At first glance, Delfina might not look like one of San Francisco’s top restaurants: the zinc tables are linen-less, the waiters are heavily tattooed and pierced, and the room is filled with a happy clamor rather than a reverent hush. But there’s a reason why tables here are booked weeks in advance. Chef and co-owner Craig Stoll’s Tuscan-influenced dishes—like grilled calamari on warm white-bean salad, tripe alla Fiorentina (sliced thin, then baked with tomatoes and onions in a wood-fired oven), and nettle-filled fresh ravioli—are sublime. And those heavily inked servers? They just happen to be near-perfect practitioners of the art: deeply knowledgeable but not snooty, welcoming without being overfamiliar.
Tip: If you don’t have a reservation and can’t score a walk-in seat at the counter, head to Pizzeria Delfina next door for a Neapolitan-style pie and a glass of Aglianico.
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From the From the May 2008 Food & Wine Go List
<a href="/bestnewchefs/?year=2001&chef=0BD91D5B-3D35-4042-8D97BE2604B8BF32">Craig Stoll (an F&W Best New Chef 2001)</a> runs this inspired Cal-Italian Mission spot, one of the Bay Area's favorite neighborhood restaurants.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.