It’s really pretty simple. Some nights, all we want is to sit at the bar, alone, and order a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine. It’s one of life’s greatest combinations, and a type of self-care that’s hard to beat (no offense, baths). Still, when you’re looking for the perfect place, there are some factors that guarantee success: a relaxed atmosphere, a nice bar where you can sit, and, of course, great pastas and wines by the glass. Here are 11 great options.
Cotogna in the Financial District works for many situations: team dinners, sexy little date nights, and celebrations with friends in honor of you finally buying that cute bed frame. But the Italian restaurant is also built for walking up to the bar and settling in with a face-sized raviolo and some wine. The pastas are our favorite things on the menu, from the aforementioned raviolo stuffed with ricotta and a gooey egg yolk to the triangoli filled with silky smooth corn puree. If you can’t narrow them down to just one dish, we fully endorse getting two.
Itria is a new-ish spot in the Mission with excellent pastas and crudos. But it’s also a great option for the next time you need to escape your overly-chatty roommate and be truly alone for the night. Their airy, bustling space has a long bar that’s available first come, first served. Grab a seat and sip on some wine while getting into a bowl of house-made pasta—we like the gramigna with tender pork and beef ragu.
It’s been a long day of deciphering whether your coworkers were being passive-aggressive to you on Slack or if that’s just how they type. Sounds like you’re in the market for pasta, wine, and some serious alone time. Pearl 6101 in the Richmond and their bar is here for you. Bar seats are reserved for walk-ins, so you can drop in, get cozy over a plate of handkerchief pasta with white bolognese, and people watch from your perch.
Romanticizing your life while sitting solo at Nopa’s bar is practically a rite of passage in this city. The classic SF restaurant is one of the first places we send people who are new to town—it’s laid-back, inviting, and has excellent food that works well for any occasion. They save room up at the bar for walk-ups, so you can twirl their pappardelle bolognese around your fork while contemplating how you’ll someday furnish your imaginary Pac Heights mansion.
For a more casual bar and pasta situation, hit up The Italian Homemade Company. The Cow Hollow location has bar seating and wine by the glass or bottle, and the pastas hover around $15, making them some of the less expensive options on this list (plus, the portions are big). You can mix and match sauces, but our go-to is the pappardelle with bolognese or the tortellini with butter and sage.
Ernest is one of the hottest restaurants in the city. But now that the Mission spot is accepting bar walk-ins, it’s almost too easy to casually swing by on a random weeknight, especially if you want to sit alone and scroll through your ex’s Twitter likes in peace. And you should, if only to get the single pasta on the menu: a decadent uni carbonara. It's honestly kind of a power move, and one you should definitely consider making some time soon.
Barzotto literally advertises itself as a wine and pasta bar, so we are contractually obligated to include it on this guide. But that’s not hard to do, since the Mission spot is churning out great pastas, like incredible spaghetti and meatballs and a bucatini with spicy tomato sauce and guanciale that you’ll be very glad you’re not sharing with someone else. Hunker down on one of the wooden barstools while you nurse a $10 glass of house red and contemplate buying a one-way ticket to the Italian countryside.
This Marina spot is always packed with dates, groups of friends, and servers whizzing by with plates of arancini while belting songs in Italian. And this energetic environment makes Roma Antica exactly where we like to unwind after a long week—or distract ourselves from the fact that our new foster puppy just barfed all over the floor. Slide into a seat at the bar, order a plate of carbonara and a glass of pinot noir, and try to determine which of the waiters has perfect pitch.
If you’re desperately in need of comfort in the form of carbs and cheese, and want an experience that’s chicer than eating boxed Annie’s straight out of the pot, swing by Che Fico Alimentari in NoPa. Seats at the bar are available first come, first served, so you’ll have a bowl of their fantastic rigatoni amatriciana in front of you in no time. You’ll definitely leave here feeling much better about getting through the rest of the week.
The Italian American spot in Bernal Heights has tons of fun, eclectic decorations like a giant horse mural, cheetah-print tables, and colorful hand-drawn menus. In other words, come here if you need to be cheered up after a sh*tty day, preferably over a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. The servings are huge, too, so you’ll probably head home after and immediately crash on the couch.
We come to Beretta’s Mission and Divisadero spots for the pizzas, pastas, and appetizers that are mostly under $20. Their pastas aren’t the best in the city, but when all you want to do is scream into a bowl of carbs, anything will do (the butternut squash cappellacci with sweet brown butter is a great choice). Plus, the friendly bartenders, great Happy Hour deals, and lively energy make Beretta a better place to spend Friday nights than our couch.