I have lived in the Bay Area for over 11 years and frequent North Beach restaurants because there are so many great places to eat. Yet, in all the years here I have never been to Mona Lisa Restaurant. I am sure it’s because I probably felt it was touristy, although, what North Beach restaurant isn’t?
Nestled on Columbus Ave between more famous places such as the Stinking Rose and Molinari Deli, Mona Lisa looks tiny from the outside, but boasts quite a large dining room on the inside.
The service was slow at first, but once our waiter noticed us it was quite attentive. I wanted to order a bottle if wine but feared it would take a millennium so we opted for glasses. A generous pour, I was quite happy and it came in less than 3 minutes.
With 79 pastas to choose from and 27 risottos the menu can seem daunting. But we managed to make a few choices, here they are:
We split an insalata Purami salad thinking it was going to be giant for $12, but it wasn’t and in fact, splitting it was the portion size.
They offered all kinds if dishes, such as pizza, chicken, fish, pasta, antipasti, and meat, but we came for pasta so that’s what we ordered.
– Penne Salsa Rosa – a Penne pasta in a tomato cream sauce was full of flavor and just enough food. I was pleased that the portions were not “tourist” size (gigante).
– Penne Alla Bolognese was also properly portioned. The meat tasted a little cheap, but the pasta and sauce were flavorful enough to mask it.
Pleasantly satisfied, I would eat there again.