Poetry and pizza: an afternoon in North Beach

With so many nooks and crannies to explore and more delis, coffee shops, restaurants and bars then you can count, North Beach is one of those neighborhoods where I could happily come for breakfast and stay for dinner. My goal had been to check out the City Lights Bookstore but once I was in the area I couldn’t stop myself from going down just one more alley and turning just one more corner.

North Beach is San Francisco’s Little Italy so of course it was only a matter of time before I gave in to the divine smells that kept wafting by and got myself a slice of pizza and then … well I had to get a scoop of gelato too because … you know … research for the blog.

For the pizza I went with Pizzelle di North Beach, mostly based on the fact it wasn’t that busy and I wasn’t in the mood to stand in line. I ordered my go-to slice of veggie. No hot sauce in sight so I had to make do with chili flakes. It was truly delicious – a very pleasant surprise. Pesto-based sauce vs. tomato which I usually would never choose and actually didn’t notice when I was ordering or I might have gone with something different. While I couldn’t really see into the kitchen so I don’t know if they have a traditional wood-burning pizza oven, it certainly tasted like it. The crust had that wonderful smoky flavor and athough I could happily have kept eating, the slice was a generous size and one was really all I needed (this time!).

More exploring led me to Caffè Trieste which is known for being, among other things, the site where much of The Godfather screenplay was written. The more I read about San Francisco the more I find myself stumbling across these historical gems when I’m out and about. This city has so many stories to tell.

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After my unplanned pizza break I decided to turn this into a mini-foodie expedition and, in keeping with the Italian theme, go in search of gelato. A number of coffee shops and bakeries sell gelato but you need to keep your eye out because it’s not always obvious as you walk by. I went with a scoop of hazelnut from Mara’s Italian Pastry and, even though my expectations were now raised, it did not disappoint.

I happily wandered home in the rain and I swear the spoonfuls of gelato along the way made all those hills easier to walk up. I’ll have to try this again soon to see if my theory holds true.

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