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Acquerello: Exceptional Italian Cuisine in San Francisco

Ridged pasta with faux foie gras, black truffle, and Marsala at Acquerello.

Acquerello: Two Michelin Stars for Exceptional Italian Cuisine

It’s not often that we fly to a city just to eat, but when the restaurant is Acquerello, my bags are packed–let’s go!

Acquerello is a quaint, charming, and delicious restaurant in San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighborhood.

For 30 years, it’s been a hot spot offering Italian fine dining. It’s easy to understand why. The wood-beam vaulted ceilings, large beautiful floral arrangements, and artwork set the stage while the food and wine steal the show. Overall, it’s a luxuriously elegant experience. 

The restaurant offers a Prix Fixe Menu featuring Italian classics and creative creations using Italian flavors in the dishes. From handmade pasta to closing the evening with house-made chocolates, Acquerello takes our tastebuds on an adventuresome ride through Italy without leaving California. 

Click on the image to enlarge

Acquerello Prix Fixe Menu

Operated by Giancarlo Paterlini and Executive Chef Suzette Gresham, Acquerello has earned two Michelin stars and is worth a visit.

John and I have been there twice, once in May 2019 (we celebrated our engagement) and again after COVID in January 2023 when we were heading to Oregon to see the Rolling World Premiere of “Man and Moon.”

Both times, the food and wine were exceptional. 

We enjoyed their Prix Fixe menu (four courses with several options to choose from; the final course is dessert).

And we somehow made room for their lovely cheese platter with aged cheeses. It’s so good. The cheese is rich and perfectly paired with wines from Italy–Acquerello only serves Italian wine. 

Italian Wines at Acquerello

The 2020 Isole e Olena Collezione Privata Chardonnay Toscana IGT wine, with its crisp acidity and outstanding minerality, makes it the perfect choice for our rich Italian dishes as it pairs well with butter and aged cheeses. The Chardonnay is from central Italy.
Isole e Olena is halfway between Siena and Florence in the Chianti Classico hills–and is known for its Chianti Classico. But, in 1976, winemaker Paolo de Marchi moved to his family’s estate and brought fresh ideas. He grafted over white varietals to Chardonnay, planting vines in limestone and clay.

De Marchi has been producing Chardonnay since the late eighties, and it has become a superstar. As one of Tuscany’s most well-known vintners, his Chardonnay is quite popular, even though previously, most wine critics wouldn’t have considered Italy for a Chardonnay. But that has changed thanks to his wine.

Fèlsina Vin Santo del Chianti Classico–a lovely dessert

We finished the evening with a glass of Fèlsina Vin Santo del Chianti Classico–a lovely dessert wine. The wine is a pretty amber color and has notes of butterscotch, apricot, peach, and the aroma of tropical dried fruit.

Fèlsina was founded in Italy in 1966 and uses a winemaking technique that transfers “the mother”–the thick yeast substance from a previous vintage’s cask–is passed on to the next. Vin Santo (usually considered a sweet wine but can vary significantly in sweetness) refers to an ancient winemaking tradition where the grapes are matured in an oxidative environment (typically on mats or hanging) for several months until they become almost raisins. They’re then pressed and placed in casks for natural fermentation, which can take up to four years.

You can drink this wine now or age it for another 20-plus years.

Overall Impression of Acquerello

We’ve come here twice, so that should give you a clue. Each time, it’s been a unique and completely enjoyable experience. We love the team and restaurant and highly recommend you book your reservation for Acquerello. You can book up to three months in advance. If you go, let us know how you like it. 

Try a Plant-Based Michelin Star Restaurant in New York

Eleven Madison Park used to serve meat, but now it’s a Michelin-starred restaurant that’s entirely plant-based. Join us for this extraordinary cuisine. 

When I’m not blogging about travel and lifestyle, I’m creating digital content and marketing strategies for clients. I share stories that matter about your brand and teach clients to "Be the Media." I was named a "Top 50 Podcaster To Follow" for my podcast "The Brand Journalism Advantage." Listen on iTunes or at ThinkLikeAJournalist.com

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