The Historical Triangle
In San Francisco’s North Beach, culturally rich character has prevailed through the decades
San Francisco’s North Beach
Piazza Market’s wine store, which features more than 450 California and Italian wines, all well priced. Both wine and the daily menu of freshly prepared gourmet food items, sold by the pound, are available for taking home or enjoying by the indoor fountain.
Festive Trattoria Pinocchio, where the décor is Venetian and the kitchen purely Sicilian, dominates the bustling intersection of Columbus Avenue and Vallejo Street. Chef Giovanni Zocca prepares classic dishes he learned from his mother and makes his own pastas and limoncello. Desserts, including tiramisu dusted with semi-sweet chocolate and cannoli in a Marsala shell, are made in-house. The wine list focuses on the best of California’s Sonoma and Napa valleys, as well as regional Italian wines. Wines are available even by the half-bottle. A heated sidewalk and exhibition kitchen offer wonderful people-watching opportunities.
A TASTY SOUVENIR OF NORTH BEACH
You will never brew another cup of Yuban once you’ve discovered Graffeo Coffee Roasting Company, a tradition in North Beach since 1935. One of North America’s oldest artisan coffee roasters, and remarkably still family run through the generations, Graffeo is the quintessential boutique coffee roaster and supplier to some of the world’s most renowned eateries. It is, in fact, the coffee served at the Oscars. Graffeo’s rich blends of the finest and freshest Arabica beans, freshly roasted to perfection daily, may be ordered or purchased at one of its four locations: North Beach, San Rafael, Beverly Hills, and Singapore. Since Graffeo has only focused through the years on gourmet roasting and not serving coffee, you’ll need to stop by for your supply of light roast or dark roast to take home as a tasty souvenir of the best of North Beach.
WHERE TO STAY
Washington Square Inn: Boutique hotel with European charm and comfort in the heart of vibrant North Beach boasts Cathedral and Coit Tower views, short cable car rides to most landmarks, afternoon tea, and evening wine and hors d’oeuvres. 1660 Stockton St., (800) 388-0220, www.wsisf.com.
WHERE TO EAT
North Beach Restaurant: House-cured prosciutto hangs in one of the cellar dining rooms, and longtime owner Lorenzo Petroni pours brunellos from his Sonoma Valley vineyard. 1512 Stockton St., (415) 392-1700,
Tratorria Pinocchio: Watch the crowd go by over a glass of limoncello and Chef Giovanni Zocca’s house-made pastas and Sicilian sauces. 401 Columbus Ave., (415) 392-1472, www.trattoriapinocchio.com.
Piazza Market: Restaurateur Sal Chiavino’s concept for North Beach is a triad of wine bar and wine sales, specialty imported foodstuffs, and home-cooked comfort foods served buffet style and priced by the pound. 627 Vallejo St., (415) 981-9881, www.piazzamarket.com.
* Brunch at Mama’s at Washington Square, where fresh-baked breads and pastries complement wholesome American breakfasts. Never mind the long lines.
* Purchasing a pound of freshly roasted organic coffee from Graffeo Coffee Roasting Company.
* A panorama of San Francisco in 1877 and photos taken during and after the 1906 earthquake at North Beach Museum.
* Filbert Steps descending a steep section of Filbert Street from Coit Tower to Sansome Street, used in the 1947 film Dark Passage.
* Views of major landmarks from Coit Tower. Peruse the lobby frescoes.