There are plenty of things about A Mano to draw people in. The Italian restaurant in Hayes Valley is a pretty space with a lot of indoor and sidewalk seating and floor-to-ceiling glass panels overlooking Hayes Street. Everything on their menu is under $20, which is pretty great considering SF standards. They don’t take reservations, which could be annoying, but you can go next door to Anina for a cocktail until they text you that your table is ready.
A Mano checks a lot of boxes on the list of things that you could want in a restaurant. The problem is that the food isn’t one of them.
The pasta, which is A Mano’s main draw, is particularly disappointing. The sauce in the bucatini all’ amatriciana tastes like something you could get on a grocery store shelf, and the freshness of the peas in the fusilli verdi gets lost in the pool of butter underneath that you can see your sad reflection in. It’s like buying a pair of custom shoes in Italy and thinking you got a steal, only for the soles to fall off the first time you wear them.
But there are some other things on the menu that are good, but nothing is earth-shattering. The cauliflower has a nice bite from the chilis and brightness from the lemon, but this is just an appetizer - and it will set you up for disappointment when the rest of your food comes.
If a pretty space and getting a table last-minute without a giant hassle are more important boxes for you to check than having memorable food, A Mano is a passable restaurant. You’ll get your negroni and some Italian food after a day in Hayes Valley. But if you’re looking for excellent pasta, we suggest you try somewhere else.
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This cauliflower is one of the other better things here. It‘s topped with lemon, chili, and bagna cauda and kind of tastes like tater tots - but in a good way.
Bucatini All’ Amatriciana
The sauce is basic and the pancetta tastes like what you’d find in $2.50 chunked hash browns from Waffle House. It doesn’t need to be on your table.
This pizza with sausage, olives, and provolone piccante could be good, but there is a lot of cheese covering up what’s going on underneath. Stop somewhere else for a slice after dinner instead if you really need a pizza fix.