North Beach, also known as San Francisco’s Little Italy, has managed to walk the fine line between a hot touristy spot and an area beloved by native San Franciscans. And with it’s high density of authentic ristorantes, cafes, and Old World delicatessens, it’s a prime foodie spot as well!
Here are 5 must-eat restaurants in the heart of North Beach:
#1: Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. Hands down, one of the best pizza places in all of North Beach, maybe even in all of San Francisco. And it’s all thanks to owner Tony Gemignani, an award winning pizza maker. Tony’s specializes in Napoli pizza and their ingredients are actually imported from Napoli! All of their pizza and pasta dough is made in house, and they even have whole wheat and gluten free versions for the more health-conscious. Just a heads up though: since everything is made fresh in-house daily, sometimes they run out of certain menu items. Be prepared for a long wait as well, this restaurant is amazingly popular and doesn’t take reservations. Leave your phone number at the host stand and then head to a nearby bar for a drink while you wait!
#2: Mama’s on Washington Square. Mama’s is another San Francisco institution that doesn’t take reservations and also requires you to stand in line until they are ready to cook your order, but the long weekend waits are worth the brunch that awaits you. Menu items to try include the Monte Cristo, Eggs Benedict, and their 10 types of French toasts (you can choose from sourdough baguettes, banana bread or wheat bread). The homemade jam on each table is also to die for.
#3: Cafe Jacqueline. This unique restaurant serves only souffles as a main course, with a choice of non-souffle soups and salads to start. Dinner souffles serve two: choose from asparagus, spinach or lobster - each with a cheese base. Dessert is, of course, a souffle - which must be ordered at the same time as dinner and is not to be missed! The ambiance is super romantic, small, and candlelit, so it’s perfect for a date night or a special night out.
#4: Victoria Pastry Co. This bakery is one of the city’s oldest -- in business since 1914. It’s best known for its cakes, and specializes in wedding cakes. They even have bite-sized cake creations for a single-serving taste of heaven. Their specialty is their mini tiramisu - served ready to go in it’s own takeout cup.
#5: L’Osteria del Forno. This tiny restaurant is famous for its fresh-baked focaccia (sandwiches and pizzas), and is one of the top authentic Italian restaurants in SF. For meat lovers, hope that the milk braised pork is the special roast of the day - it is divine. Their menu also features a variety of pizzas, salads, soups and fresh made pastas. Small baskets of warm focaccia arrive at your table until your entrees are served. For as tiny a restaurant as this is, they still have a full bar with a wonderful selection of wines and grappas. You can also get their pizza by the slice for folks on the go.
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