Simple charms: geraniums in tomato cans + pasta

August 4, 2013
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North Beach, San Francisco

Sometimes, the simplest decor tells the whole story. The brightly labeled contents of these tomato cans were used to make tomato sauce and the re-purposed to serve as a colorful pot for geraniums, waving their happy heads in the sunshine. This simple display vibrates with Italian intensity and joy. It was a clue as to what was to come.

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Charming Caffe Macaroni in North Beach

When a friend suggested we eat Italian for lunch in San Francisco the other week, I wasn’t sure where to go. Those of us of Sicilian descent are pretty picky about our red sauce, and as for meatballs? Well, no one makes meatballs like our mothers.

There are so many terrible Italian restaurants in North Beach–it’s pretty much a crap shoot. But she knew of this place and I’m glad she introduced me to it.

There are only a few tables, and it’s on busy Columbus St. But the food is terrific and it’s run by real Italians. Except for the traffic, we could’ve been in any small Italian town.The waiter was young, adorable and had the kind of Italian accent that means he’d been here only a short time. He recognized me immediately as a member of the tribe.

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Too much traffic to make eating outdoors pleasurable. So get there early for an indoor table.

The sauce was very good and while the meatballs weren’t exactly like Mom’s (whose are?), they were delicious.  If you want an authentic, Italian restaurant experience without hordes of tourists, Caffe Macaroni in San Francisco is worth a stop.

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2 comments on “Simple charms: geraniums in tomato cans + pasta
  1. Julie Phelps says:

    Oh my, this brings me to a place of wistful nostalgia. Wile living in North Beach I imagine I logged at least 15 miles each week, JUST on Columbus. The smells, the people, the commaraderie… Pastry shops, bread shops, Molinari’s, the various languages and accents and attire, a glass of wine at a sidewalk table…

  2. It’s got so many charms, doesn’t it? How long were you there?

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