A Vibrant Neighborhood Gem in a Quiet Part of San Francisco


You probably won't find many tourists venturing out of their way to Potrero Hill for an Italian meal, but that suits locals just fine. A quiet, residential neighborhood located in the south end of San Francisco adjacent to the port, Potrero Hill's main draw during the dot-com boom was affordable housing with unparalleled views of the downtown skyline. The influx of new residents brought about a shift in demographics, and with it, a demand for upscale dining without having to venture downtown.

Aperto fills that gap quite nicely. Located on the corner of 18th and Connecticut, this cozy neighborhood locale serves up local and seasonal cuisine at reasonable prices. The menu doesn't reach for the stars, but perhaps for this reason, it has also been consistently good. Many of the items change often as the specials are written on a chalkboard each day. But some reliable mainstays can be found including the papparadelle with lamb sugo and English peas, the seasonal bruschetta, which as of this writing, features a spread made of preserved lemon, artichoke and fava topped with manchego cheese and truffle oil, and tagliolini pepati, with a fiery sauce concocted from jalapeno, smoked bacon, roasted tomato, and pecorino.

Upon walking in, you'll be jarred by the stark contrast to the neighborhood — going from the peaceful, quiet, and dimly-lit hilly streets outside to the loud, convivial, and brightly-lit dining space. Diners are elbow-to-elbow, and walk-ins pass around bottles of wine while waiting for tables. Working the front-of-house here is a nightmarish prospect, but the friendly staff handles the task with aplomb while the chef-owner greets customers warmly. It's the sort of place everyone wishes they had in their neighborhood.

It's not without its faults — the place is definitely not suitable for large groups, and finding a quiet corner to hide yourself while you wait for your reserved table to open up can be a challenge. But these faults are a testament to its popularity, and the masses have voted rightly with their forks.