These days, we’re so conditioned to flock to the new and trendy.
But there’s a lot to be said for the classic that’s withstood the test of time.
Sam’s Grill in San Francisco is a true testament to that. It was established in 1867. Let that sink in for a moment. The restaurant opened three years before Golden Gate Park was created, 11 years before the San Francisco Public Library opened, and 31 years before the Ferry Building was built.
It oozes history. And it’s a slice of old-school San Francisco you don’t find much of these days except at other venerated restaurants such as Swan’s Oyster Depot and the House of Prime Rib.
Five years ago, Sam’s Grill almost shuttered. But Peter Quartaroli, one of its former servers and maitre d’s who went on to become a screenwriter, decided to buy the place with help from some loyal customers.
“My Dad used to work in restaurants. And I have worked at downtown San Francisco restaurants since I was a kid,” Quartaroli says. “So many places that became part of the fabric of the city are disappearing. I didn’t want to see Sam’s go away. It was so important to keep it.”
So Quartaroli set about preserving its history while also making it relevant in this era.
It may be a train to nowhere, but it’s guaranteed to take your taste buds on a satisfying ride.
Dad’s Luncheonette opened two years ago in a historic caboose permanently parked on the edge of a shopping center in Half Moon Bay. Ever since then, it’s been drawing hordes to this unassuming spot.
After all, it’s not every day that a chef whose resume includes stints at uber upscale, Michelin three-starred Benu and Saison, decides to set up shop in such unusual and cramped quarters, all of 250 square feet.
But Chef Scott Clark and girlfriend Alexis Liu, owner of San Francisco’s Beacon Coffee & Pantry, were after a less hectic life after the birth of their daughter. When they spied the old caboose, it was love at first sight.
Whether you’re a Bay Area native or not, this book will have you enthralled with the East Bay, the most populous region in the Bay Area. It spotlights 41 restaurants and bakeries, some brand new, and others that have endured for decades — no easy feat in this challenging and competitive market.
I have been a fan of A16 ever since it opened its doors in 2004 in San Francisco’s Marina district. But I may have become an even bigger fan now of its younger sister location, A16 Rockridge in Oakland, which opened in 2013.
That’s because parking is a breeze, especially on an early Sunday evening, as when I visited recently. In contrast, visiting the original location will always involve circling the blocks over and over to hunt for a parking space.
In Oakland, I save time in the car to spend more of it comfortably at my seat in the restaurant, done up in rustic-industrial style with exposed brick walls and duct work on the ceilings.
The restaurant, which takes its name from the highway that spans across Italy from Napoli to Bari, specializes in the food of Campania.
Its wine list is also killer. In fact, Wine Director and Co-Founder Shelley Lindgren won a James Beard Award for it. So when our server recommended a half carafe ($26) of the 2018 Terredora di Paolo “Rosaenovae” Montefusco, Avellino, Campania rose, on the warm summer evening, we knew it would hit the spot. And it did with its pale salmon color, and light, dry, minerally-forward character.
First-time restaurateurs Marc Schechter and Danny Stoller may call themselves and their new San Francisco establishment, the Square Pie Guys.
Even if the pizza is actually rectangular. And even if the other items on the menu deserve top-billing, too, including Asian-style fried chicken wings that nearly steal the show.
Semantics aside, this Detroit-style pizza joint is already winning over fans and making repeat customers, even after being open just a month. On a recent Wednesday night, when I was invited in as a guest, the place was packed.
Detroit-style pizza was born in — where else — the Motor City. Originally, the thick-crust pizza was baked in industrial car parts trays. At Square Pie Guys, the pizzas are baked in deep rectangular pans.