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July 10, 2019

Now THIS is the map I’ve been searching for!

July 10, 2019

Now THIS is the map I’ve been searching for!

There is much more to Italian wine than the tried-and-true prosecco, pinot grigio, chianti and brunello. San Francisco is lucky to to have a community of wine professionals well-versed in the wines of Italy, a country home to over 1,000 native grapes and 20 wine producing regions. These 10 restaurants and wine shops chose by Italian food-tour curator, food writer, and sommelier Coral Sisk offer an approachable wine list for anyone thirsty for Italian wine and a varied selection. And because drinking without food is a fineable offense in Italy, these restaurants and wine bars offer the most wine-friendly eating options as well.

Looking for the city’s best wine bars, regardless of style? Check out this list.

1. A16

2355 Chestnut St
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 771-2216

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Head to A16 for well-researched Southern Italian fare, like charred, blistery Neapolitan pizza and small plates imbued with the region’s distinct products and flavors. What makes their menu even more enjoyable are the carefully selected wine offerings chosen by owner/sommelier Shelley Lindgren. She’s the holy grail of an Italian wine professional, dedicated to highlighting wines made extremely rare native grapes such as Casavecchia from Campania and Southern classics like Aglianico, Fiano and Piedirosso. Excellent wine lists and regional specialties like tripe and ragu can be found at either A16 in San Francisco or Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood.

2. Biondivino

1415 Green St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 673-2320

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A treasure trove of boutique and natural Italian wines can be found in the heart of Russian Hill, many which would invoke nostalgia amongst the most die-hard of Italian wine fans. Founded by Ceri Smith who has built Biondivino’s catalog and reputation as a go-to for artisanal Italian wines for over a decade, now spends most of the year in Sicily while scouring the country for cult-worthy juice from under the radar producers. Her team at the shop are extremely knowledgeable, helpful and are capable to surprise any Italian wine aficionado. Although more of a shop than a wine bar, the incredible selection of small-lot, traditional and natural Italian wines can be consumed on the premises: There are a few benches inside to pop open a bottle off the shelf, plus periodic wine tastings with snacks.

Biondivino

3. AltoVino

1358 Mason St
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 834-5766

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When Claudio Villani left InVino, he opened Altovino with the vision to combine seasonal regional Italian food with high-end Italian wines. As Claudio hails from Florence, you should expect the proper homage paid to Tuscany’s regional mascot: Sangiovese. Dusty earth, violet scented plum and cherry Sangio lovers can rejoice alongside a concise list of rosy bramble-like nebbiolo-based bottles from Piedmont and a varied mixed bag of reds and whites from quality, boutique producers from North to South. Come for a bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine porterhouse steak) and a bottle of Chianti or Brunello, or taste through other gems with the seasonal-driven pastas. It’s always a good idea to grab a seat in the bar area where a menu full of finger food (commonly known as stuzzichini) and antipasti is available for pairing.

4. Barbacco

220 California St
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 955-1919

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This FiDi sister bar to Perbacco has a drink menu is divided by classic Italian aperitifs like prosecco spritzes, plus a by-the-glass menu with balanced representation of regional wines such as aromatic whites from Northern Friuli to ethereal reds from volcanic soils of Mt. Etna in Sicily. The bar menu offers just enough variety for casual meal with a bowl of fresh tagliatelle pasta smothered in ragu, or a light snacks like chili toasted almonds and bruschetta with whipped ricotta.