SFReview

photo credit: Sarah Felker

Che Fico image
7.9

Che Fico

ItalianAmerican

Nopa

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDrinking Good WineSpecial Occasions
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Che Fico is one of the only places in town where walking into the dining room is like making a red carpet debut. Skylights and wooden ceiling beams with hanging chandeliers and dried flowers are reminiscent of a Pinterest board for your cousin’s fancy wine country barn wedding. 

Unfortunately, the food at this Italian restaurant in NoPa doesn’t always live up to the stylish space. And you might get physically lightheaded after seeing the bill—unless you order strategically. Come with a date, stick with a glass of wine each, share a couple of starters, a pizza, and a pasta, and you’ll have a really nice time for under $175.

Like we said, there is a genuine path to an excellent meal at this NoPa spot. Some small plates, like house focaccia served with airy whipped mascarpone and the fried supplí that ooze with fontina, are memorable enough that you’ll inexplicably start craving them in a week. And we once contemplated commissioning a 3D-printed sculpture of the tender octopus and pork belly for our dining room table—it’s a well-balanced mix of spicy, sweet, and salty flavors. Other appetizers, like the slightly too chewy ball of mozzarella, are underseasoned. 

Che Fico image

photo credit: Sarah Felker

Another way to leave happy is by focusing on the parmesan-dusted sourdough pizzas. They’re reason enough to get here. The bubbly, charred crust puffs out hot air when you take a bite, and the tomato sauce is ultra light. At $30 a pie, they’re one of the more filling and cost-efficient dishes on the menu. Split the ananas pizza topped with see-through slices of pineapple, and have a glass of wine at the bar, and you’ll leave content.

Yes, the pastas, particularly the creamy tangle of spaghetti and pillowy short rib agnolotti, are objectively great. They’re all made in house and cooked to a near-flawless al dente. But they also elicit conflicted feelings. The pastas are some of the most expensive ($28-$53) we’ve seen in a city with no shortage of pricey carb-filled bowls. At $38, the bolognese would have to be presented in a gold-plated bowl and express-jetted from the Italian countryside to be considered worth it for the average diner. And portions overall are, in the words of our server on one visit, “conservative.” At the end of the day, there’s only so much you can pay for a bowl of noodles before you start to have regret sweats or some existential crisis brought on by twirling tagliatelle around a fork. 

Even with all the highs and lows, there are times when you should pull out those fancy shoes that clack a little, escape the logo hoodie fashion show that is the general SF dress code, and come here. Birthdays. Engagement celebrations for a couple you actually like. Or, if you happen to be dating someone who thinks spending $165 on a ribeye is normal behavior. But at the end of the day, there are other Italian spots in town where you can spend less on a similar (or better) meal.  

Food Rundown

Che Fico image

photo credit: Sarah Felker

Supplí

It’s pretty hard to be disappointed by fried balls of tomato-y risotto and melty fontina. Start off with a couple of these Jewish-Italian two-biters and you’ll be happy.

Mozzarella Fresca

You can skip this. The appetizer may raise some questions. Like, Why isn’t this ball of cheese seasoned? Or, Is it supposed to be this chewy? And is there bread included? No, bread is not included, but you can add on an ounce of caviar for $105.
Che Fico image

photo credit: Krescent Carasso

Polpo E Pancetta Di Maiale

This perfectly cooked octopus dish is a hit. It all gets a nice kick from red pepper flakes, balanced out by creamy potato confit that cuts like room temperature butter.
Che Fico image

photo credit: Sarah Felker

Margherita

The pizzas at Che Fico are our favorite reason to come here. This one, with ultra light tomato sauce, gooey mozzarella, and shaved garlic, is a simple and foolproof way to go. The sourdough crust is tangy and puffy on the edges—although it does flop when you pick it up.
Che Fico image

photo credit: Sarah Felker

Ananas

Since all of the pizzas cost the same ($30), we’d go with this over the margherita—it’s a lot more interesting, and we absolutely love the slices of pineapple. They’re so thin you can barely see them against the tomato sauce and mozzarella. And the red onions lend a great crunch to every bite.
Che Fico image

photo credit: Sarah Felker

Spaghetti

A fabulous little bowl of spaghetti that embodies the very essence of tomatoes. We would order this again any day.
Che Fico image

photo credit: Krescent Carasso

Tagliatelle Al Ragú

On par with other bologneses in town—rich, meaty, and not too saucy. But ultimately, we can think of many better ways to spend $38.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

Suggested Reading

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The Best Italian Restaurants In San Francisco

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This Italian restaurant in the Financial District is one of the most reliable places for a fantastic meal in San Francisco.

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La Ciccia is a Sardinian restaurant in Noe Valley with excellent pasta. Be sure to make a reservation.

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