L'Osteria Del Forno
519 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
Bike Parking: Yes
Wheelchair Accessible: No
Cuisines: Mexican, Latin American, Italian, European, Continental, Pizza
Alcohol: Beer, Wine
Takes Reservations: No
Outdoor Seating: No
Price Range : Average
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04/12/2011Provided by Citysearch -
just LOVE this place! If you are looking for simple, delicious Italian food, this is the place to go. We heard good reviews about this place so my husband and I decided to give it a try. We almost missed the place because it is tiny but OMG you feel like you are in Italy!! It feels like visiting your relatives (even though you are not Italian :-) and seat a table with family-cooked, very tasty Italian dishes! The owner told me that they cook everything in their oven.
Now, we go with our daughter because she loves the thin crust pizza; which is very convenient because you can order pizza by the slice for small stomachs :-) My favorite dish is the polenta with gorgonzola - to die for! And my husband (a meat guy) is in love with their pork roast.
We've tried other Italian restaurants in North Beach, more expensive and the food was no better...
09/12/2010Provided by Citysearch -
Owner is a B...... My husband and I couldn't decide on a main dish to share, so the waitress offered some ""marinara"" sauce on the side. It was delicious, but we didn't realize it was made from ""gold"". When I asked for some more, the owner bawled me out like she was my mother. She also charged us $5 for the 4 T. of ""marinara"" that the waitress had brought us. Unbelievable!! She turned what was a wonderful meal into a BAD experience. I will never go there again, and I am telling consierge never to recommend it to anyone.
11/04/2009Provided by Citysearch -
The wait staff was surly and appeared quite bothered to wait on customers. The pasta Bolognese made me wish for a frozen dinner, a frozen dinner offers more food too! If you only accept cash, perhaps they should make note of that prior to presenting the check. They do have a sense of humor, they thought they deserved a 20% tip! Stay away!
10/04/2009Provided by Citysearch -
They make such a perfect thin-crusted pizza that since I first discovered them 15 years ago I've had a hard time bringing myself to tour the menu. Due to the tiny kitchen size, they can't get city approval for any cooking devices but the pizza oven, and their entire repertoire is a function of that odd constraint. They do amazing things with au gratin and roasted vegetables.
The wine list is put together by a schizophrenic. Right now (late 09) I'd recommend the 06 LaGrein from Hofstatter.
Warning: if you want basil on your Margherita, you have to ask. I park in Chinatown and walk 4 blocks.
11/03/2008Provided by Citysearch -
Afraid that their being listed in Zagat might have changed things, we went back to our favorite Italian food restaurant not knowing what we'd find. Everything is as it was when we left it - the food, the wine and the prices are all exactly like we remembered. Great food, especially great prices and brisk, but accommodating service. If you like Olive Garden, don't take up space in this restaurant, please! This is so much more than a chain restaurant could ever be. Obscure and delicious menu items make the dining experience unforgettable. We loved the Belgian endive wrapped in Speck, roasted. The roasted beef appetizer with porcini mushrooms was a perfect starter. But we're still talking about the superb milk roasted pork! Simply awesome.
02/25/2008Provided by Citysearch -
On satuday Feb 23 around 4:30pm my son and I decided to dine at L'Osteria since we've drove by the restruant a few times. As soon as we open the door the waitress gave us a look like, ""What do you want!"". When we walked in I noticed there was only one other table with 3 customers who already placed their order. It took 10mins for them to give a menu then another 20mins to take our order. As we were waiting I also noticed that when the other customers would ask for something the waitress would turn around and roll her eyes at them as if she was being bothered. Then we had to listen to the two waitress bad mouth the third waitress who had just ended her shift..""She's a fu---- bi--- and I'm sick of her sh--!"" Since they weren't discrete about their conversation we had to listen to it all because the place was so small. When the food arrived the waitress just dumped our food on the table and walked away without asking us if we wanted anything else nor did either one of the waitresses check up on us at anytime the way other waitress do. The food was so horrible that after eating only half of our dish we decided to leave and dine at another resturant. We had to ask twice for the check and again, we had to wait...remember, there was only one other table. This place has the most UNCLASSY waitresses who never smiled and looked as if they were mad at the world. The food was terrible and lacked basic flavors. Their advertisement of an authentic Italian resturant is FALSE advertisment....very misleading!
