San Francisco, USA

Delfina: Mission District Fine Italian

This is the place that started it all. The well-loved San Francisco mainstay that now has several locations began here, and is still lauded today. Often thought of as one of the city's best, this trattoria is about local ingredients, unique cuisine, and Italian wine. Come to Delfina for a nice dinner in the Mission District that will have you exclaim, "That's amore!"

Delfina is routinely mentioned as a must-do for visitors to San Francisco. The couple who started it years ago have been quite prolific. They now have restaurants in other locations, such as Palo Alto. And there are more relaxed pizzeria versions of Delfina that use the same great ingredients. and Italian wines. Indeed, these are things that made Delfina exceptional from the day it opened.

Delfina’s ingredients are fresh in the mundane sense– you’ll have farm-to-table at its best here. However, they are fresh in the abstract sense as well! You’ll savor the lesser-used herbs and produce in combinations you rarely find else where. Think herring, rhubarb, fennel, goat’s milk, and other surprises that awaken your palate. Definitely choose a fine prosecco if you are celebrating any type of occassion. Otherwise, there are many other Italian wines that will delight. If you visit for brunch– such as for Passover or Mother’s Day, don’t miss out on a Delfina blood orange belllini. With oranges that don’t come any fresher, it’s the perfect California libation.

While this restaurant is known for being more low-key than its peers, head to offshoot Pizzeria Delfina (on California in the Pacific Heights neighborhood) for an even more laid-back atmosphere. You’ll find quite unexpected pizza toppings here. I was fortunate to visit the pizzeria with a chef trained at the Culinary Institute, who now chooses wines for some of San Francisco’s most prominent residents. Even in this far from ostentatious setting, the Italian red he chose for us was one of the best I’ve tasted. Check some of them out here: