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A16, Flour + Water, Delfina or Ideale...best family-friendly Italian?

Hey SF Hounds,

Making a visit to your lovely city in a few weeks and just trying to nail down the last dinner for our long-weekend.

We'll have our toddler with us on this trip, so I'd like to go somewhere we won't get the evil eye from other diners and where he'll be welcomed. He's generally a well-behaved kid, but he's 17-months old. He has his moments (we'll do our best to distract and entertain).

I figured Italian might be a nice option for us since we're doing La Folie (parents only!) on Saturday and doing the kid's night at luella on Sunday. Of these four, which do you think will be the best fit for us? We're staying in the Fisherman's Wharf area on this trip, so if any are closer to that area, I might go for it, just for convenience's sake. But ultimately--I'd like a good meal to close out our trip.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Flour and water but I wouldn't describe any of these as family friendly (much less toddler friendly).

    10 Replies
    1. re: olyolyy

      Grr. Okay. I appreciate that. I did a search on here and saw a couple of people mention Ideale as being toddler/kid friendly.

      If you've got any more recommendations to throw our way, I'd be open to them. I've never been to SF with a little one, so I'm trying to navigate as best I can.

      1. re: umwife11

        Don't worry about the anti-kid people in SF. There are tons of them. I have a 4 year old daughter and I have found that no matter where you go you will probably get the evil eye from someone in the restaurants here. It's not the most kid-friendly city. People love dogs more than kids. Just keep your little one entertained, don't let him wander around and go out side for any outbursts. Other than that, enjoy your dinner. I'd go to A-16 or Flour and Water with a little one. Go early.

        1. re: srr

          I have to laugh a little at how you said "People love dogs more than kids." My cousin just visited friends in SF and I asked her to check with them for recommendations on places to go with kids. She came back empty-handed and with the same thought: "My friends said there are more things to do in SF with their dogs than there are to do with their kids."

          So to hear that phrase again...hmm... :)

        2. re: umwife11

          I've eaten at flour and water many a time with my baby, go early, sit at the open communal tables and you should be fine. The staff is always super nice and the pasta and dessert are worth it! I'm not a huge fan of their pizza, find it on the dry side and would rather eat their pasta. For a more family friendly place I'll throw out zero zero, love their margarita pizza, aranici and fried chicken thighs. They have some great house sodas and cocktails too. Have fun!

          1. re: olyolyy

            If you want to go to Flour+Water, make a reservation. Otherwise you need to get in line long enough before they open at 5:30 that you don't have to wait for the second seating.

            Personally I'd go to Zero Zero, similar atmosphere and food, not as hard to get into.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              That's the one place I rarely make reservations for. They set aside very few slots for opentable.

              1. re: olyolyy

                I'm curious about your comment about resos. Do they only take them from OT? Can't one call the restaurant directly? Once I found out that OT gets paid $1/person for their work, I try to phone direct.

          2. re: umwife11

            i'd gladly choose to be seated next to a toddler over the adults we sat next to on our last flour+water visit ...

            just go wherever you want, and don't give it too much thought. all these places are casual enough and crowded enough that you're not going to stand out.

            1. re: umwife11

              I can't speak for the patrons, but the staff at F&W are super-accommodating to those with kids. We walked in on busy night with our then tiny baby (maybe 6 or 7 months old) and they gave us three seats at the bar (one turned upside down so we could rest our detachable car seat/stroller thingy on it), cooed at our baby when she briefly woke up, and made us feel 100% welcome. They were not at all impatient or put out that we were taking up an extra seat on a busy night with a non-eating customer.

              1. re: possumspice

                On a busy night at F+W without a reservation you won't get seated for an hour or two.

            1. re: Dustin_E

              Seriously? When I've been to A16, the clientele consisted mainly of dates and apparent auditions for the Real Housewives of SF.

              Caffe Baonecci and Tony's Pizza Napoletana, both in North Beach, have some of the best pizza in SF and I've seen kids in both (CB = roman style according to reports on this board, and TPN neapolitan). Personally, I like CB's pizza better than A16 or Delfina, both of which can be quite good.

              I've not been to Ideale, but based on it being in the tourist friendly North Beach, I would expect them to be used to having a fair share of families wander in.

              1. re: hyperbowler

                a16 would be easier than delfina or flour+water. random place in north beach would be easier than a16. douchey marina yuppies have kids too.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Yes, we're going on a Monday and since we're flying back home on Tuesday morning, we'll definitely be going early, around the 5:30, 6 p.m. range.

                1. re: umwife11

                  In that case, Ideale or BaoNecci.

                  I'd recommend La Ciccia, Pauline's, or Tommaso's, but they're all closed.

              2. I'd vote Flour & Water. Loud enough that a slightly fussy toddler won't be too much of a distraction. Also, they've done a couple of classes with Sprouts Cooking (kids classes), that my daughter has loved.

                1. Ideale or Tony's Pizza Napoletana would be my two best picks for family friendly. Flour+Water is too, but can be a zoo.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: scottca075

                    Tony's takes no reservations and can be a very long wait. We went on 7:30 on a Sunday and the wait was an hour and 45 (accurately predicted by the hostess).

