Visitors came to town over the weekend and we did the obligatory North Beach Columbus Ave walk at around lunchtime. Keeping in mind the recent Chronicle article about North Beach pasta places, we decided to try a very unassuming place called Cafe Puccini and ordered : Linguine with Clam Sauce, a plate of Marinara Penne, and a Hot Pastrami sandwich($6.95).
The pasta dishes at Cafe Puccini are all the same price so the Penne and Linguine costed the same($8.95) but the Linguine came with about 9 whole manila clams in shell, was cooked in a sauce swimming with large chunks of minced clams and had enough pasta to share with two people. The Penne was something I could have whipped up in 5 minutes with a hotplate and was a real disappointment.
Servings at the restaurant are huge and the table next to us ordered large bowls of minestrone that, along with the complimentary foccacia bread, could easily be a meal in and of itself.
I'll admit that I've never explored North Beach in great depth but I think the price-value ratio at Cafe Puccini would be hard to beat.