Who doesn’t like Italian cuisine? And everyone adores North Beach, San Francisco’s Little Italy Italian district brimming with history, intriguing stories, and, of course, many of the top North Beach San Francisco Italian eateries. Most are locally owned and operated, with family members on hand to greet visitors and make them feel at ease.
We enjoy at least one supper on North Beach every time we visit San Francisco. There’s something unique about a neighborhood consisting of residents with long ties in this Italian community. It’s one of our favorite places of town because when we dine here, we feel like family rather than visitors. That is precisely what North Beach does. It welcomes you with warm hospitality embraces and ensures that you depart with a full belly full of excellent pizza, pasta, and other gastronomic seafood delights.
These are our favorite restaurants in North Beach, where Italian cuisine abounds and wine flows freely. These welcoming establishments provide unforgettable eating experiences. As we lived in Naples, Italy for nearly three years, I suppose we should know where to locate the finest!
Not in the mood to dine out tonight? Click here to have Grubhub deliver right to your door from the greatest restaurants in town.
Visiting other places in California? Check out our other tasty guides:
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- 8 Best Fort Bragg, CA Restaurants
- The 7 Best Oceanside, CA Restaurants
- The 21 Best Restaurants in Costa Mesa
- 7 Must-Try Cambria, CA Restaurants
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- 15 Must-Try Sanibel Island Restaurants
- 9 Must-Try Pier 39 Restaurants
- 7 Must-Try Ventura Restaurants
- 7 Must-Try Sushi Restaurants In Costa Mesa
- Best Mexican Food In Costa Mesa
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- 8 Mediterranean Restaurants In Costa Mesa
When in San Francisco, don’t miss out on the following activities that will help you immerse yourself in the city (get them while they’re hot!):
- San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise
- From San Francisco: Muir Woods and Sausalito Half-Day Trip
- San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise
- GoCar Tour: Golden Gate Bridge & Lombard Loop
- San Francisco Chinatown Culinary Walking Tour
7 Top Italian Restaurants in North Beach, San Francisco
Washington Square Mamas
Stockton (415) 362-64211701 (at Filbert)
People queue around the block for this famed Italian brunch establishment on a Washington Square corner. After just one gourmet journey here, you’ll understand why.
Mama and Papa Sanchez originally opened their doors in North Beach almost 60 years ago, with the tagline Breakfast all day, always with a smile. And, indeed, with a big toothy smile, the family is carrying on the tradition of offering the tastiest breakfast products in town.
The cuisine here is amazing, with fluffy omelets, fresh Italian bread and pastries, benedicts, French toast, and pancakes. Lunch includes a selection of salads and sandwiches. Weekdays are substantially less packed than weekends, although there is still a wait.
My husband enjoyed his Banana Walnut French Toast with fresh banana slices. I went right for the Dungeness Crab Benedict on Focaccia bread. It was totally stuffed with crab and really delicious (and filling).
If you’re looking for a terrific mid-day dinner, this is the place to go. It was named best of all north shore San Francisco Italian restaurants.
Osteria Sotto Mare & Seafood
Green Street, (415)-398-3181552.
This informal laid-back lively and energetic café is housed in a 1919 structure. Rich and Laura Azzolini, both North Beach natives, bought the restaurant in 2014.
It’s a popular neighborhood hangout and eatery. The food is fantastic, the service is excellent, and Rich and Laura greet their visitors like long-lost family. Fresh fish and shellfish, pasta, and risotto are on the menu.
Crab Cioppino for Two is a signature dish at Sotto Mare. I’m a huge crab fan, so choosing the Crab Diavolo over the Linguini was a no-brainer. Despite ordering a half-order, I could hardly finish the pasta with an unbelievable quantity of crab flesh.
My husband gushed over his mussels in a traditional European white wine sauce. There was also plenty of handmade Italian bread on hand to soak up the leftover soup. Reservations are strongly advised for this very popular Italian restaurant in the North Beach neighborhood.
Al Casaro Pizza Restaurant
415-679-953548 Columbus Ave
We chose Il Casaro after our concierge (who was born and bred in North Beach) suggested it to us, and we are very pleased we did!
Despite the fact that the restaurant has only been in North Beach since 2014, it has been a tremendous success with both residents and tourists. As our pizza came tableside, I honestly felt I was back in Bella Napoli.
