Delfina Restaurant Review, San Francisco

Posted by Foodnut.com

Reviewer: Foodnut.com


3621 18th St (Between Guererro and Dolores)

San Francisco, CA 94110


Delfina Website

Delfina San Francisco 2

Since 1998, Delfina, a bustling neighborhood Italian trattoria has been packing them in. The menu changes daily and they use organic produce and sustainably-raised meats and fish whenever possible. It is a popular place that requires advanced booking for a reservation or showing up at 530pm for a table at the counter or bar. Our last visit was in July 2012. If you cannot find parking, try the valet at sister restaurant Locanda.

Pizza is only available next door at Pizzeria Delfina, where you usually have to wait because there are no reservations.

Delfina San Francisco Interior

Decor, Vibe – Delfina has a compact but stylish modern decor, cramped seating area for parties of 2. Nice patio area in the back, for when the weather allows.  The place is extremely loud even though you can see quite a bit of sound dampening material on the walls and ceiling. Most of the crowd was couples or small parties of people in their 30’s and 40’s.

Menu pics

Menu changes daily. It features a variety of appetizers from grilled seafood to salads. 8 pasta courses and five entrées. The roast chicken, spaghetti, and the hanger steak are almost always available on the menu.

Website Delfina Menu

Delfina uses Tartine bakery and Acme bakery for the bread. You can dine on legendary Tartine dark bread without waiting in line. For the full culinary effect, you should call ahead and pick up your bread from Tartine bakery before dining at Delfina.

Delfina San Francisco Spaghetti

Spaghetti ($9 small, $13 regular) with plum tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and peperoncini came al dente and full of their tomato sauce mixed in. Decent dry pasta dish with a good kick, but other pasta items were even better.

Delfina San Francisco Blood Orange Bellini

Delfina’s Blood Orange Bellini ($9) was Fruity and balanced.

Delfina San Francisco sausage

Wild fennel sausage ($11) with Umbrian lentils and strong pickled onions was also an excellent appetizer. The sausage came to us extremely hot and full of fennel flavor while retaining a lean level of healthiness.

Delfina San Francisco calamari

Grilled fresh calamari ($9.25) with warm white bean salad was a great signature dish that tastes as good as it looks. The only down side is a little burn scaring on the octopus, and low quantities. The beans were delicious and tender.

California King Salmon Crudo | Calabrian chili, Meyer lemon ($13) is a dish that seems to be on most menus around here.  This version was fantastic and not a bit spicy. Top the Tartine bread with this!

Delfina San Francisco Snails

Fresh San Joaquin Valley Snails ($12) and celery formatino had only 5 small snails that tasted like butter along with the tasty and smooth flan. Tasty but way too few snails.

Delfina San Francisco Tomato Salad

Heirloom Tomato Salad ($11) with pane bucato, Bellwether crescenza, olives, and salt packed anchovies was in season and tasted great. Very light dressing, reasonable quantity.

Delfina San Francisco nero sepia

Sepia in nero ($19) was a fresh pasta in a squid ink sauce that had a hint of fishiness. It also came with a small bit of uni, and English peas. An excellent pasta dish with a small hint of spiciness. It that was the special of the evening.

Delfina San Francisco Risotto

Risotto nero ($18) with sepia inzimino or squid ink was extremely delicious.  One of the best risotto’s around.  It came out steaming hot and had a bold complex flavor to it.

Delfina San Francisco Pasta 1

House made linguine with local petrale sole ($18) was a freshly made pasta that came with tomato sauce which turned out to be excellent. This pasta dish was well-balanced, ensuring the fish did not overwhelm.

Rosemary Tagliatelle ($18) with wild boar Ragu came al dente with a fresh made wider pasta noodle making for a very good dish. Overall a low key, well integrated dish with bits of boar meat. On another visit it came with a fantastic guinea hen ragu, vin santo. Excellent!

Delfina San Francisco Pasta 2

Mint Tagliatelle | artichokes, mascarpone ($16) was a top notch fresh pasta filled with the essence of fresh artichokes. A good dish for vegetarians.

