Join Gianni for a Culinary Tour of Emilia-Romagna

Bologna Produce Stall

The crowds have thinned and the September weather is glorious. The markets overflow. It’s one of my favorite seasons to visit Italia.

It’s a fine time to settle into the region of Emilia-Romagna the culinary heart of Italia. Prosciutto and parmigiano come from Parma and Reggio. Balsamic vinegar has been made in Modena for centuries. Bologna’s fabulous food has earned it the nickname “La Grassa” (The Fat One).

Join me for a fabulous 8-day culinary tour September 23-30, 2012. We’ll pick you up at the Bologna airport and then take care of all the details so that you can just enjoy your culinary adventure in Italia. We start on the Adriatic coast and make our way to Bologna at a leisurely pace.

  • Learn pasta-making from a real Sfoglina, a dying breed of dedicated pasta wizards
  • Hunt wild mushrooms in the Apennine foothills
  • Explore medieval villages and lesser-known food markets
  • Taste parmigiano reggiano, prosciutto di parma and balsamic vinegar where they’re made
  • Join home cooks and chefs for cooking demonstrations and hands-on classes featuring classic Emilia-Romagna dishes
  • Savor the food at unique and inspired restaurants

My travel partner Vanessa DellaPasqua of Global Epicurean and I will be your hosts and your guides. Join us for a journey that will heighten your appreciation and deepen your understanding of Italy’s food culture. You’ll meet a bunch of wonderful Italians too. They’ll share their culinary wisdom and kitchen secrets with you.

Get all of the Emilia-Romagna culinary adventure details. The tour is limited to 24 people. It will be like family.

North Beach Italian Restaurant List

Two of Many Green Street Restaurants

I found a Yelp list of North Beach Italian restaurants listed 1 to 50. Actually there aren’t 50 places. Some are listed more than once and a couple have closed. Before you get to the list and all of the comments I can’t help adding my updates and observations about North Beach restaurants with links to a few recent posts. I even threw in recipes from 2 of my favorite restaurants on the list.

La Felce is closed. It’s now Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. Pulcinella closed but Tony will soon launch Capos featuring Chicago deep-dish pizza in that space. A total renovation down to the studs is moving at a rapid pace. Large black and white photos of infamous Chicagoans like Al Capone and an Art Deco bar with a vintage cash register from Chicago are part of new interior mix. Then there’s that mural found behind a wall during the renovation. The oil on canvas mural that captures Vallejo Street in all its 50s glory will be re-installed. I can’t wait to see the new space and eat a deep-dish pizza.

The list includes some of my favorite places like BaoNecci and da Flora where I hosted private dinners. da Flora’s chef Jen McMahon shared her arancini recipe with us. A star at the Tuscan dinner at BaoNecci was Stefania’s Ribollita vegetable soup. I was able to coax the recipe out of her after the dinner.

Ten on the list are included in my North Beach walking tour. Sotto Mare is one of them. I’ll tell you what I think of the others too and let you know my favorite North Beach places for souffles, cheeseburgers, fried chicken, po’boys and more.

North Beach is on fire. A new place just opened last weekend. Don’t miss out. Visit our Village soon. I’m sure you’ll find a good place to eat. Here’s the Yelp list of North Beach Italian restaurants.

North Beach 2012 – A New Dawn

Gianni guiding his first tour
Gianni Leading a North Beach Tour

As 2011 comes to a close North Beach is healthy and on the verge of a new dawn.

New restaurants, shops and galleries brought more visitors to the Village and more choices for me and my neighbors. The evening Holiday Boutique Crawl featuring 26 unique North Beach shops and galleries last month was enjoyed by well over a thousand shoppers! Every day visitors and neighbors fill the caffes, restaurants, markets and art galleries. North Beach’s pulse is strong.

Washington Square is booming. Park Tavern in the old Moose’s space on the east side of the Square draws big crowds and is a fun place to have dinner. Bottle Cap on the other side of Columbus offers comfort food in the old Washington Bar and Grill space. Original Joe’s will open in January with lots of outdoor seating facing the Square.

Not all went well. The Neapolitan pizzeria Pulcinella on Vallejo closed but we were able to save the heavily damaged mural “Song of Pulcinella” by Vranas. After a successful restoration we’re looking for a place to display this beautiful view of the Bay of Naples. I miss Pulcinella, the only Neapolitan restaurant in the Village. Here’s a taste of the food and culture that Pulcinella represents now gone from North Beach. The new Pakastani/Indian place Maza on Union couldn’t get a footing and closed earlier this month.

