Farina: best Italian restaurant in San Francisco?

Farina restaurant San Francisco

There are many Italian restaurants in San Francisco, but only a handful serve food that competes with what you find in a very good restaurant in Italy. So, I was thrilled to find Farina which serves Ligurian (and Italian) cuisine. I dare say it may just be the best Italian restaurant in the city. Here’s why:

  • The Proscuitto San Daniele and burrata (fresh cheese made from mozzarella and cream) appetizer was excellent and it was served on a very delicious focaccino bread;
  • The gnocchetti with fresh tomato sauce and olives was savoury and spicy with what seemed to be a hint of ginger;
  • The testaroli with porcini mushrooms, garlic and parsley is possibly the best pasta + mushroom dish I’ve ever had in the city;
  • They have a wide selection of Italian wines, especially the Barbera d’Alba which is my favorite; they have Barbarescos, too. Many restaurants in SF carry a meagre selection of Italian wines.
  • They have many different kinds of grappa, again unusual for San Francisco (except for the grappa bar at the Hotel Intercontinental).
  • They serve limoncello, another rarity.
  • The semifreddo alle mandorle was divine – it had bits of caramel and cherry – an unbelievably delicious combination.
  • The pastas were all hand-made and as they were primi piatti (first courses), the portions were as they should be for primi piatti. I did not get around to ordering the secondi or the pasta with pesto which seems to be their speciality (maybe next time, and there will be a next time because this restaurant is now in my Top 5).

Farina is located in a very large “industrial” space with high-ceilings and a lot of light, giving you the luxury of space unlike many restaurants that cram people into a tiny room. The metal tables have an “old cafe” look and feel, but everything is very modern. The service is very good.

3560 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

About Esme Vos

Esme Vos is the founder of Mapplr, a travel site featuring boutique hotels, luxury resorts, travel guides and restaurant reviews. You can find her on and Twitter.