Ricotta Cavatelli | cherry tomatoes, caciocavallo ($17) was very tomatoey and had a gnocchi-like pasta filled with cheese.  Also fantastic.

Squid Ink Chitarra| Dungeness crab, Calabrian chilies, meyer lemon ($21) possessed subtle crab flavors along with a spicy note. Another solid fresh made pasta.

Delfina San Francisco Lamb

Leg of Lamb Special ($25) was tender slices of roast lamb leg bathed in gravy with lacopi butter beans.  Slightly gamey but very tender meat. Good combination with the soft butter beans.

Delfina San Francisco quail_

Wolfe Ranch quail ($26) with fennel sausage, polenta and vin santo was very good even though it looks like a mess. Quantities are not high with this delicate bird, but the flavor and tenderness is great. The sausage makes the polenta a great combination.

Delfina San Francisco Swordfish

Grilled Swordfish ($25) with warm lentil salad, fennel crusted fennel and anchovy aioli. Tender meaty fish that was cooked just right. A little on salty side. This dish really did not need the aioli.

French fries ($4) were complimentary because they took too long to bring your entrée’s. Nice, thin, hot, with lots of Rosemary mixed in.

Delfina San Francisco Salad 2

Roasted Tokyo Turnips and Their Greens ($8) has just a couple turnips along with pea shoot like greens.

Delfina San Francisco panna cotta

Buttermilk panna cotta ($9) with golden and red raspberries was smooth as silk. Perfect balance of sweetness to cream and definitely a signature dish. Could have used more berries.

Warm Scharffen Berger chocolate torta ($9) with olive oil gelato and maldon sea salt sounds like a weird combination but it works.  Torta was very chocolaty, a little nutty and bitter, and very good.  The olive oil gelato took getting used to, but then became delicious.

Delfina San Francisco Gelato

Bergamont and Té Inglese Gelati ($7.50) comes with Rosemary Shortbread and is simply divine. You get two very smooth, but eggless scoops of the yogurt flavored gelati and one scoop of the Earl grey tea flavored gelato.


OK: (order only if you like to dish)

Insalata di Campo | bitter greens, pancetta, walnuts, parmigiano, balsamic vinaigrette ($10) was decent but nothing special.

Roasted Fulton Valley chicken ($18) with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and royal trumpet mushrooms was
a good dish and prepared well but not as spectacular as say the chick at Zuni Cafe. Huge portion of mashed potatoes.

Anson Mills Polenta with fontina Val d’Aosta Cheese ($7.75) was a huge steaming hot pile of polenta.  Not very buttery, but full of corn meal texture.

Brussels Sprouts alla Mostarda ($8) had a slightly different and better preparation than before. The texture was almost cabbage like meaning that they should have left the brussels sprouts intact.


Delfina’s service was very good, as you could see the waiter circulate down the middle of the restaurant repeatedly. They do sit some tables for two way too close together. Parking is not fun in this neighborhood! $1.25 per person charge for health plan wasn’t fun but probably worthwhile, as long as all employees get health care.

This restaurant serves up excellent food and remains one of our favorites. Other top notch Italian spots include Perbacco. Delfina has high wine markup with glasses from $8, bottles from $29, $18 corkage.

Delfina on Urbanspoon

Do not forget to save some space for nearby delicious Bi-Rite Ice cream that is across the street and down the block.

Delfina San Francisco 2

Delfina San Francisco 3

Bi-Rite Creamery and Bake Shop on Urbanspoon

Delfina Overall Rating: (Excellent 3)

Come Back?

