These two meals in San Francisco especially stood out.
North Beach is a neighborhood that’s like a little Italy. It’s located between the Fisherman’s Wharf/Pier 39 area and Chinatown. Where the neighborhoods merge is an intriguing intersection of Asian and Italian restaurants.
As first time visitors, we felt overwhelmed at all of the dining options. We had such limited time that we wanted to make sure we didn’t fall into a tourist trap.
With all of my research, recommendations from people we met along the way, and gut feelings as we walked by a place, we were left to choose our own adventures.
Dim Sum at City View Restaurant
One of our main meal goals was to eat really good dim sum. But in a city rich with good dim sum, how do you pick one restaurant? It’s really forking hard. I scoured “best of” lists and combed through Reddit threads. In the end I went with a place in Chinatown that people on Reddit +1’d a few times in a recent dim sum thread.
As long as you don’t visit a restaurant that people note as having higher than average prices, you can feel confident enjoying numerous plates at an affordable price.
I’m not going to claim that City View has the best dim sum in San Fransisco, but enjoyed everything that we ordered.
Everything about dim sum is great. Employees roll around carts stacked with steamer baskets and small plates of food. You can simply try whatever catches your eye.
We ate crisp scallion pancakes, soup dumplings, a plate of eggplant, tofu, and seafood-stuffed peppers in a savory brown sauce, sesame chicken, and snappy walnut shrimp, all washed down with a Tsing Tsao and jasmine tea for about $40.
Since there were only two of us, we wistfully watched other dishes pass by. Lettuce wraps, many more types of dumplings, pork buns with golden brown bottoms, chicken feet, vegetables, a whole dessert cart floated around, but alas, we could eat no more.
City View Restaurant
662 Commercial St
San Francisco, CA 94111
Olive Garden touts “When Your Here You’re Family.” At Sodini’s you’ll actually feel like this is true.
The great thing about dining solo or in a pair is that you can pretty much walk into any restaurant without an RSVP and dine. You can dine quicker if you are willing to sit at the bar. And if the restaurant is popular, you may have to wait a bit. This is easily remedied by grabbing a drink from the bar and chilling until your table is ready.
Just like any other destination, there are busy restaurants and there are slow restaurants on a Saturday night. Some of the restaurants with the most beautiful exteriors had the least amount of customers, so don’t let looks fool you. If you find yourself wandering a neighborhood in search of dinner, go to one that’s busy.
Sodini’s was very busy, with people contentedly waiting around the bar and milling about outside. No one seemed crabby, because the probably knew they were going to enjoy a good meal.
The man running the front of the house seemed to know every guest, greeting many by name. The interior is softly lit with candles, Sinatra plays in the background. This 100+-year-old restaurant, often referred to as “old school,” serves Northern Italian classics.
In this Hoodline article commemorating Sodini’s 100th anniversary in 2016, the owner mentions that most of his guests are loyal neighborhood regulars but occasional tourists do stumble in from time to time.
Sodini’s website states “No decaf – No Desserts, No reservations – No Exceptions.” You won’t have room left for dessert and if you really want some, there are plenty of options nearby.
The sign at the bar stated that there were two choices of wine: Red and white. I thought it was serious and ordered a glass of red at the bar. “What type of red would you like,” the bartender asked listing off some different options. I laughed to myself and ordered the house red.
Meals start with complimentary bread and a delicious, round fruity olive oil for dipping.
Side caesar salads cost about $11, but they arrive in generous, fluffy mounds. One salad could suffice for two people. These really are perfect Caesar salads; Crisp romaine tossed in a flavorful, homemade vinaigrette (not the mayonnaisey type) topped with a flurry of cheese and croutons with a little side of anchovies.
Although the menu lists meat dishes and seafood in addition to pasta and pizza dishes. We were in the mood for classic pasta dishes done well.
Our cheese ravioli with cream sauce and gnocchi in pesto arrived on big platters. The gnocchi had a pillowy texture and pesto cheese filling. We shared everything and soaked in the lively atmosphere. Our server spoiled us with generous wine pours. We were smitten.
More San Francisco posts from this trip: