Start the day immersed in the heady aroma of roasting coffee at Trieste Cafe. In this iconic Italian coffee shop (est 1956) you can settle behind a formica table in the corner to watch the stream of eclectic customers. Sip on an espresso, raise your eyebrows to those captured on the vintage wall of fame and rock to the 60s classics on the juke box. Bring a notebook if you wish to assimilate and appear thoughtful. If you return, you will be remembered by the staff.
If you are in Little Italy you can't pass on a fresh pastry. Victoria Pastry just off Washington Square has been brimming with sweet stuff since 1914. If filled Sicilian treats are your thing try the cannoli stuffed with choc-chip studded ricotta. We also recommend the rich creamy lusciousness of the sacripantina with zabaione mousse. Eat them in the park opposite and if you are contemplating the hike up to Coit Tower, grab a bag of cookies to fuel you to the top.
Join the locals in Washington Square for a picnic lunch, or relax atop Telegraph Hill while savouring the view. Supplies can be found in the postage stamp-sized "Little Vine" on Grant, which is filled with an extensive selection of cheese, salami, baguettes and a plethora of yummy accompaniments. If you feel overwhelmed grab one of their daily sandwiches packed with gourmet produce. Alternatively head to Giovanni's for Italian style fare such as freshly made piadina or panzerotto. Both spots have drinks to match your mood.
Whether you are eating in or taking out by the slice, this is the home of San Francisco pizza, Italian style. You have to do what everyone does and visit Tony's. Settle into a banquette, grab a perch outdoors or head to the Slice House. The pizza base is perfetto and will be cooked in one of seven pizza ovens on site. Try the purple potato topping with bacon and feta, drizzled with the house pesto. It's insane! If Tony is around, say hi, he is super-friendly and it's great to see a celeb chef still hands-on in the kitchen.
Vanessa Baxter is a food and travel writer and runs The Fearless Kitchen in Auckland.