Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Second Life

Resurrected by A-listers, Tosca Cafe is better than ever


When he played Harvey Milk, Sean Penn defined one of SF's most iconic eras.

Now he's simply saving them.

Upon hearing that North Beach legend Tosca Cafe might be closing, Penn did what had to be done, saving maybe the only restaurant in town where you can rub shoulders with Johnny Depp, Metallica, the Coppolas, and drunken Beat poets.

But that's not to say that Penn's team didn't make some improvements.

Those iconic red booths? Now wrapped in leather. That Prohibition-era house cappuccino? Now with dandelion chocolate (plus steamed milk and a shot of brandy). The urinals in the bathroom? Now crowned by Marilyn Monroe herself.

The best part of all? Tosca's finally serving food for the first time in over fifty years.

Antipasti, grilled polenta, and roasted chicken for two highlight the Italian menu's irresistible large and small plates by famed wizard/chef April Bloomfield (New York’s Spotted Pig and The Breslin).

But this is still a place to drink, so grab a classic cocktail (Choke Hold or Casino Bar Negroni) or trust barkeep Isaac Shumway (Bourbon & Branch) to mix something legendary.

That's kind of the theme here.

Tosca Cafe toscacafesf.com
242 Columbus Ave (at Broadway), North Beach
(415) 986-9651

Price: 2 (out of 4)
Noise: 2 (out of 4)
Parking: Metered street
Scene: Foodies, barflies, Beat poets, and SF's old guard
Best bets: Secret off-menu meatballs; fried artichokes; grilled short rib
Still singing: The jukebox (opera tunes for a quarter) and piano remain.
Nearby: Vesuvio; Rickhouse; Comstock Saloon

Spread The Word

More Stories

Recent Rundowns