This Cole Valley enoteca is under the close watch of Claudio Villani, un vero Italiano with an extensive history working in quality restaurants like Perbacco, so you can bet he’s going to be pouring you some notable Italian wines. (If the little tag on your glass telling you what variety it is seems familiar, Villani was the opening wine director for Incanto, where he came up with that little touch.) The list has a particular focus on Alpine and volcanic wines of Italy, and good value is also important — we love that. Food options are very enoteca-like, including a looong list of tasty, artisan Italian cheeses, plus some fresh-sliced salumi, very thin-crust pizzette that are easy to share, and more antipasti. This piccolo place has a contemporary look, with a marble counter, cherry red overhead lights, and even some outdoor seating. If you want to learn more about — and taste! — Italian wine, you’re in good hands here.
108 Carl, SF. www.inovinosf.com
Probably the most stylish of the vino newcomer bunch is this Mission post-modern hideaway, just enough off busy Valencia to keep things from getting too crazy-packed. Proprietor Bodhi Freedom also owns Bacchus wine bar, so he knows a thing or two about hospitality — and wine. The list has some quality European picks, ranging from $9 to $15, although the wallet-friendly bottle prices will inspire you to go with a friend and split one. This place is so perfect for a date — the lights are just dim enough, and a beautiful oyster platter to share will get things started nicely. The menu, from chef Caleb Jones, goes beyond cheese and salumi: Burrata with seasonal vegetables, hamachi crudo, and mussels in muscadet broth perfumed with tarragon are excellent (you may want to request more of the Della Fattoria bread to soak up that gorgeous buttery broth). If you’re solo, the wine bar can be a friendly spot to hang out, and there’s always some fun vinyl playing on the stereo, from Led Zep to George Michael.
3565 20th St, SF. www.20spot.com
La Ciccia owners Massimiliano Conti and Lorella Degan may have created this enoteca as a place to handle overflow, and to offer a casual and easy place for their customers to swing by. But it has ended up as popular and packed as their first restaurant. (Yeah, they have a big fan club.) La Nebbia features a cheese list of fresh and creamy picks, and the selection of 10-plus hams includes a 36-month San Daniele prosciutto that will blow your mind, man. Try to sit at the wine bar for maximum wine tasting and pairing shenanigans. Most of the wines on the list come from cloudy areas (la nebbia means “fog”), so expect wines from the Veneto, Piemonte, and Montalcino, with an eye toward sustainability and food-friendliness. There are a bunch of wines by the glass; you’ll get turned on to some new ones at all budget levels. Bubbly lovers will be especially pleased with the tingles on offer here. And the cold lasagne? Try it, it’s one of the many surprises on the menu. Conti and his team are having a fun time with the food here.
1781 Church, SF. www.lanebbia.com
This downtown bistro is (somewhat sneakily) holding an absolutely fantastic wine list a bit close to its chest. Co-owner Andrew Fidelman has assembled a French wine lover’s treasure map that is deeply focused on Gascony, the home region of fellow owner Laurent Manrique. Bonus: The drinking list does double-duty as a shopping list (at retail prices), so the next time you need to grab a bottle after work, here’s your spot. The menu boasts some rocking deviled eggs with duck bacon, and the roasted duck dish is also magnifique — although I could do without its campfire-like presentation: It’s too smoky when it comes to the table. The riz au lait for dessert is a must, you won’t find anything like it in SF. Aquitaine’s a popular spot for lunch, although you may very well need to make it a long, drinking lunch. The décor feels a bit like someone’s grand-mère put it together. (So. Many. Sunflowers.) But it does have an authentic Frenchy-coziness to it. You’ll leave well-fed and tipsy.
175 Sutter, SF. www.aquitainesf.com
Marcia Gagliardi is the founder of the weekly tablehopper e-column; subscribe for more at www.tablehopper.com. Get her app: Tablehopper’s Top Late-Night Eats. On Twitter: @tablehopper.