Every time we walked through North Beach, the Little Italy of San Francisco, I was overwhelmed by the wonderful smell of garlic. Naturally, I felt it necessary to try one of the restaurants here, especially after reading all the menus (restaurants here have to post their menus outside which is nice because I find it easier to know what you’re in for before being seated at a restaurant). After a long, cold, rainy, day we were looking for some “comfort food” and settled on The Mona Lisa based on the extensive menu and the fact that it was packed compared to other restaurants in the area. In my opinion, when all else fails while trying to pick a restaurant, go where it looks the most crowded, chances are, the folks in there know something you don’t.
The service was wonderful and prompt for the restaurant being so busy and everyone who worked there had a thick Italian accent, so we were off to a good start. There was olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the tables, so I was really excited for the bread basket to arrive. The Italian bread was mediocre; nothing special that I couldn’t go buy from the supermarket, but at least I could dip it in oil and vinegar!
For an entrée, I order the seafood risotto that was in a white wine sauce instead of the traditional red you see most places, which I really enjoyed. I love white wine risottos and the addition of seafood left me giddy with anticipation. My seafood mixture consisted of prawns, mussels, Dungeness crab, and baby calamari. The Arborio rice was perfectly cooked al dente and the seafood was incredibly fresh. My only complaint here was that the white wine flavor was a little bit lost in the mix, perhaps masked by the salty seafood? The dish definitely wasn’t bad at all, just lacking a tad based on my personal preferences.
All in all, this was a decent Italian restaurant and definitely had a huge, overwhelming menu, so chances are, everyone can find something to eat here. If I ever find myself back in San Francisco, I’ll probably check out one the many other Italian restaurants before heading back here to see what else is out there.
*I apologize for the poor picture quality. Yet another restaurant with “poor” lighting…at least for taking photos!