I’ve dined a handful of times in New York’s Little Italy and Boston’s West End. But I’ve had hundreds of meals in my home town’s North Beach neighborhood. Famed for its family-run establishments, we left the 80-degree warmth of San Rafael, crossed the Golden Gate into San Francisco, and entered the foggy 60-degree climate of this vibrant Italian district to dine at Trattoria Pinocchio with our good friend, Chris and Val.
They were lined up around the block to get in! Because of its prime locale at Columbus and Vallejo, betwixt Broadway and Washington Square, this popular spot caters to tourists in the summer and locals year-round who appreciate its personable service, abundant wine list, and delicioso Sicilian specialties: homemade pastas, filet mignon, veal, seafood and cioppino, speciality Italian deserts, and signature cocktails.
Waiting at the bar, I loved seeing all the different wooden boy puppets and Disney books –– a tribute to the restaurant’s nomenclature.
We started with Italian Antipasto, followed by green spinach ravioli in pesto sauce, mushroom risotto and overflowing plates of veal parmesana with spaghetti, all accompanied by a very smooth Chianti Classico Macheavelli. Though we were as stuffed as the gnocchi, we made room for tiramisu. Everything was absolutely delicioso.
Owner Giovanni Zocca and chef Salvatore Fraterrigo run a warm, friendly restaurant. It features an outdoor heated sidewalk cafe and floor-to-ceiling windows, all perfect for people watching.
The restaurant was also voted one of North Beach’s Top Pasta Restaurants by the San Francisco Chronicle in 2004.
A: 401 Columbus Avenue (corner of Vallejo), San Francisco, CA 94133.