The Order: Tosca Cafe


Lumaconi, courtesy of Tosca Cafe.

It’s official — Tosca Cafe is an SF institution. Pull up a stool in the heart of North Beach and order a cocktail with a story from the Prohibition Era. Or maybe the in-house extruded pasta and off-menu dishes are your game. Either way, Tosca is the ticket.

Chef April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman‘s ode to the City By The Bay charms on all levels. From the mood lighting to the stellar bar program, date night looks sexy.  The kitchen is helmed by NY native Chef Josh Even (previously from Bloomfield’s East Coast empire) and every dish is on point. When the combinations are endless, dining like a pro is about balance. Your order is up.

Start with: 

Cured Meats: Rotation is key, these are the freshest cuts in-house. Start in Italy’s northern-most province with speck and move your way down the boot to Calabria, the spice capital of salami. Mortadella and a pressed pig’s ear terrine are on the line-up as well as marinated olives with sourdough bread.

Stone Fruit + Melon: Summer is in full swing. What pairs with cured meats better than peak of the season stone fruit and melon? The classic combo of salty, sweet gets a nuttiness from the sunflower purée. It’s almost too pretty to eat, almost.

To drink: 

Negroni: Get the ball rolling as you dig into the antipasti. An expertly mixed negroni with a hand-cut giant ice cube is the right idea.

Then have: 

Lumaconi: If pasta could kill, bang bang. The secrets in the sauce. Prosciutto tips are ground up into a cream sauce. Crunch from the lemon bread crumbs, bitter strips of treviso speckled throughout with fava beans. The large snail shape pasta hits the mark al dente. All the bases are covered. Get it while it’s hot and on the menu.


The Meatballs, courtesy of Tosca Cafe.

Meatballs with Focaccia: Who doesn’t love an off menu item, how about two? The meatballs are made with a mix of pork shoulder and jowl with beef short ribs. Draped in a buttery red sauce, the only way to sop up all of the Italian gold is with fresh garlic embedded, olio verde drizzled, sea salt dusted focaccia.

Halibut: Pan roasted SF halibut fillet skin down for max crispiness. Corn season is in full swing, the fresh corn polenta with cream and salt adds a sweet note to the fish. Italian butter beans, charred summer squash, and confit tomatoes round out a rustic succotash. Overall a dish that is light, fresh and just rich enough for summer.

Drink this: 

Punta Crena ‘Vigneto Isasco’ Rossese:  A Ligurian light red with vibrant fruit and acid. The coastal region of Italy gives the wine a salinity that makes it sing with the halibut.

Just desserts: 

House Cappuccino: Some may have a second stomach just for dessert, in which case the tiramisù is a cloud of cream. But if you’re in the mood for a nip and some chocolate, then order up a house cappuccino and a taste of history. Dating back to Prohibition, the recipe is from 1919 when the family used the cappuccino as a mask for booze. A dark chocolate ganache is spiked with Marie Duffau Bas Armagnac bourbon and topped with milk froth.

You’re all set. Make your Resy at Tosca Cafe today.