Top-notch Italian: Americano Restaurant in San Francisco

Pizza from Americano
Pizza from Americano

I've eaten at Americano three times in the past couple of months, and each time it was better than the last. Located on the ground floor of the Hotel Vitale, it's main architectural feature is a large patio that runs the length of the restaurant and faces the bay. With heat lamps, plenty of tables, chairs and even couches, it's one of my favorite outdoor dining spaces in San Francisco (Foreign Cinema is the other).

Tonno at Americano
Tonno at Americano

The menu has something for everybody, with plenty of appetizers for sharing or light meals, pasta, Italian entrees and even a hamburger. While I've enjoyed the fish and hearty steak entrees, it's been the pizza, pasta and appetizers that have made me a fan.

Their take on the Margherita pizza, the pizza fresca ($15) is puffy and crisp and not overburdened with toppings. It has that melting quality I love when the sauce, cheese and crust all meld together.

My favorite dishes are the appetizers ($7 each, or 3 for $18). The luscious tonno conserva is so rich and delicate it will wipe away any memory of domestic canned tuna. Also notable are the arancini and the artichoke and brussels sprouts fritti. None of the fried bites are greasy or heavy.

It's hard for me not to order pasta, especially when it is homemade. Chef Kory Stewart makes fantastic stuffed pasta with very high quality ingredients, and the result is supple, soft, and refreshingly simple. You can get his pasta in smaller or larger portions. If you want to try several dishes I won't blame you for ordering the small portion, but if you're like me, you will be sad when it's gone. His pastas are often dressed simply with just a bit of olive oil or butter and topped with a bit of herbs or vegetables. The version with fava beans and Meyer lemon was a wonderful expression of late spring.

While I've enjoyed several desserts, the one not to miss is the Mocha Custard. Served in an espresso cup, it is a rich and creamy marriage of chocolate and coffee.

Americano Restaurant & Bar 8 Mission Street @ Embaracadero San Francisco, CA 94105 (415) 278-3777

--Amy Sherman of Cooking with Amy

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