Bar Bambino is fronted by a rather unimpressive entrance on a rather questionable block in the Mission and calls itself a café and wine bar, except its not: this is one of the best and most original modern Italian restaurants in San Francisco. It has captured the hearts of hipsters from the ‘hood, as well as a smattering of Castro and SoMa types. Inside, a long marble bar invites single diners, and modern fixtures with rustic elements (rough-hewn leather menus and napkin ties) feel at once homey and chic. The cozy heated patio, hidden from the street, is like a welcome bit of suburbia amid the gritty urban. Italophiles will love the selection of 175 wines from the boot and an extensive menu of antipasti and bruschette. Go for house-made salumi, spaghetti and meatballs, and a boisterous time over great wine with friends. The lovely weather-proof patio encased in light California cedar and palm fronds is as friendly as the staff and refreshing as the food and wine. There is a white marble and dark wood bar and the wine list is impressive. And, along with the cozy yet bright atmosphere and knowledgeable yet warm staff, it’s all worth the cab ride. Start with the ever-changing selection of antipasti, and order anything with cheese, to take advantage of the on-site cheese monger. The wine list is predominantly populated by perfectly picked Italian wines, but the occasional Slovenian, Croatian and Austrian selections are more at home in Bar Bambino than they might seem. Owner Christopher Losa tells tale of Bambino’s deliberate food and wine evolution along the path of the Hapsburg Empire. Ask him, and he’ll tell you all about it, history lesson and all.