If you’re looking for traditional Italian food in the heart of Little Italy in San Francisco, US Restaurant should be your top choice. There’s no website, like the guys in the following statement. When I asked my multi-generation San Francisco Italian buddies at Swan Oyster Depot their opinion of the best Italian restaurant in San Francisco, almost all of them chose US Restaurant. I thought it odd that an Italian restaurant would be named US until I learned that US stands for Unione Sportiva. There’s no website, no big hypes, no glaring storefront – just simple, excellent food and service.
I discovered US Restaurant, as a revelation after my Swan Oyster Depot survey, during my North Beach foodie tour. We sat in this wonderfully funky and historic feeling restaurant with simple seats but beautiful walls and kitchen views and had one of the best meatballs I’ve ever had. I knew I just had to come back for a very special meal, as normally, I don’t eat pasta.
Benjamin and Gaspare own and operate US Restaurant. You can watch Benjamin work from almost any seat in the restaurant as the kitchen is quite open. Gaspare is the front of the house. (I saw a review somewhere in Yelp, Trip Advisor, whatever that complained that there was one waiter and no management. Maybe we should say there’s two owners, front and back, and they totally get the job done.) As you will see, I will rate both the cooking and the service as close to perfect.
The meatballs were everything I remembered – large and flavorful with a fabulous tomato sauce. The US Restaurant Salad had romaine lettuce, tomatoes, olives, red onion, marinated beans. It was prefectly and proportionately dressed. We ordered the US Restaurant house red wine which was inexpensive and quite tasty for our whole meal.
We started with spaghetti pesto, which I thought was going to be basil based. Surprisingly, pesto is a sauce, and we Americans don’t necessarily know that. I still don’t remember all of its ingredients, but man, was it good. It’s the first pasta on the menu, and it has fresh tomatoes, cheese, a bit of green, and I guess I need to go back to get this one straight.
The baked rigatoni came next with the proper proportion of pasta, sauce and cheese. Again, the pasta was perfectly cooked, chewy and cheesy.
Finally, the piece de resistance and Gaspare’s favorite, Papardelle Boscaiola, which had wide ribbon pasta, bacon, onion, mushroom in a tomato cream sauce. OMG!!! You MUST order this dish. Remember that Gaspare knows best. He’s eaten everything they have to offer for ages, and they refine every dish, but there are some ingredients that most people just love, and Papardelle Boscaiola encompasses all of those.
You will love US Restaurant, guaranteed. They are traditional Italian, great supporters of old time Little Italy, and a go to place for the local multi-generation San Francisco Italians.
US Restaurant Wrap-Up
- Real Little Italy
- Huge Variety
- Locals Favorite
- Crazy bad parking