photo credit: Eric Wolfinger
Cotogna runs like a well-oiled machine. Since opening in 2010, the Financial District restaurant has been churning out near-perfect Italian dishes with laser-like focus and consistency rivaling that of The Rock’s daily workout routine. The result? Cotogna is one of the most reliable places for a fantastic meal in San Francisco.
The menu at Cotogna includes caviar with burrata, prosciutto with gnocco fritto, and other antipasti, plus pizzas and larger dishes like bistecca alla fiorentina. Everything is excellent across the board. Even if you threw darts at the menu as an ordering method, you’d always land on something great. That’s because dishes use fresh ingredients that taste like they were hand-picked from a garden the same morning. They're also made with more attention to detail than you'd find in a pointillism still life. Tissue-thin slices of prosciutto are laid out like cards, and crudos are topped with tiny flower petals. But the pasta section is where Cotogna really shines.
We’ll start with the singular raviolo. The decadent pasta is face-sized, and stuffed with slightly sweet ricotta and an orange egg yolk that oozes out like lava when you cut into it. The whole thing arrives in a shallow pool of brown butter, and is big enough to share with at least two people. Get at least one on your table.
photo credit: Eric Wolfinger
There are also other housemade pasta hits, like the agnolotti dal plin with sugo arrosto and pappardelle with duck ragu. The sauces in each look deceivingly simple but are packed with rich flavor, while the pastas themselves are rolled to textbook thickness and perfectly cooked every time. And don’t overlook the seasonal pastas. Exhibit A: the dessert-like corn triangoli filled with creamy corn purée, which only appears on the menu in summer, but is hands-down one of the best pastas here.
Another thing you can count on at Cotogna is that you’ll always be well taken care of. The staff is attentive without being overbearing. Blankets are rolled up and waiting for you on the parklet (which looks more like an editorial spread in Architectural Digest than a setup in the street). You can also get cozy at one of the big communal tables inside, or at the bar facing the blazing wood-fired oven. Wherever you are, you’ll want to stay for as long as possible.
Because it’s located in the Financial District, Cotogna is usually packed with people having team dinners on weeknights, or power lunches midday. But the beauty of Cotogna is that this place works for any occasion. Walk up to the bar and post up with your very own raviolo and a cocktail, or reserve a table weeks in advance for an anniversary dinner—Cotogna is guaranteed to fit the bill, especially since a meal here will never let you down.
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Prosciutto With Gnocco Fritto
The prosciutto is as thin as tissue paper and melts in your mouth. Breaking open the fried pockets of dough and stuffing them with prosciutto, pickled red onions, and gorgonzola is both fun and delicious. Start with this.
We love coming to Cotogna in the summer, solely because that’s when you can get your hands on the seasonal corn triangoli. Each pasta pocket is filled with rich, silky-smooth corn purée, and the whole thing is so sweet it almost feels like we’re eating a dessert. If it’s on the menu, you must get this.
Broccoli di Ciccio Pizze
The golden-brown thin crust on this wood-fired pizza is satisfyingly crispy. This version is a great option—ask for their house chili oil on the side to drizzle on every slice. Like we said, Cotogna’s pizzas aren’t the main focus here, but we’d absolutely order one again.
Raviolo Di Ricotta
It’s hard to go wrong with a gigantic ravioli soaked in brown butter, and Cotogna’s version always impresses us. Cut it open, let the runny egg spill out, and mix it all around with the ricotta. There’s really nothing better.