What makes a great Italian restaurant? For some it may be the antipasti, while for others it’s the quality of the wines and pastas that’s the sure-fire test. Holding up one dish is dangerous. Octopus? Lasagna? Cacio e pepe? Which one dish should be the barometer of a great Italian restaurant?
The steps we took to compile our most-recent ranking were as thorough and comprehensive as possible: we looked at restaurants that made it to our 101 Best Restaurants in America; we also recruited an illustrious panel of judges that included some of the country’s top food writers, critics, and bloggers to submit their suggestions, which we supplemented with our own choices, including previous years’ rankings as well as lauded newcomers. This list of hundreds of restaurants was then built into a survey that was sent out to more than 100 panelists, who voted for their favorites. The final ranking included a significant number of Italian restaurants, and to create this list we supplemented the Italian restaurants that made it into our final list of 101 with those that came in as runners-up and those that were featured on this year's list of the country's 50 best casual restaurants. Turns out there are many Italian restaurants worthy of renown in America, and four reside in San Francisco.
Quince offers a refined, modern Italian and French-inspired menu. Located in a historic brick and timber building dating back to 1907 in the Jackson Square neighborhood, the Michelin-starred restaurant is both charming and elegant. Chef and owner Michael Tusk, who won the 2011 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Pacific, creates a dining experience rooted in his relationships with a tightly knit network of only the best Northern Californian food purveyors. Typical dishes include black cod, ibérico ham, Dirty Girl Farm leeks, and celeriac. After stints at elBulli and The Fat Duck, executive pastry chefs Alen Ramos and Carolyn Nugent came to Quince. Their bread and pastry programs helped contribute to the restaurant’s success and its achievement of three Michelin stars. Quince’s stylish, intimate interior provides the backdrop for either a prix fixe four-course dinner or a seasonally inspired tasting menu.
Quince’s fare is so good, it outshone Cotogna (#14), Flour + Water (#36), and Una Pizza Napoletana (#39) and was voted the highest-ranked Italian restaurant in the Bay Area by our panel of culinary experts, who awarded it the #7 spot. This means that, according to our list, chef Tusk serves the seventh-best Italian food in the country, and the very best in the city of San Francisco.