Sotto Mare is a restaurant serving seafood in the North Beach area of San Francisco, CA, otherwise known as “Little Italy.” The name means “under the sea” in Italian, and is a good name for this establishment. The restaurant space originated in 1919 and was restored to its original look in 2003 where the present restaurant theme originated.
Sotto Mare has a very minimalist Menu featuring seafood with or without pasta and very simple salads. The menu was created to be as close to authentic Italian food as possible—cooked just like they do it in Italy.
I was there in 2012, was very happy with my meal and thought my dining companions this evening would be, as well.
The restaurant space is very small, probably seating less than 50 patrons. As such, they do not take reservations for parties less than 3, though you can get on a waiting list if you like. The seating area in this very small restaurant space consists of a handful of tables, seating at the counter adjacent to the kitchen with a few tables outside on the sidewalk.
We all ordered the same thing but no matter, the food was delicious. Two orders of crab cocktail graced out table, which was plenty for the four of us. This dish was very simple, and has about 1/2 lb. of Dungeness crab on an ornamental bed of iceberg lettuce spiced with a dollop of cocktail sauce. The way this dish was made allowed this wonderful local crab variety to almost stand up by itself.
The restaurant prides itself on cioppino ( “The Best Damn Crab Cioppino”) which is a seafood based food stew originating in San Francisco. This literal cauldron of soup was served with a small amount of penne pasta on the bottom and was loaded with seafood. Crab, mussels, clams, scallops, squid and fish were packed into this dish which was literally enough for 2 (hungry) or 3 (not so hungry) people. With the appetizer and a bowl of cioppino for each two diners, this was more than enough food encroaching into the realm of overeating.
Both items ordered at Sotto Mare were delicious. The crab cocktail priced out at $14.00 and the cioppino, which again, was more than enough for two was $41.00. To get food this good for under $60.00 for two in the city is remarkable and makes you realize why lines are out the door at times to eat here. This was a great start to a sampling of the culinary fruits of San Francisco, and I would come back here for a third time without hesitation.
That’s that for another post on Forks.
552 Green St.
San Francisco, CA 94133
All major credit cards accepted, kid’s meals available; open Monday-Saturday: 11 AM – 9:30 PM