The sheer volume of kampachi crudos and “seasonally changing pastas” around SF is a little staggering. It’s easy to find solid, if not slightly snoozy, versions of either as it is to spot a Carhartt beanie within any two-block radius of the city. But Itria in the Mission is the rare place where the pasta and raw fish actually get us excited to come back.
The menu at Itria changes seasonally—this is another Californian-Italian spot, after all—and part of the excitement is not knowing what you’re in for each visit, whether you’re here for a monthly catch-up with a group or a flirty date over squiggly mafaldine and a bottle from their lengthy list of wines and sake. And while the space looks like it used the same interior designer as all the other fancy-ish Cal-Ital places in town (minimalist, light-wood filled, and the requisite touch of exposed brick), the non-boring food sets this place apart.
Yes, there are starters and a couple of mains on the menu, but the headlining attractions are, not surprisingly, the crudos and pastas—they’re executed with the casual finesse Bruno Mars probably channels every time he leaves the house. The raw bar specialties taste so fresh you’ll think the kitchen had a secret passageway leading directly to the ocean. And the toppings, like fried shelling beans or delicate potato chips balanced atop buttery-soft scallops, oysters, and bluefin tuna tartare, add welcome texture to each bite.
The housemade pastas, which mostly star vegetables and seafood, command your attention. Paccheri is tossed with cabbage, thick bacon chunks, and saucy pumpkin butter. Squash-filled cappelletti is zhuzhed up with a balsamic drizzle. And Itria’s take on a spicy spaghetti amatriciana uses smoky bits of octopus instead of guanciale. Another reason to love these dishes: the portions, meant to share family-style, are hearty, so you won’t passive aggressively eye your tablemates when it comes time to choose who gets the last bit of perfectly al dente mafaldine. Nothing good lasts forever, and at Itria, the pasta you just fell for will likely be gone when you return—but find comfort in the fact that something just as fantastic will replace it.
Itria is the ideal backdrop for nights that warrant pulling out your nicest sweater and strutting into the dining room to swirl some wine around at the communal table or a seat underneath the striking black-and-white mural. This place presents trendy, but can be casual, too—the bar is for walk-ins only, which is great for last-minute “I need a bowl of carbohydrates now” situations. Wherever you sit, the promise of a new and exciting pasta will draw you back.
Save yourself the agony of narrowing down the crudo choices to just one, and go with the chef’s selection of three (scallops, oysters, and amberjack are pictured above). They’re gorgeously presented, dressed up with ingredients like preserved lemon, sea beans, and baby potato chips for crunch. This crudo trio is a must-order whenever you come here.
Pappardelle, Braised Duck, Pickled Tart Cherries
Tart and sweet flavors from the pickled cherries balance out this rich braised duck. This dish is the breakout star of the menu, and one you’ll think about the entire ride home.
Paccheri, Pumpkin Butter, Bacon, Cabbage
A saucy, buttery knockout, and the best pasta dish we've had here. You’ll want cabbage in every future bowl of pasta you ever eat. And yes, the pastas at Itria are designed to be shared, but don’t say no to an order all for yourself.
Mafaldine Cacio e Uova
If you have found yourself licking a fondue pot clean on more than one occasion, you’ll enjoy this decadent number. It lacks the flavor of other pastas on the menu, though, so feel free to skip and go for the paccheri instead.