08/06/2007Provided by Citysearch -
There is a perfectly good reason why I'd give this restaurant three stars. A good friend of mine and I went into the city to bum around North Beach and hang out to get away from the East Bay. Neither of us look too particularly young, but we both happen to look around our age, which is about 20 years old. The servers picked up on this almost instantly; it was like they could smell we weren't going to purchase drinks or wine. We poured over the menu and both settled on paninis for lunch.
The paninis were, in fact, excellent. They were just as good as ones I've had in Italy. They were fresh and clean tasting, unlike average American food. The servers, as a result of our food and beverage choices, were incredibly rude. They took forever to take our order and helped people who had just sat down while we had been sitting ten or so minutes; they didn't ask us how our food was; they took our plates away before we were done without asking. And, on the whole, they were unpleasant. Needless to say, we didn't leave an overly generous tip. I would, though, still go back for the sandwiches and/or with a friend for dinner... but I'd feel the need to dress up.
11/12/2006Provided by Citysearch -
I waited for a table for an hour outside and when I finally was seated ordered polenta with gruyere as an entree. It arrived on an off white oval plate with absolutley no garnish or color. The cheese gave it next to no flavor and looked less than appealing. When I asked the waitress for some kind of tomato sauce (which would be fundamental at an Italian restaurant) she said, "" we don't serve it that way"" and walked away. Her attitude seemed to be that the food was so spectacular and innovative that it would a travesty to add anything when in reality it was bland, uninteresting and incredible poorly presented. A few sliced cherry tomatoes or even a spring of basil or rosemary on top would have turned this boring yellow slab into an attractive dish; adding interesting flavor would have required a proficient chef's touch.
It is not worth the wait.
11/04/2006Provided by Citysearch -
I friend raved to me about this place for nearly a week before he took me there and I couldn't stop raving when I left. This tiny italian spot feels like your dining at someone's house. The food is AMAZING, but the ambience I thought, was way off mark. The service is very casual and not necessarily very good, but the food is worth the trip. I promise you'll love it! The prices are very reasonable too.
05/03/2006Provided by Citysearch -
This place is tiny and very narrow, but the food and service was great! Definitely has an older feel---i.e. not hip and trendy, but homey and comfortable. I ordered the special of the day which was cornish hen and it was excellent---not at all dry and the flavors were delicious. It was also pretty reasonably priced--for the two of us, we got a glass of wine, two appetizers, two entrees and two desserts and it came out to about $55. We were both full and very satisfied! I'd go back for a midweek dinner with one or two friends, but probably not with a group or on a weekend as I imagine it'd take awhile to get seated...
03/24/2006Provided by Citysearch -
The review by the ghost just goes to show that you can't please everyone. This place is great! My husband and I eat here once a week, it reminds us of our trips to Italy. I'm sure if one is used to Ital/American food laden with thick sauces and garlic, the food might seem bland, but I think it's a bit more refined. If one is used to ostentatious, man manipulated, American wines, more traditional wines from Italy would not appeal. The pizza at L'Osteria is the best! The roasted meats and vegeatables, so fresh! The service is great, we always feel welcome.
03/10/2006Provided by Citysearch -
This is a fantastic store-front place. I have been coming for over 10 years and it is simple service and simple food done very well. My father has been a chef for over 45 years and loves this spot. Their focaccia is buttery and lovely as are any of their starters, sandwiches or pizzas. I cant believe the previous review. This restaurant is not fine dining. If he thinks the bread has no flavor, then he probably hasnt been to Italy, where the breads have no salt. If people want their food to be exactly from Italy, then go to Italy. There is no hype, thats the point, its just good. Its not a scene or a seen-and-be-seen type of place, either. Their wine is decent, inexpensive wine and isnt trying to win any awards. Visit if you are a real and authentic lover of good relaxing food.
01/23/2006Provided by Citysearch -
Don't be fooled! A long line does not necessarily equate to good dining! DO NOT FALL INTO THIS FALLACY!!!
