Italy in San Francisco

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San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood got its start with Italian immigrants and still retains a feeling of Little Italy. There are places outside North Beach that reflect the culture and cuisine of Italy, too.

Here are our recommendations for places to go Italian in San Francisco:

Italian Caffes

  • Caffe Greco: 423 Columbus Avenue in North Beach - This our favorite place to go for espresso. Outdoor tables are great for North Beach people watching. Besides drinks, they have Italian desserts and gelato, sandwiches, salads, and light breakfast. Caffe Greco
  • Emporio Rulli Gran Caffe: 2300 Chestnut Street in the Marina District - A trip to the Gran Caffe makes us feel like we're in a northern Italian city. They have lots of mouth watering Italian pastries. Besides drinks, they serve meals although I've never eaten there. They also have branches at Union Square, San Francisco airport, and in Larkspur.

Italian Restaurants

  • Macaroni Sciue' Sciue': 124 Columbus Avenue, just outside North Beach - Macaroni has an Italian atmosphere and has very good antipasti and pasta. They have a good selection of Italian desserts, wines, and beers. It's open every day for lunch and dinner.
  • SPQR: 1911 Fillmore Street - SPQR serves Roman cuisine. The menu includes a variety of delicious antipasti and several pasta dishes. Dinner starts at 5:30 every day, lunch Monday-Friday 11:30 - 2:30, weekend Brunch 10:30-2:30. No reservations.
  • Bambino's Ristorante: A Cole Valley neighborhood stalwart that's been serving up delicious pasta dishes and pizza to customers for more than 30 years, Bambino's boasts a welcoming atmosphere with frescoed-walls and mahogany-finished hardwood floors, and entrees big enough to share. The restaurant is known for its Tuesday night specials, as well as a weekend brunch that's half the wait of nearby competitors and equally as tasty.
  • The Italian Homemade Company: With locations in North Beach, Hayes Valley, and Cow Hollow (neighboring SF's Marina District), this family-owned speciality cafe and market dishes out handmade pasta that's both plentiful and budget-friendly.

Shopping Italian

  • A. Cavalli Italian Book Store: 1441 Stockton Street off Columbus in North Beach - The store has been in business since 1880. They sell Italian books, magazines, greeting cards, videos, and gifts. They now have a cafe, too. The store is closed on Sundays.
  • Molinari's Deli: 373 Columbus Avenue in North Beach - Molinari's has been in San Francisco for more than 100 years. It has lots of Italian imports including wines, meats, cheeses, pasta, and dry goods. You'll still see many Italians shopping there, ordering in Italian. It's a good place for a sandwich. The deli is closed on Sundays.
  • Liguria Bakery: 1700 Stockton Street, in North Beach, bakes fantastic focaccia and that's it. When the bread's gone for the day, the shop closes. They've been around since 1911.

Italian Culture

  • Museo Italo Americano at Fort Mason: The museum has a small permanent Italian art collection that includes a beautiful Sicilian cart, changing exhibits, special events and lectures, books, DVDs, a gift shop, Italian language classes and children's classes. The museum is open to the public daily, noon to 4:00, except Mondays, free.
  • Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco: 425 Washington Street - This cultural institute just a few blocks north of City Hall holds special events, weekly films on Tuesday evenings, and lectures. They have exhibits and a large library and video library, Italian language classes. The Cultural Institute is open Monday-Friday, 9-5. They have a Saturday radio program at 8:00 am, Italian Culture around the Bay, on KUSF 90.3.
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