I read somewhere it was Delfina that turned the Mission into a dining destination, which is a pretty impressive accolade when you look at all the amazing restaurants in this area. I can only imagine what a different world this stretch of 18th street must have been when Delfina opened its doors 17 years ago. Now the restaurant is three times its original size, and has an adjacent pizzeria by the same name with which it shares its kitchen. This is a super classic SF establishment, and with plenty of options for the GF crowd, an instant NOBREAD favorite …
The food here is classic, but by no means boring. Most notably, it’s extremely well executed. From the first dish to the last, everything was cleanly and beautifully presented. The atmosphere remains laid back though, making this a destination as appropriate for a date or dinner with your parents as it is for a casual lunch or dinner with friends.
One of my all time favorite dishes, spaghetti pomodoro, is done to perfection here at Delfina – with a GF spaghetti that is almost indistinguishable from regular pasta. All the pastas on Delfina’s menu (except filled pastas) can also be prepared with this spaghetti to make them GF. For the super-sensitive, you should note that Delfina takes care to mitigate the risk of cross contamination by using separate water and separate tongs for GF pasta dishes. The antipasti plates I tried were light and fresh: grilled calamari with warm white bean salad; and mixed greens with pancetta, shaved parmesan, and a simple balsamic vinaigrette. Main course portions were generous; more than enough to share between two people if you’re getting a few other small plates. Chef told me one of her favorite items on the menu is the roasted Mary’s chicken, which we had a bit of a bonding moment over. Some people are reluctant to order chicken when dining out, as they feel it’s something they can easily make at home. But we both agreed that when a chicken is roasted to perfection, it can often be the downright best item on the menu. And this holds true at Delfina based on my experience. Their version is stuffed with vegetables, accompanied by a couple luscious scoops of olive oil mashed potatoes, and finished with a pan sauce that seals the deal. For the red-meat lovers, the Meyer Ranch hanger steak and fries will not disappoint – this one is served over an onion puree, and topped with a lovely bit of marrow on top (*beware of cross contamination with the fries). The rest of the entrees, as well as all of the sides, are or can be modified to be made GF (just ask for no breadcrumbs).
Delfina is lively, fun, and does not make you sacrifice quality for ambiance. Keep this spot in mind for when your pasta craving strikes!