                  2. Ideale. It's close to the Wharf, and the one time I was there with a little guy they were more than accommodating-- prepared a simple pasta off-menu and so forth for him. Beyond that, I just really like the place all-around.

                    1. I like A16 a lot but the bar is extremely popular, the restaurant is frequently packed to the gills and quite noisy. In short, toddler hostile.

                      Ideale, while in North Beach, is on Grant so it's a little off the tourist track, approachable and very family friendly. You'll need a cab and a reservation unless you're adept at local mass transit. Ask your waiter to orchestrate your meal. You should have a tasty, stress-free evening.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: steve h.

                        Hey, bud! If it's a nice late afternoon and depending where they are going to be in FW, it can be a nice walk to Ideale. We had a family dinner there before our SF daughter wed a few years ago and it was a fun and friendly place.

                      2. trekking down to flour + water, not to mention the parking, from where you're staying is not worth the hassle. The food is good, but not that good. A16 is the closest and the food is quite consistent. Delfna is great but again, the trek and parking. I've been to all with small kids. Delfina is probably the friendliest but one can manage in A16. They will try to put you out on the patio -- that's where they put all the patrons who might let out a shrieking cry but if you specify when you make the reservation that you don't want to be on the patio, you should be okay. If the person who takes your reservation can't guarantee you won't be on the patio, ask to speak with the manager.

                        1. Enjoy your dinner at...A16. If the weather is nice, great neighborhood to walk around with or without kids.

                          So much talk about the toddler...how do you get your husband to agree* to places like
                          La Folie? :))

                          *based on previous thread

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ceekskat

                            Ceekskat, there was beef on the menu. LOL. As long as there's that, I can usually get him on board.

                            That said, my husband is getting better. On our last visits out there, he actually tried bison and he ordered (and enjoyed) a deconstructed caesar. I mean, yes, it's a caesar salad, but it was "deconstructed," which was a big deal for him :) Maybe I'm finally starting to rub off on him.

                          2. Everyone--thank you so much! You've given me a lot to think about and me with not much time to decide. But I appreciate it. I think A16 may be the winner--but I do want to ask, is there any reason I wouldn't want the patio?

                            I'm not opposed to sitting on the patio if it means fewer patrons will be annoyed if he does get fussy. We live in South Florida, so outdoor dining is limited to a few months of the year (I mean, who doesn't love sweating into their dinner?), but when the weather is nice, we usually do try to find restaurants where we can sit outside with our son and not annoy people. That said--if the patio means lackluster service or it's uncomfortable, then no big deal. But outdoor seating doesn't necessarily bother us.

                            Thank you again and I cannot tell you how much I'm looking forward to our visit. Your city is so downright amazing I can't wait to share it with my favorite tiny human.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: umwife11

                              A16's patio is enclosed and heated, it's comfortable in any weather. I prefer it, the inside is really noisy.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                It's also a communal table. While the patio is both quiet and secluded, you don't know who your table mates will be in such a small, enclosed space but that's the price of poker. I like the food there.

                                edited to add: retreating from the little greenhouse could be problematic with a cranky young 'un.

                                1. re: steve h.

                                  No communal table in the patio. Was it like that sometime ago?

                                  1. re: ceekskat

                                    How many individual tables are available?

                                    1. re: steve h.

                                      Not sure...and I called before my earlier post to confirm. Reservationist said "individual tables".

                                    2. re: ceekskat

                                      Cool, I'm not suffering from memory problems... I was there a month ago, and with the exception of a table set up for a large group that came in together, I remembered the patio seating being smaller tables.

                                      Edit for steve h.: two small tables next to the patio entrance, a large table for ten people on the far left patio wall (maybe smaller ones pushed together) and a group of four on the right far wall. There might have been empty tables that I'm forgetting.

                                2. re: umwife11

                                  I don't recall a communal table on the patio -- perhaps it was like that for a large party. Maybe they have changed out the chairs since I was in last but I recall the patio chairs feeling a lot like patio chairs (I.e. no more than 45 min and you start to feel uncomfortable). They were different from the cushy upholstered chairs and booths inside the restaurant. If someone has been there in the last 6 months, maybe they can comment on this.

                                  1. re: sfphilosophygirl

                                    I don't remember finding the chairs on the patio uncomfortable and we always spend close to two hours at A16.

                                    I've seen all the patio tables pushed together for a really big party.

                                3. I'm adding my vote for Flour + Water. I generally eat on the early side and every time I've gone to Flour + Water, there have been families with kids, maybe not toddlers, but definitely young kids. The wooden tables just add to the casual family atmosphere at that early hour.

                                  1. Not on your list - but I would suggest - Vega's in bernal heights (you will have to cab there & back). It is 10000% family friendly, no stink eye allowed. The food is amazing, wonderful, delish. The place is small and cozy. The owners are young, italian, parents, and so warm. They will make anything your 17 month old wants/needs to be happy. You will love the whole menu and the wines. Practically everyone there is a neighborhood foodie & understands that parents want good food too.