SFReview

photo credit: Erin Ng

Ciccino image
8.5

Best New Restaurants

2023

Ciccino

ItalianPasta

Nob Hill

$$$$Perfect For:Drinking Good WineWalk-InsDate Night

Included In

“New Italian restaurant” is a well-worn phrase in this city. Maybe we just really like twirling pasta, or maybe it’s our desire to impress the always-complaining Brooklyn transplants. Ciccino is another “new Italian restaurant” joining the oversaturated pasta market, but this spot has a special edge: time slows down here. This is good news for you, since you’re going to want to devote as much time as possible to their deceptively simple pastas and perfect seafood skewers. 

Ciccino looks like a classic Italian cafe, filled with black-and-white photos and bistro chairs. It’s rustic European escapism right in Nob Hill—all that’s missing is a plaza, some umbrellas, and an Aperol Spritz. It’s also a pretty lean operation—just a few servers doing their best take on nonchalant, unhurried service (though occasionally it can border on chaotic). Everyone feels like a regular, and delights in five-minute chats with the chef (who often serves the food himself). Go ahead and order that third glass of wine, even when you think your night is over. You won’t want to leave. 

Ciccino image

photo credit: Erin Ng

Citrusy, charred, and bright best describe Ciccino’s seafood-y Northern Italian dishes. The sorcery in their skewers, carpaccios, tartares, and pastas is the simplicity—each high-quality ingredient outshines the next, often accentuated by just a squeeze of seared lemon. The olive and fennel oils are fragrant. The scallop and squid skewers are light and slightly smoky from the binchotan grill. A salty-creamy mozzarella di bufala under a simply grilled lobster tail are a rockstar-level duo. 

As for the pasta? You should order them all, but the ravioli carbonara—oozing with buttery cream and egg yolk when you slice it open, and topped with crispy guanciale—is king. And because time is a meaningless, flat circle, and this is f*cking delicious, consider going in on two or three orders.

These days, some acts force us to lock up our phones in a bag before a big show. Ciccino is a place that inspires us to do just that—and immerse ourselves in a fantastic meal, offline, on planet earth. It’s a pretension-free zone that’s not trying to over-impress but always does. Yes, it’s another on the long list of Italian restaurants, but this is one where you can forget about the global meltdown outside. So tee up your questions about those handmade copper fork rests, pour the wine, and just relax. 

Food Rundown

Ciccino image

photo credit: Erin Ng

Fritto Misto

Simplicity is the alternate name for this dish. It’s hard to believe the lightly breaded scallops, white cod, and squid are fried, since they taste so light. Both charred lemon and mayo come on the side.

Skewers

The individual skewers are a great alternative to the fritto misto. Each skewer comes with three shrimp, scallops, or squid—they’re perfectly light and airy, so one skewer never feels like enough (especially if you’re sharing). They’re grilled over binchotan, too, so expect more subtle smoky flavors.
Ciccino image

photo credit: Erin Ng

Ravioli Carbonara

Ciccino said, “carbonara, but make it with ravioli,” and we’re grateful they did. This dish is cozy comfort in pasta form, an SF Pasta Greatest Hit, and perfect to the infinity power. The ravioli is a rich, cream-and-egg-yolk-filled al dente envelope. The whole thing is topped with salty guanciale, carbonara cream, and cured egg yolk shavings for added richness.
Ciccino image

photo credit: Erin Ng

Pasta con le 'Sarde'

Light and bright and very simple—are you sensing a theme? We just wish there was more of it. The high-quality ingredients ensure each component of the dish stands out. The whole sardine on top isn’t overpowering, and mixes well with the thick fennel oil. More texture comes from the crunchy breadcrumbs.
Ciccino image

photo credit: Erin Ng

Lobster Salad

Yes, the lobster is tender and sweet, the mozzarella is salty and creamy, and the olive oil is fragrant. But it’s the citrus powder and orange dressing that ties the dish together. The tangy zest is an unexpected surprise.
Ciccino image

photo credit: Erin Ng

Tartare Della Rita

You know a dish is good when you finish it off by swiping your fingers all over the plate. Enter this tartare, which is a very good version of a tartare with filet mignon. And an emphatic YES to the shaved parmesan on top.

Panna Cotta

If you’re sharing this dessert, get your game face on. This one is sublime. It’s honey-infused, topped with figs, and delicious.

Included In

FOOD RUNDOWN

Suggested Reading

The Best Italian Restaurants In San Francisco image

The Best Italian Restaurants In San Francisco

15 great spots for Italian in San Francisco.

The 8 Best SF Restaurants For Pasta image

When you’re dead set on eating some carbohydrates and sauce, let this guide be your roadmap.

The pepperoni, clam, and combo slices at Golden Boy

Our 15 favorite places in the neighborhood.

undefined

Going on a first or 100th date? You need this guide.

Infatuation Logo

Cities

2024 © The Infatuation Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The views and opinions expressed on The Infatuation’s site and other platforms are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of (or endorsement by) JPMorgan Chase. The Infatuation and its affiliates assume no responsibility or liability for the content of this site, or any errors or omissions. The Information contained in this site is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.

FIND PLACES ON OUR APP

Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store