Caffe BaoNecci: Great Gay Friendly Family-Owned North Beach Restaurant

Published Date Author: , April 15th, 2011

Caffe BaoNecci - San FranciscoWe just got back from a quick one-day trip down to San Francisco – we drove down from Sacramento in the morning, took an architectural tour (more on that later), and then headed up to North Beach for something we’d read about a few months ago on the San Francisco Chronicle website – Dinner and a Movie at Caffe Baonecci.

Caffe Baonecci is a cute little Italian ristorante on Green Street, just one block east of Columbus, on the bottom floor of a converted Victorian. Run by the Gambaccini family who bought the old Danilo Bakery about five years ago, this is a place where you can come to talk with real Italians and hear real Italian spoken – a rarity these days in North Beach.

We’ve been learning Italian for three years, something we initially flirted with back in 2005 when we took an Italian for Travelers course before our three week trip to Italy. But even if you don’t speak the language, Caffe BaoNecci is a charming, friendly place with great food, and the family – Walter and his radiant wife Stefania and their two sons, Elia and Filippo – are fluent in Italian and English, and will welcome you warmly.

Caffe Baonecci

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Every second Thursday, the restaurant hosts a dinner and move night, and yesterday was no exception. The movies are Italian with english subtitles, and represent both classics and modern Italian romantic comedies.

Last night, the film was Mine Vaganti (Loose Cannons), a film directed by Ferzan Ozpetek (Saturn in Opposition, Facing Windows) – with a great gay theme. Tomasso, one of two heirs to their father’s pasta factory fortune, comes home from Rome to come out to his family. But his brother unexpectedly one-ups him, and the film veers in an unexpected direction.

We arrived for the night at 6 PM, and Stefania and Elia were setting up for the evening. The film is shown on a big flat screen above the bar, so we selected good seats, and settled in to watch the other guests arrive. These included an older Italian couple, a group of women friends, and a new student of Italian who has been studying the language for just 9 weeks, but is picking it up surprisingly quickly.

Caffe BaoNecciAt a little after 6:30, the lights went down, the film began, and the culinary delights started coming. First was a delicious bruschetta, followed by a tasty frittata (Italian quiche), both served family-style on a tray in the middle of each table. These both disappeared quickly, to be followed by subtle but flavorful black-eyed pea soup with lentils.

Next came a tasty Chicken Saltimbocca – Mark’s favorite dish of the night – served with a delicious side of vegetables.

Finally, as the movie wound down, we were given a special (if sticky) treat – a chocolate pizza… decadent chocolate sauce spread over a crispy, thin pizza crust.

If I had any regrets about the menu, it’s that we didn’t have a chance to try the regular pizza, which we hear is really good. Something to look forward to next time.

The whole Gambaccini family made us feel welcome, answering our questions and lingering after the film to speak with us. I had a chance to speak with Walter about attitudes in Italy toward the gay community – even 10 or 20 years ago, gays and lesbians were all but invisible in the country, but now more and more are coming out and finding acceptance.

If you’re looking for a little authentic Italy in North Beach, get over to Caffe Baonecci – they’re open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, and lunch Tuesday through Sunday starting at noon. For more information about the restaurant and their Thursday movie nights, check their website here. ¬†As of this writing, the movie nights are $30 per person.

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Touring San Francisco’s Painted Ladies | Purple Roofs Travel Blog - Gravatar Touring San Francisco’s Painted Ladies | Purple Roofs Travel Blog said on April 17, 2011, 6:14 pm:

[…] we mentioned in our blog about the fabulous Caffe BaoNecci, we took a one-day trip down to San Francisco this last week. While we were there, we took a great […]

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