LIVE TALK

Transcript: San Francisco

Sharron Wood answered your questions on vacationing in San Francisco on March 16, 2004

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San Antonio, TX: There are so many Italian restaurants in and around the North Beach area and I know several of them serve really good food, but how can one find the best bang for the buck?

Sharron Wood: I think the best deal in North Beach is the teeny little Osteria del Forno, where they serve simply prepared but delicious Italian food like pizzas and radicchio salad. It's not fancy, but it has a friendly neighborhood feel and extremely reasonable prices. It's on Columbus Avenue, the main drag through North Beach. They don't take reservations, so be prepared to wait or go for an early dinner (before 6 or 6.30).

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Los Angeles, CA: Hi Sharron, I love Italian food. Please tell me where I can enjoy the best risotto and tiramisu the next time I am in town. Thank you!

Sharron Wood: There's so much good Italian food, it's hard to know where to start. For reasonable prices and a friendly, boisterous neighborhood vibe, I like Jackson Fillmore, in Pacific Heights. But my all-time favorite Italian restaurant in the city is Delfina, in the Mission District. Call *well* in advance for a reservation; it's a very hot restaurant. In North Beach, San Francisco's Little Italy, a lot of the Italian restaurants are mediocre, but Rose Pistola is good. And if you just want to grab some tiramisu for dessert without eating Italian for dinner, stop by Caffe Greco, one of the city's oldest and most atmospheric Italian cafes in North Beach; tiramisu is a specialty there.

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Lima, OH: I will be traveling to San Francisco in July. I hear alot about the different attractions in San Francisco, but one thing I hear very little about is beaches. Are there any many beaches in the area and how far are they away from the city?

Sharron Wood: The reason you don't hear about our beaches is that they are coooooooold. There are beaches within the city limits - Baker Beach and Ocean Beach are the biggest and most visited - but they're mostly good for strolling, flying kites, and enjoying the views. If you're very lucky you'll be able to sunbathe, but the water is both too cold and, in most cases, too dangerous for swimming. For slightly warmer weather and water, head south about an hour and half to the beach town of Santa Cruz, but you'll still be disappointed if you're expecting southern California conditions.

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Calgary, Canada: I am returning to San Francisco with a group of friends for a visit in late May. We will be staying at the Carlton on Sutter. My last trip was a month after 9/11. I recall an Italian restaurant on the north side of Sutter a few blocks from the hotel, but simply can't recall its name. Could you offer a few possibilities? I would know it if I heard it once again. My closest recollection is Vitorrio's, but I may be completely off. Any clues would be most appreciated!

Sharron Wood: Could it be L'Ottavo Ristorante, on Sutter near Taylor? I hope so!

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Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Sharron: Whenever we visit San Francisco (which is at least once or twice a year), my wife and I always pay a visit to either North Beach Pizza or Uncle Vito's (or both), as those are our two favorite spots for great pizza. Can you suggest other pizzerias which serve similarly styled pizzas? Many thanks.

Sharron Wood: My other favorite pizzerias aren't in North Beach. I love the very low key, neighborhood-style Goat Hill Pizza in residential Potrero Hill, where chewy sourdough crust and some unusual topping combos (I love the Greek pizza) mean it has some of the best pies in the city. I also like Pauline's Pizza in the Mission, though the style of pizza is a bit different - cornmeal crust, lots of swanky California ingredients like pesto and goat cheese.

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Seattle, WA: I'm looking for the best deal in San Francisco on a small, European-style hotel that hasn't been discovered yet!

Sharron Wood: The best hotels in San Francisco aren't usually undiscovered, I fear. My favorite European-style hotel is the San Remo, near Fisherman's Wharf, where rooms are small but cute and bathrooms are down the hall. Also very Euro-style is the Golden Gate Hotel downtown. About half of the rooms have private bath and the whole place has an international vibe.

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Indianapolis, IN: Sharron, My wife and I will be going to San Francisco for the first time this April. We will be staying in the Union Square area at the Grand Hyatt. Can you recommend some good places to eat within walking distance that aren't going to put a hurt in the pocket book? We usually like to spend around $20 total for lunch and $40 or so for dinner. We like Italian, Mexican, and American. Sometimes Chinese. We aren't into the Planet Hollywood type places. Thanks for your help.

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