Flour + water Restaurant Review, San Francisco

Reviewer: Foodnut.com

flour + water

2401 Harrison Street (At 20th Street)

San Francisco, CA 94110


415-826-7001 (Fax)

flour + water Website

Book Reservation

flour + water Restaurant Review, San Francisco

Flour + Water is a wildly popular Italian restaurant in the Mission district of San Francisco. They focus on hand rolled pastas, house cured meats, and an Italian pizza oven. The chef, Thomas McNaughton is a veteran of La Folie, Gary Danko, Quince. They take reservations on rezy and reserve space for walk ins (Communal table), causing a line to form 20 min. before the place even opens.  Yelp rating has faded to 3.5 stars.

Legend has it that Steve Jobs was once turned away because he didn’t have a reservation. A waitress did confirm it. Our last visit was in March 2022, during the Pandemic. We were last there in 2011.

If you don’t have reservations, line up early and share the communal table.

flour and water San Francisco interior

Decor, Vibe – Narrow, long room with refurbished, repurposed and reclaimed wood, and a lot of it exposed. Dimly lit, eclectic music was blaring, making it hard to talk. People lined up before the place opened. A fair amount of couples, bigger parties, locals, with most casually dressed folks in the 30’s and 40’s.

Menu Pictures

The menu changes daily and features about five antipasti starters, 2 pizza options, five pastas and three entrée’s. Few options for vegetarians. Website Flour and Water Menu

Food Picks:

Gold Beets & Mandarin ($15) Vegan/GF. sea buckthorn, citrus marigold, burrata, crispy red quinoa was a well done started. Nice contrast in flavors along with crispy bits of quinoa. 9.5/10

Charred Broccoli ($17) Vegan/GF. avocado, white bean, meyer lemon, dried garlic was good but more ordinary. 8/10

flour and water san francisco pork belly

Pork Belly Spiedini ($22) shinko pear, mustard greens, charred spring onion salsa verde was a unique combination of flavors to contrast with the fatty pork belly. 8/10

flour and water san francisco pizza

‘Nduja Pizza ($26) tomato, calabrian pork salami, gaeta olive, ricotta, oregano was nice and charred, soft crust. Interestingly the pork salami was a spread that is slathered on. I like the pizza options at Flour and Water Pizza better. 8/10

flour and water san francisco fusilli

Calabrian Chili Fusilli ($26) tomato, confit pig ear, oregano, breadcrumbs is an eggless pasta. The pig ear is sliced up and adds a slight bit of texture.  Pasta was a bit mushy, and should have been al dente. 7/10

flour and water san francisco pasta

Taleggio Scarpinocc ($24) parmigiano reggiano & aceto balsamico is on the Tasting menu, but they allowed us to order a la carte. Highly recommended by our server, the sauce has a slight sweet tone in contrast to the complex pasta. 8/10

Chestnut Funghetti ($28) chanterelle & trumpet mushrooms, nettles, black truffle pecorino has a very well done sauce with lots of fresh mushroom flavor. Al dente pasta. 8.5/10

Josey Sourdough With Parmigiano Reggiano Cultured Butter ($8) is high quality bread along with a subtle cheesy butter. 8/10

Armigiano Reggiano Gelato ($12) extravecchio aceto balsamico, candied hazelnuts had the balsamic dripped tableside.  The cheese was more pronounced that we thought. 7/10

Strawberry Sorbet ($8) is not on the menu, but a simple light fruity dessert, in contrast to the bold gelato. 9/10

Service during the Pandemic has been challenging for restaurants. The great resignation and Covid have caused a worker exodus, so we cannot hope for pre-pandemic level service. 5% SF Mandate, 1% Zero Food Print

Flour + Water had slightly above average service that was very competent but not exceptional.

Our take is that Flour and Water was excellent neighborhood place elevated to stardom long ago. It may have lost some luster. The California Italian fusiony food, not traditional Italian, especially the pasta is very good but the focus seems to be on sauces. Less cutting edge Cal Italian is Che Fico, a restaurant we would go back to more often than this place.

If you want traditional Italian, try Perbacco or Acquerello. If you have been thinking about trying flour + water, definitely give it a try, you will find it worthwhile.

AlternativesDelfina is not far away and also a good bet for Italian food.
Moderate wine markup, small selection. Glasses of wine from $6.50, bottles from $26.



Pre-pandemic Review

Food Picks:

Complimentary house still or sparkling water.

