Tell me what you want, what you really, really want. Well I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want. I want to start with a nice cold antipasto with some prosciutto, salami, cheese, olives, tomatoes, maybe roasted peppers. Then a nice appetizer like clams oreganata, or a classic pasta dish like liguine or baked ziti (nothing nouveau).
Then for the main item you're going to have a nice veal dish like parmigiana (and not paper thin and dry either), osso bucco, or even eggplant parmigiana.
None of these items is negotiable.
Also you should be very comfortable: preferably in a booth, and it should be a little bit dark and cool in the restaurant. Maybe a couple of (union) waiters smoking out by the back door.
Of course anywhere in NYC, LI, or Jersey, this old-school Italian experience can be enjoyed easily.
I challenge you to find it in SF.
I really, really, do.