Best High-End Italian - 2008
San Francisco is blessed with many excellent Italian restaurants (several of the best have opened in the past couple of years). They include neighborhood pizzerias, osterias, and trattorias. But for alta cucina, the full-on, high-end experience in a posh place offering everything from soup (minestra) to nocce (frutta secca), the ristorante of choice is Perbacco. The glamorous, two-story space can be noisy, but the extraordinarily exciting food, focusing on the Piemonte and Ligurian regions, will rivet your attention. Everything on the extensive menus meets the same high standards: sparkling crudo (raw fish), unusual house-cured salumi, interesting appetizers (including vitello tonnato and fritto misto), soups, pastas, risottos, seasonal main courses, luscious desserts (chestnut Montebianco is a standout), and Italian cheeses. If somebody offers to take you out for a meal anywhere you'd like, Perbacco should be high on your list.