Waited 40 minutes for a party of 3. Was waiting to be amazed, even with the cramped conditions tried to have an open mind and palate. Was thoroughly disappointed. Carpaccio appetizer- was completely forgettable. They only had green olives-mediocre. Bread -no flavor. Tricolore (tomato/basil/ mozarella) also forgettable. Wine was bad. My wife had the polenta, I had the pasta al forno with Bechemel sauce: disgusting. There were peices of sausage that were dried up (as if left under the broiler all night). Then tried my wife's polenta with the Gruyere cheese- a texture like rubber. Eeeechh! Finished with Tiramisu- yawn. Espresso: OK. And yes, I know Italy: this is nothing like that! Dont believe the hype. Theres nothing special about LOsteria.
12/13/2005Provided by Citysearch -
We go here as often as possible when we are in San Francisco, one of the best places we have eaten anywhere. The pizza is incredible and the roasts amazing. The focaccia sandwiches have to be tasted to be believed.
The only two complaints I have EVER heard about this place are 1) The wait. 2) Waiters not 'attentive'. First off the wait (never waited longer than 30 minutes) is well worth it, partly as it filters out the obnoxious blowhards (which improves the dining experience). 2) The service is not fawning or excessively attentive, and all the better for it. If you don't enjoy your food unless someone is constantly at your elbow then tough, though you probably didn't bother waiting so wont be bothered by this.
In short this place is the best restaurant in SF.
08/11/2005Provided by Citysearch -
I recently came back from Italy and wanted to keep the magic alive so I asked someone where I could find some great Italian food, REAL Italian food, not the Ital/American usual fair of Spaghetti and meatballs, or pasta swimming in alfredo sauce. They pointed me in the direction of L'Osteria del forno. The food, service and ambiance, was well worth the wait. We started w/pumkin ravioli, and scallops for starters, and then shared a pizza(the best!!) and the roasted milk braised pork with salad, and a fabulous yet inexpensive bottle of Italian Red. We finished the wonderful meal with a tiramisu, torta di ricotta, and a couple of grappas and esspressos. Just like in Italy! The food was simple but wonderful! I've read reviews that say the food is pricey, well yes, if you compare l'osteria's salad with the McShaker salad I guess it would seem expensive.
07/05/2005Provided by Citysearch -
After waiting in line for over one hour, and stairing at an empty table for 30 minutes we were happy to find that the food didn't disappoint and was a great value. The pork was tender and delicious, pizza was great and the tiramisu is a must try. The only down side is if you can handle the long wait and somewhat abrupt service.
07/02/2005Provided by Citysearch -
Yes, the lines are long, but for good reason. This intimate restauarant, owned by two Italian sisters, is one of the best and most affordable places to eat in North Beach. My husband and I live just a few blocks away and come here often. We love the unpretentiousness of the place, the coziness (just 10 tables), the excellent list of affordable Italian wines, and the fantastic food. Everything is always fresh, and they make their own focaccia, which is brought warm to your table with a sprinkling of sea salt. You can purchase an entire pizza or very generous slices, but definitely try it. It's some of the best in the city. We also love the Insalata Rustica. And if the Pumpkin Ravioli is on the specials board, definitely try it. It's homemade right in North Beach.
06/17/2005Provided by Citysearch -
this is one of my favorite places to eat ... period. the roast of day (pork in milk sauce) is beyond succulent. i have yet to be disappointed at this hidden gem by either the food, wine or wonderful service. due to it's small size, a wait may be necessary but it' well worth the wait. enjoy.
03/09/2005Provided by Citysearch -
because then it will just be more difficult to get in. When I step throught the door, I feel like I'm in an authentic italian bistro. There are only about 9 tables, so go early or late. The service is unpretentious. It's just great for a leisurely dining experience, but not for high maintenance diners who find themselves constantly flagging down servers.
The food is utterly fantastic, not the typical american/italian fare you find in most places in north beach. The tiramisu is the best, the coffee is fantastic. They don't take reservations.
01/17/2005Provided by Citysearch -
Took a local's opinion and went to l'osteria on a Saturday evening. There was a small wait, as the restaurant is extremely small. Large antipasti menu... skip the bresaola... and try the prosciutto wrapped grilled radicchio. Pizza looked reaallly good, but we didn't get it. bf had the filet mignon that was served with a balsamic reduction glaze. Really good (especially for $14). I had the pasta of the day (baked penne with bolognese, bechamel sauce). Both dishes were really good... ""healthy portions."" We both left full, but larger appetites might want to get more food. Service was okay.. not overwhelming friendly/helpful.. had some difficultly getting their attention at times. Overall great value though.