Make sure you ask for their excellent Fire Brand bakery, Oakland bread.

flour and water San Francisco shaved asparagus salad

shaved asparagus ($10) and arugula salad with a pancetta-caper vinaigrette was a very good salad. The dressing was strong enough to cover up a lot of the green’s intrinsic flavor. Nice cheese and bacon accents. A bunch of olives too.

flour and water San Francisco roasted pork loin

Roasted pork loin ($26) with young purple cabbage, Thumbelina carrots, lentils and mustard Jus was cooked to a perfect medium rare. Very Tender and juicy meat, but a little on the small side portion-wise. Excellent lentils that just soaked up the au jus.

flour and water San Francisco nettles Salsiccia pizza

Salsiccia pizza ($17) nettles, garlic white wine sausage and bagna cauda was a super thin, not crispy pizza with very nice combination of ingredients that worked together. We chose to have the extremely heavy-handed bagna or anchovy oil splash on the side. Italian 900 degree Valoriani oven performed its duties well although we prefer a little more crispiness.

Spaghetti with sanguinaccio Ragu, black trumpets and Dino kale ($15) was a fairly small but excellent freshly made pasta featuring a meatty blood sausage-based sauce and al dente noodles. Pasta quantities are very skimpy, so you need to order an appetizer and possibly dessert.

nettle & ricotta triangoli with yellow foot mushrooms ($16) was a perfect triangular ravioli dish with a creamy sauce with some very small but strong yellow foot mushrooms.

strozzapreti with braised pork shoulder and spinach ($16) is a twisty pasta that came with a ton of succulent, tender pork, but not enough of the al dente pasta. Because it was so meaty, this pasta course could fulfill on main course duties.

whole wheat agnolotti dal plin ($17) sounded very healthy, but takes the form of ravioli like pasta filled with chicken, and bathed in a butter sauce with bits of crispy chicken chitterlings. Because this was made with wheat, the pasta was a bit dry on the inside, but did possess good flavor.

Rosemary garganelli ($18) with lamb cheek, Dino kale, and taggiasca olives was also a very meaty pasta with high quality lamb, omitting gaminess. Another good sized pasta portion that proved to be fulfilling.

flour and water San Francisco braised pork cheek

braised pork cheek ($18) with borlotti beans and erbette chard had good amounts of tender braised pork on top of a bed of beans with a slight bit of chard. Flavors on the pork could have been more aggressive.

roasted brussel sprouts with pancetta vinaigrette & pecorino cheese ($6) was a rich and oily  dish that will turn any vegetable hater into a believer.

sautéed greens with pine nuts, currants & balsamico ($6) was stellar.  Fruity, wild greens, lite sauce made it go down fast.

flour and water San Francisco chocolate budino

Chocolate budino ($8) with espresso-caramel cream & sea salt is one of their signature dishes and a must order. A nice combination of silky smooth chocolate and creamy textures accented by a hint of salt.


flour and water San Francisco Margherita Pizza

margherita pizza ($13) tomato, basil, fior di latte, extra virgin olive oil was slightly above average. The middle was soggy, the crust very thin. Flavors were decent but the cheese did not stand out. Several burned areas on the crust.  We tried this once with mozzarella di bufala ($3) add on and found it only slightly better.

roasted pork loin and belly ($26) with mustard greens, fingerling potatoes, Rosemary, and caramelized onion purée proved to be an interesting dish. The pork belly was tender and melted in our mouth, while the loin was slightly overcooked, not juicy, and a bit salty with the heavy sauce. Our previous 2011 experience with their roasted pork loin was far better.

flour and water San Francisco squid ink pasta

corzetti stampati pasta ($16) with braised monterey squid and fava beans was very al dente. Could have used a lot more egg based thin pasta. The squid out numbered the pasta. Sauce was slightly spicy. A squid ink pasta we had at A16 was far better.

flour and water San Francisco maltagliati pasta

maltagliati pasta ($15) with brown butter braised giblets and ramps (onions) was also very al dente, more so that most places. The quantity of pasta was also pretty low. Flavors were solid.


Restaurant Map:

flour + water Overall Rating: (Very Good 2.5)

Come Back?

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

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

Alcohol:Beer, Wine
Hours:Daily 530pm - Midnight
Prices:$13 - $26

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  • fogcitydiner
    May 27, 2009 at 9:16 am

    “Our sense is this is a neighborhood place, not a destination restaurant. The food is fair, not exceptional. Pasta quantities are very skimpy. One would have to order a salad, a pasta, and a dessert to be full.”

    Agreed . . . while the neighborhood needs retail development, we were disappointed in flour + water for the same reasons you cited . . .

    Skimpy portions, lackluster service, only OK food. We did enjoy the reasonably priced Italian wine list and the shaved asparagus salad. But the Frito Misto and pizza we ordered did not measure up to others.

    Open to midnight is a big plus if you are craving a pizza and Delfina and Paulines are already closed. But we likely will not return unless we hear about some changes. OK food only works if the portions are big and the atmosphere makes up for the failures in the kitchen.

    In any other locale, this restaurant might be acceptable, but in San Francisco, “just OK” isn’t good enough.

    Sadly, the owners do not aspire to anything more than having a money making neighborhood “pub” a la Atlas Café.

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    There are supposed to be black spots on the crust of any pizza done in a wood oven, its caused by the wood chips that are put in to cause bursts of heat. If your gonna write a food blog you should do some food research.

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