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Home to San Francisco’s oldest and most beloved wood-fired pizza oven. Two famous restaurateurs, Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck, modeled their own restaurant brick pizza ovens on Tommaso’s.
The history of Tommaso’s began 70 years ago in a tiny Italian restaurant on Kearny Street, a few doors below the hubbub of Broadway in San Francisco’s North Beach. The restaurant opened in 1935 with the first wood-fired brick pizza oven on the West Coast. Called Lupo’s in those days, the owners were the Cantolupo family, immigrants from Naples, who served pizza and Neapolitan dishes based on closely guarded family recipes.
In 1971 the family retired and gave the restaurant to their long-time chef, Tommy Chin, who had come on board in 1936. When Tommy Chin took over he decided to change the name to an Italianate version of his own name and Lupo’s became Tommaso’s. Today, you can still find the mural of one struggling artist who painted the family’s beloved Bay of Naples on the walls of the restaurant in trade for a few plates of pasta. Later the restaurant became a favorite of jazz musicians from the Jazz Workshop and the hungry looking for a place to eat after a late night gig.
The Crotti family arrived in America to build a life in San Francisco’s North Beach. Agostino, the eldest son, soon found work at Cafe Trieste and befriended Francis Ford Coppola, to whom he served espresso while Coppola worked on the script for The Godfather. Agostino helped out at Tommaso’s one evening, and Tommy approached him, asking if he wanted to buy the restaurant. The Crottis bought the restaurant in 1973, with Tommy Chin staying on to teach them how to make the original recipes. Coppola became a regular, bringing friends like Robert Duvall, Andy Garcia and George Lucas. Tommaso’s today remains a North Beach favorite and a true family-run restaurant.
Categories: Cafe's & Restaurants
Updated 3 months ago.