When it comes to Italian restaurants in San Francisco, there’s rustic Italian and froufrou Italian and Acquerello serves froufrou Italian, meaning refined, contemporary, inventive Northern Italian cuisine that is lighter than rustic Italian. It is now a classic fixture in culinary San Francisco. The setting in the small dining room is simple and romantic, with butter-coloured walls and dreamy watercolors of Venice. You may encounter lobster, a seared carpaccio of halibut, or pappardelle with rabbit. Bring a date to woo because you won’t stumble into one here, where the crowd tends to couples who have transcended trendiness. Some of the younger kids on the block are boasting about their Italian wine lists, but Acquerello’s Giancarlo Paterlini has been an ambassador for these unsung wines for years. Take some advice from the master, and check out the “our suggestions” portion of the list, which offers wines chosen for their exceptional value and quality (even if you’ve never heard of them before). The wine list offers a huge list of distinguished wines, mostly from small producers in Italy and California. Talented chef Suzette Gresham creates exquisite Italian fare with high-end ingredients, served in an intimate dining room. She and Paterlini have created a combination that works as fluidly as some of the best marriages: His wine list, which specializes in the Piemonte region, offers the perfect accompaniments for Gresham’s luxurious cuisine.