Authentic Italian Food - Bay Area California

Hi Everybody!!

I am living in the Bay Area since 3 years and I miss sometime having good authentic Italian food.

Not talking about pizza, but real Italian food, not American Italian food.

Has any of you any recommendation for a good place where to go?


any particular dish(es)? where have you been so far?

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I have been to Beretta and Tony’s. Tony’s pizza was good but very pricey, the rest of the food was just ok. Beretta’s gnocchi are nice but still not the best. I also tried, shame on me, Olive Garden and Pasta Pomodoro. What else…Molinari and Liguria Bakery next to Mama’s, da Luca and Buca di Beppo.

In terms of dishes…A real carbonara, amatriciana, ox tail, real gnocchi…

you might enjoy the oxtail lasagna at Rich Table (SF). Picture below. Good agnolotti and gnudi at Quince (SF) although a bit pricey (can order ala carte in the lounge). Good gnocchi and mushroom pasta (currently cannelloni) at Bon Marche (SF) (although perhaps more French than Italian). Would love to find a great carbonara. Many like La Ciccia and the nearby La Nebbia (SF).

Thanks for the great suggestions!! I will definitely try some of the restaurants you mentioned. I am pretty excited actually!!

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Rich Table has a number of pastas but i think their oxtail lasagna is my current favorite there. you should also try SPQR (SF) which has a lot of interesting pastas. Some will say that these places are not authentic, but you may still enjoy them.

What are people’s thoughts on Locanda in the Mission? They have Roman dishes and use guanciale in their amatriciana, which is the ingredient lacking in many local versions (like Ideale in North Beach, whose version I don’t like).

The sweet potato gnocchi at Da Flora (North Beach, Veneto region dishes) are tough to beat, and their focaccia can run circles around Liguria bakery, which is more about the toppings than the bread.

Thanks for the reminder Hyper . I always wanted to eat at Da Flora . I’ll have to try the focaccia . I am a fan of Liguria bakery . Looking into the back at that old oven , then having your bread wrapped in the paper and tied with string . Also I like the grumpy attitude of the one older lady .

If you like the grumpiness at Liguria, definitely go to Da Flora :slight_smile: I’ve read that the owners are not so friendly with walk-ins, so make a reservation. I made a reservation, and found everyone there charming. (Btw, whether the toppings or bread are the focal point, Liguria Bakery’s focaccia is a great snack for walking up telegraph hill and makes for good sandwiches at Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Shop)

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Has anyone had the gnocchi at that Venetian themed place in North Beach?

I was there a couple of weekends ago for dinner and it seemed to be a specialty of the house; although I have to admit that I wasn’t really impressed by anything that we ordered. I enjoyed the atmosphere but my wife liked the cooking better than I did.

HA, I was just posting about Da Flora below (I had forgotten the name) and then scrolled up to see your post.

I had read that the owners were characters, but I didn’t find that to be the case at all. The woman was really sweet and friendly. My meal was pretty mediocre. I had the baccala starter and risotto main (following the regional direction) and I thought they were both pretty unexciting. The baccala tasted like an ordinary piece of melba toast with bland whitefish schmear. It was the kind of thing I’d haphazardly slap together straight from a sparsely stocked pantry, rather than something I’d expect to find at a bacari or cicchetti bar in Venice. Barbacco’s bruschetta is in a different league. Likewise, I found the sweet pea risotto pretty middle of the road. It was much too rich.

I’m regretting not going for the sweet potato gnocchi at Da Flora recently! I’m going to give it another chance because I really like the restaurant and owners.

I love Locanda and I have to say that I’ve never had a bad meal there before. Everything on the menu is great.

Wow guys thanks so so much!!! I will have a lot of research and read to do.

I will definitely check out some of them!

Do you consider Cal-Italian as American Italian? If not, places like Cotogna (rustic) , Perbacco, Barbacco (both Piemont) , etc can be considered. I have not been but what about the Italian-Italian place that Luke Tsai reviewed for pasta dishes:

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I think Ideale or E Tutto Qua will provide you with real Italian food, and not with the Cal-Italian or good versions of Italian dishes served at non-Italian restaurants that some have suggested.

In particular, E Tutto Qua has been recommended to me by several young Italians as their go-to place for a real taste of home.

A young couple from Sicily were also raving about Trattoria da Vittorio in West Portal, but I haven’t tried it.

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The owner of Per/Barbacco is from Venice. I had a lengthy conversation with her last week. They just opened up a new (non-Italian - Scandinavian, I think?) place in the Mission. Aspects of their menu can be considered regional; ie. Northern Italian cuisine.

If you like Abruzzo cuisine, Chef Giuseppe Naccarelli offers a few dishes that are less CA-like, at Trabocco/Alameda. We’re very fond of his Baccala e Peperoni: roasted salt-cod marinated with roasted bell peppers over a coin of crispy polenta. Unlike almost all other restaurants serving bacalhao, here the salt cod is left in pieces. It’s really spoiled us for the ubiquitous fritters, LOL.

And whether this dish is authentic or not, I have no idea; but it’s amazing and so far as I know he’s the only one who makes it: risotto with pork and pureed beets. He rotates it on and off the menu (I believe currently it’s off; you can call to check), but it is a fabulous dish. The beets turn it a neon fuchsia that takes you aback at first sight, but the earthy, slight sweetness of the puree combines with the creamy rice to make the best risotto I’ve ever had.

I don’t like everything at Riva Cucina/Berkeley, but the chef does make an outstanding breadcrumb pasta and has kept it on the menu as a regular item ever since opening day: Passatelli Alla Salsiccia. So far as I know, RC is the only restaurant who always has it available at dinner.

Located in: Alameda South Shore Center
Address: 2213 S Shore Center, Alameda, CA 94501
Phone:(510) 521-1152

Riva Cucina:
Address: 800 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710
Phone:(510) 841-7482

(both are on OpenTable)


Staffan Terje and Umberto Gibin are the owners of Perbacco and Barbacco. Neither is female.

Perhaps the manager then.