a side of linguine w. olive oil, garlic, red pepper, and a side of fresh veg. brought a bottle of aglianico del vulture (Vigne di Mezzo Efesto 2001, Feudi di San Gregorio) which was somewhat in the international style, in its prime drinking time, and complemented the food quite well. total after tax was just under $70. before tip. service as usual was courteous, not formal, quite prompt but not brusque.

                  1. re: moto

                    I'm skeptical that Sotto Mare owns its own boat. They don't mention it on their web site and they serve crab all year.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      discuss it with the owner yourself. he only needs to have a proprietary interest in a boat that defies or is outside the guild, locally, and use stuff from further north out of season.