Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends
San Francisco 94110
Cuisine: Seasonal Italian
Pluses: Simple, flavor-focused dishes; Outstanding service
Minuses: Always crowded; Parking in the neighborhood can be difficult if the pay lot is full
Don't Miss: Niman Ranch flatiron steak with french fries; Grilled fresh calamari with warm white bean salad; House-cured anchovies (really!)
Prices: Moderately expensive
Hours: Sun – Thurs ; Fri – Sat Reservations highly recommended
Visa and MasterCard accepted
Limited parking at 18th and
Any restaurant that unabashedly puts sardines, anchovies, duck giblets, and tripe on a single night’s menu either doesn’t know the favored tastes of most Americans, or is too successful to care. With high accolades from several national publications and a die-hard following in a town known for its foodies, Delfina offers diners an education in flavor, often relying on less popular ingredients that can intimidate the faint of heart.
Take, for example, the much maligned anchovy: usually a limp, grey sliver of flesh that’s more often plucked off of a Caesar salad or pizza than eaten, Delfina’s house-cured anchovies ($7.75) appear as though they were just harvested from the sea, silvery-fresh, with the sweet, briny flavor of a just-shucked oyster. A dollop of bright cucumber relish and a slice of toast round out the dish, offering delightful contrasts in flavor and texture.
For the less adventurous, the roasted
Delfina is not always perfect – regulars tend to agree that while one night might produce a bewitching meal, the next night can just as easily fall a little flat. That said, everyone agrees that what sets Delfina apart from the rest of the crowd, and what makes the off nights far easier to ignore, is its outstanding service. The young, tattooed wait staff attends to every detail with a graciousness and precision usually only seen at the most high-end establishments. Curious about what glass of wine to try with the buttery calamari? Your server might bring a generous flight of three Chardonnays to choose between before filling your glass. Swarms of waiters descend on a table when plates are served, offering fresh cracked pepper and grated parmesan before anyone can think to ask. The high level of service makes ordinary meals become special, and extraordinary meals become occasions that are long remembered.
While Delfina’s approximately 20 squeezed-together tables are usually reserved at least 1-2 weeks in advance, two bars allow spur-of-the-moment planners to walk in without much of a wait (30-60 minutes). If you still find yourself squeezed out of a table, you need only walk a few steps to find a great meal – Delfina’s owners have recently leased the space next door with plans to open an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria, and acclaimed neighbors Tartine Bakery, Bi-Rite market, and Platanos are also just steps away. Nonetheless, Delfina remains the star of the