"Italian" places in SF tend to be of 2 styles: Italian-American like Cafe Sport and more upscale regional Italian places. Cafe Sport is an excellent example of the former as are any of the "Joe’s" places. I used to go to Little Joe’s on Broadway but my favorite was the US Restaurant until that venerable place sold out and moved. It reopened on Columbus but I can’t vouch for the new version.
But if you are willing to look at some of the more upscale Italian spots, consider Delfina ( http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/listings/restaurants/venuetop2006?vid=181373 ), Incanto ( http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/listings/restaurants/venuetop2006?vid=181503
), or Acquerello ( http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/listings/restaurants/venuetop2006?vid=181582
Good news for both of us (I’m going home in 2 weeks) on the weather, by the way: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/04/13/MNGQBI8GHB1.DTL
Thanks for tips, BT. I will check these reataurants out while I tour around S.F. A nostalgic note regarding Little Joe’s & Mama’s: In my first trip to S.F. I was staying at a place on Stockton and Bay. I walked up the street and stumbled upon Mama’s one morning and ate breakfast there (and subsequently ate there every morning–no lines on weekdays). I also stumbled on Little Joe’s, and ate lunch there, at the counter. The pasta was good and it was entertaining to watch the cook tossing pasta in skillets over raging flames on the stove. A musical note: I also stumbled on the Jerry Garcia Band playing at the Keystone Theater. This was in early December, and I later found that he played there every year at that time, which coincided with later visits.