Most visitors to San Francisco know about the dime-a-dozen Italian restaurants in North Beach. But few have ventured to La Ciccia, a little gem of a Sardinian restaurant in Noe Valley.
La Ciccia is famous for its "Prupisceddu in Umidu", or stewed octopus.
SFoodie picked it as one of the 92 best dishes in SF, noting "in the wrong hands, octopus tentacles can end up having the tough, rubbery texture of an over-abused kid's toy. At La Ciccia, however, they are stewed slowly until they are meaty, chewy yet pliant, bathed in a rich, piquant, brick-red tomato sauce."
"The "bottarga" is absolutely unbelievable, downright addictive. The pizzas are crisp and light and every other dish is superbly prepared. Hands down my favorite place in Noe valley."
This restaurant is very different from what you'd expect from "regular" Italian food — after all, Sardinia is a Mediterranean island with its own unique culture and cuisine, and La Ciccia dances to a different beat, too.
The food here is organic, super fresh and relies heavily on seafood (the octopus stew is to-die-for, as is the calamari, which isn't your typical rings of fried batter thing but comes as a whole grilled baby squid).
What makes La Ciccia such a truly great neighborhood restaurant is the inviting, unpretentious husband-and-wife team who run it. The chef Massimiliano is a former wine merchant — which accounts for the restaurant's list of 180 Italian labels (around a quarter of which are from Sardinia). Lorella, who's front-of-house, used to be a concierge at the — ahem — Mandarin Oriental.
La Ciccia actually means "fat of the belly," which tells you something about its warm, homestyle vibe.