Revisiting San Francisco’s North Beach: Tony’s Napoletana & Giordano Brothers

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The Classic Margherita @ Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, North Beach.

In my line of work, I probably eat about five pizzas per week on average. It’s one of the perks and pitfalls of working at an Italian restaurant: On most days, pizza provides a quick and easy “family meal” for the kitchen and restaurant staff. The downside to eating pizza for family meal is that I don’t think I’ve eaten any other restaurant’s pizza for over a year now, the lone exception being a deep dish pie at Gino’s East in Chicago (my late-night dinner at Gino’s East capped a one-day road trip where I ate breakfast at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans and lunch at Rendezvous Ribs in Memphis). Even then, I devoured that Geno’s pie way back in April, so it’s been a while.

Today, I finally decided to allow other pizzas into my [… read more …]

The Slim Joe Burger @ Mama’s on Washington Square

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The Slim Joe Burger @ Mama’s on Washington Square, San Francisco

I’m working on an extensive ramen piece, which is why I haven’t posted in a while. Along the way, I forgot to share this picture of the Slim Joe Burger from Mama’s on Washington Square, where I enjoyed a late lunch a couple weeks ago, after a mediocre-yet-encouraging round of 18 at Presidio. For me, the Slim Joe is about as good a hamburger as you could expect from a place where everything on the menu is well-prepared and delicious.

Although I wouldn’t designate this burger as a signature item at Mama’s (the Monte Cristo forever holds that title), I wouldn’t ever discourage anyone from ordering the Slim Joe, either. Quite simply, if you want a good and honest burger, this is that. Incidentally, the key to any sourdough sandwich is the bread: Use a baguette that [… read more …]

Contemplating the Pan Dore @ Mama’s on Washington Square

Stay Golden. The Pan Dore @ Mama's on Washington Square, San Francisco: Sourdough French toast, thinly sliced apples, and a sweet lemon-butter sauce.

Although my kitchen Spanish is pretty sharp these days, I’ll admit that it took some googling to decode the etymology of Mama’s delicious pan dore, pictured above. The word pan, of course, means “bread” — I did know that much already — but the word dore had me stumped. I eventually concluded that the dish must take its name from a conjugation of the Spanish verb dorar, to gild, or in the culinary realm, to make golden brown. As a word geek, the term “pan dore” got me thinking about some of the world’s other aliases for French toast, many of which point to meager beginnings. In France, for instance, this same dish would be called pain perdu, or “lost bread,” heeding the frugal idea [… read more …]