In a city known for it’s seafood, Sotto Mare in San Francisco still manages to stand out. It’s been featured on food shows and travel shows and is labeled a must visit when in the San Francisco Bay Area. The restaurant is located on a small street near the Little Italy portion of the city. It doesn’t have a flashy store front, but you will smell the deliciousness as you approach and you will know you have found the right spot.
The restaurant is small and cozy with plenty of cutesy decorations on their wall. There isn’t too much seating to speak of and I would bet my bottom dollar though that they are constantly full in the evening… Luckily, they were not too busy when I arrived in the middle of a Monday afternoon. Which was great because I was HUNGRY.
They have a variety of shellfish on their menu such as oysters, clams and mussels. All brought in daily. The prices are reasonable so I opted to try their oysters and clams. Both were so fresh and were served with some excellent horseradish, Seems like a weird thing to focus on, but it was so good…and I don’t even normally like horseradish!
Now the shellfish is delightful, but the real stars of their menu are their Italian influenced seafood dishes and none compares to their “best damn crab cioppino”. If you don’t know what cioppino is.. then my friends, you have not been living. Cioppino is a fish stew that is traditionally made with the fresh catch of the day. Luckily, in San Francisco that consists of shrimp, mussels, clams, squid, scallops and crab! Tons of crab. Then it is all stewed together in a hearty tomato soup and served with sourdough bread. In short, it is seafood heaven. The bowl is $40 but is good enough for two hungry people and maybe three if you are feeling generous. There were only two at our table and no left overs to be found.
In all the times I have visited San Francisco, this was my first time at Sotto Mare. I usually do not eat at the same places when I visit my favorite city by the bay since there are so many extraordinary establishments to try, but Sotto Mare may just become a regular spot for me when I am in the area. I mean, any place that serves that much seafood in a bowl deserves a new loyal customer. Wouldn’t you agree?