We’ve been to North beach in San Francisco a number of times, but I always complain about how it’s only restaurants and coffee shops – no other real parts of Italian culture seem to be represented.
Well, that’s changed, and for the better. If you’re an Italianofile like Mark and I, there’s now an Italian bookstore in the heart of North beach, chock-full of Italian language books.
So we thought we’d share some tips for a perfect Italian afternoon in North Beach.
Start at Libreria Pino
In Italian, libreria means bookstore, while biblioteca means library. I know, confusing, right? This little bookstore on Greenwich Street, just a block east of Washington Square Park, is worth seeing. It’s only Italian language titles, making it perfect for both native speakers and those of us who are studying the Italian language.
Stop in about noon and browse the titles – there are so many to choose form, including a comprehensive children’s section at the back, and the owner, Joseph Carboni, is friendly and can help you zero in on the perfect book.
Lunch at Acquolina
This cute little Italian restaurant faces Washington Square Park at Greenwich and Stockton, which most times is a big plus, but which was sadly more of a negative since there’s currently a big fence all around the park while it undergoes a renovation/rehabilitation. Still, it’s a cute little place.
The food here is fantastic – we had a salad with green apples and balsamic and a simple pepperoni pizza, and they were amazing, which makes sense, since acquolina means “mouth-watering.”
But the best part was our waiter, Marco, a recent transplant from Italy – I called him a twenty-five-year-old with a forty-five-year-old’s mustache (see the first photo above). He’s a cute, friendly guy who was more than willing to speak Italian with us, and he made the meal.
Dessert at Lush Gelato
Top off your perfect Italian Afternoon just a block down Stockton at Lush Gelato – I had a cinnamon chocolate scoop of gelato there that was devine. Eat there, or take your gelato trean – an afternoon snack in Italy is called a merenda – and stroll through North Beach on a passeggiata (casual stroll) like a real Italian.