Food Rating: (Excellent)
Service Rating: (Very Good)
Atmosphere Rating: (Very Good)
Value Rating: (Very Good)

Guide: 0 = poor, 1 = Below/Average, 2 = Good, 2.5 = Very Good, 3 = Excellent , 4 = Extraordinary

Alcohol:Full Bar. High wine markup.
Hours:Mon-Thur 530pm-10pm. Fri/Sat 5:30pm-11pm. Sun 5pm-10pm
Parking:Street. (Difficult)
Prices:$11 - $27
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Posted on October 1st, 2012
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18 Responses to “Delfina Restaurant Review, San Francisco”

  1. flour + water Restaurant Review, San Francisco, 94110 | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] not a destination restaurant. The food is fair, not exceptional. Pasta quantities are very skimpy. Delfina is not far away and a lot better. Moderate wine markup, small selection. Glasses of wine from […]

  2. New 2010 San Francisco Michelin Guide | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] Gibraltar Camino Cena Luna Chevalier Colibrí Cook St. Helena Corso Crouching Tiger Cucina Paradiso Delfina Dosa Farina FIVE flour + water Henry’s Hunan Hong Kong Flower Lounge Incanto Insalata’s […]

  3. Ristorante Capellini, San Mateo | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] no their pastas. Dishes like pizza are just fair. You’ll find better Italian at places like Delfina or A16 in San Francisco, but in San Mateo only Acquapazza is a competitor. Book Ristorante […]

  4. Frances Restaurant, San Francisco | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] – Favorites like Delfina and Limon are not far […]

  5. Stella Alpina Osteria Restaurant, Burlingame | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] appetizer, entree, and dessert, pretty expensive for the burbs. We had a better Italian dinner at Delfina in the city for the less money than Stella Alpina Osteria. Also Capellini and Donato Enoteca are […]

  6. New 2011 San Francisco Michelin Guide | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] Helena Corso Crouching Tiger Cucina Paradiso Delarosa – How about sister restaurant Beretta? Delfina Domo Dosa eVe FIVE flour + water Gather Hachi Ju Hachi Henry’s Hunan – Why!? Hibiscus […]

  7. Tartine Bakery, San Francisco | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] of our favorite places, Delfina, is down the block and happens to use Tartine Bakery’s bread! What a […]

  8. Cotogna Restaurant, San Francisco | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] – While the food here is very good, we find Delfina and Perbacco a cut above this restaurant. Nearby restaurants include neighbor Quince, Chinese […]

  9. 2010 Best of San Francisco Restaurants | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] Delfina […]

  10. Rosamunde Sausage, San Francisco | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] look no further, there is some good and cheap stuff here. We recently had an excellent sausage at Delfina. Tuesday’s is their special hamburger day. The wait for burgers is long, and they sell out […]

  11. Saison, San Francisco | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] – Nearby restaurants include Delfina, flour and water, Foreign […]

  12. Locanda, San Francisco | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] is a new Roman style Italian restaurant from the Delfina crew. This restaurant is one of the major openings this year. We patiently waited approximately 3 […]

  13. Perbacco Restaurant, San Francisco | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] – Lower key Barbacco is next door of course. A16, Acquellero, and Delfina are the other top Italian restaurants in San […]

  14. Il Fornaio, Burlingame | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] that great. You can get better Italian at similar prices from places like A16, Incanto, Delfina, and Perbacco. Locally, we would suggest you check out Osteria Coppa or Donata Enoteca. This place […]

  15. La Ciccia, San Francisco | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] – Nearby restaurants that serve Italian food similar to La Ciccia include Incanto, Delfina, Flour and […]

  16. New Michelin Guide San Francisco 2012 | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] that great! Cucina Paradiso – Petaluma Delarosa – How about sister restaurant Beretta? Delfina – San Francisco – One star in our book Domo – San Francisco Dosa – San […]

  17. A16, San Francisco | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] several times and the food remains very good at A16.  Food quality is close to our favorites: Delfina and Perbacco. A16 remains a very popular place that anyone interested in high quality Italian food […]

  18. Mason Pacific Restaurant Review, San Francisco | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] named after the intersection it is at. It takes the place of Lalola tapas. Chef Sean McTiernan (Delfina, Rose Pistola, Tailevent, Le Bellecour, and La Table de Robuchon) cooks a seasonal menu of simple, […]

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