The fresh imported Buffalo Mozzarella was served with arugula, cherry tomato, and toast. To say the least, incredible. Once you’ve tried buffalo mozzarella, you’ll never desire Caprese salad any other way.
The pizza selection is diverse and creative. Of course, we went with our server’s suggestion of the Diavola, which was the #1 favorite. This fiery pie with tomato sauce, mozzarella, chili peppers, and salami comes with an optional Calabrian chili hot sauce for added spice. It accomplished the task perfectly, and there were no leftovers.
You can’t go wrong with this genuine North Beach San Francisco Italian eatery if you’re seeking for pizza.
Joes from the past
415-775-487-6600 Union Street
It is preferable to live richly than to die richly. It is the slogan of Original Joes, which was founded in 1937 by a Croatian immigrant named Tony Rodin.
The old restaurant was destroyed in a fire in 2007, but it was restored in a new site in the middle of North Beach by Tony’s grandsons. The menu is available for breakfast, lunch, and supper and includes salads, sandwiches, seafood, pasta, and house specialities.
The restaurant has live culinary demonstrations, counter seating, and table dining. Servers dressed in jackets and bow ties are a nod to the more traditional Italian serving custom.
My shrimp scampi with tomatoes, garlic, cream, and white wine sauce over linguini was delicious.
Paccheri Short Rib Ragu with braised short ribs, cipollini onions, and grated horseradish was my friend’s choice. It was delicate and flavorful, melting in your lips.
This lively North Beach San Francisco Italian restaurant is usually crowded, and with cause.
Betty Lou’s Seafood & Grill is a seafood restaurant and grill.
415-757-0569318 Columbus Avenue
Although Betty Lou (who will meet you as you enter) is from Portugal and bears the surname Pesce (which means “fish”), her husband Mike is Italian. The ethnic mix, coupled with Mexican chef Hector Chaparro, is wonderful. And the fish is really delicious and as fresh as it gets.
Oyster enthusiasts should start with the establishments’ oyster shooters from both coasts. The house salad, which had mixed greens, fresh tomato, cucumber, and green olives, was ideal for sharing. Even yet, the servings are substantial.
Seafood Linguini was stuffed with clams, mussels, prawns, sea scallops, and calamari that seemed to never stop. Each pasta dish is served with a selection of five sauces. I enjoyed how the garlic and olive oil complemented the excellent fish. My husband pronounced the Lobster Ravioli in Creamy Tomato Sauce to be the greatest he’d ever tasted. I must concur.
Betty Lous is undoubtedly one of the top North Beach San Francisco Italian restaurants, with wonderful food, amazing service, and a lively, dynamic atmosphere.
Green Valley of Sodinis
Green Street, (415) 291-0499510.
Sodinis Green Valley has been servicing customers in North Beach for over a century. Mark Sodini bought Green Valley Restaurant in the early 1990s, continuing the legacy of excellent Old World Italian cuisine reflecting the tastes of Tuscany and his Italian background. Mark will be on-site, enthusiastically chatting with his customers.
The dinner-only restaurant transports you back in time. Looking at the restaurant’s Rat Pack images and antique artifacts, we couldn’t help but imagine what fantastic tales these walls might tell if they could speak. Sodini’s credo is “No Decaf, No Reservations, No Desserts, No Exceptions.” He is uncomplicated and real. But it’s a terrific vintage spot that’s constantly full.
Tortellini Carbonara is a house specialty served with mushrooms and pancetta in a white cream sauce. Another hit is Chicken Alla Sodini, which is grilled chicken covered with ham, mozzarella, and cream sauce and served with linguini marinara and a delicious Caesar salad.
This is the place to go if you want a genuine down-home Italian restaurant with an interesting history and delicious cuisine.
Italian Pastries Maras
(415) 397-9435503 Columbus St.
Several North Beach establishments do not provide dessert. Rather, they delegate the task to professional pastry chefs in local bakeries such as Maras Italian Pastries.
We can testify to having the greatest cannoli for the last 40 years. It’s sinfully delicious, insanely rich, and to die for. Maras also provides a wide variety of other pastries and baked goods, making it difficult to select.
It’s the ideal way to start or finish a day in North Beach, San Francisco, accompanied with an Italian espresso or cappuccino.
So there you have it: the seven top Italian eateries in North Beach, San Francisco. Whether you like fish, pasta, pizza, or anything in between, you’ll find wonderful Italian cuisine at these North Beach restaurants.