I predict that 2012 will be the year that North Beach is back, updated but stronger than it has been in 60 years. The traditional roots of the neighborhood, Italian food, a vibrant artist community, and great shopping, grew deeper. New arrivals broadened the Village’s appeal. Two stretches of the neighborhood hold the key.

I have my eye on Vallejo Street. Tony Gemignani of Tony’s Pizza will open Capos featuring deep-dish pizza and his pizza school in the Pulcinella space. An oil on canvas mural that captures Vallejo in all its glory in the 50s will be re-installed. (The rolled up mural was found stashed behind a wall during remodeling.) Victoria Pastry on the corner will move to Filbert near Washington Square. Italian-French Bakery now on Upper Grant will move in. Geppetto the new Italian deli (salumeria) will open in January. Vallejo between Columbus and Grant will be transformed into the Poet’s Piazza anchored by the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi and Caffe Trieste. I truly hope Italian-French will be re-born as a great artisan bread bakery. North Beach needs one.

Upper Grant is on fire. Park and Pond opened featuring the work of local artisans. 1814 a few doors away showcases great t-shirts and hoodies by local artists. Al’s Attire moved into a great retro space for his custom clothes and shoes. Tupelo, a new watering-hole, serves southern comfort food. The new Little Vine is an old-fashioned market with a great selection of cheeses, cured meats and carefully selected food products. Emerald Tablet will blossom in 2012 into a fantastic gathering space for artist workshops and other salon events. There are a couple of stores to be had and lots of opportunity for the right business. And it looks like the old North Beach Pizza space is being updated so maybe that long-vacant spot will be scooped up soon.

You can follow it all on Gianni’s North Beach 2.0. My producer Jeff Diehl and I will launch our new website in January. You’ll easily access my Village reports, all of my cooking demonstrations and blog recipes, upcoming private events and soon to be announced culinary tours in Italia on our cool new site. First up on the re-designed site are two new cooking demonstration episodes that you will love.

Felice Anno Nuovo! Buon Anno! Happy New Year! See you in 2012.

25% Off North Beach Walking Tour This Saturday

Gianni stops walking to do some talking
Gianni stops walking to do some talking

If you’re in San Francisco this weekend, come spend 90 minutes with me. I’m excited to be guiding another walking tour through North Beach – always an opportunity for meeting great folks. I’ll tell you all about my Italian village, its history, its food, its characters.

And, you’ll sample some of my favorite pizza!

If you want to discover the hidden North Beach, join me this Saturday. Enter promo code “walker” to get 25% off. The tour is limited to 15 walkers. RSVP early:

Saturday, Jan. 29th walking tour of North Beach, 2pm
Saturday, Jan. 29th walking tour of North Beach, 2pm
Gianni walks you through the heart of North Beach, and feeds you some authentic Italian-style pizza. Purchases are processed through “Hungry Village,” our parent company. This is what PayPal will display.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook for announcements of future events.

Pizza & History

Gianni stops walking to do some talking
Gianni stops walking to do some talking
Gianni stops walking to do some talking

The first North Beach walking tour on January 8th was a great success. I had a lot of fun, and the feedback was extremely positive.

So we’re doing it again this Saturday, January 15th, at 2pm. You can buy tickets via PayPal below.

We had a healthy mix of folks last Saturday, from out-of-towners, to recent transplants, to SF natives. I enjoyed sharing my knowledge of San Francisco’s culinary capital, both current and historical.

Plus, folks really enjoyed the pizza!

If you want to discover the hidden North Beach, join me this Saturday. The tour is limited to 15 walkers. RSVP early:

Saturday, Jan. 15th walking tour of North Beach, 2pm
Saturday, Jan. 15th walking tour of North Beach, 2pm
Gianni walks you through the heart of North Beach, and feeds you some authentic Italian-style pizza. Purchases are processed through “Hungry Village,” our parent company. This is what PayPal will display.
Price: $12.95

Experiencing Roma

Rome Forum

Rome Forum

I Love Rome.

Probably getting close to 20 times I’ve been. Bernini’s sculpture, Michelangelo everywhere, Baroque over the top, beautiful people, the Caravaggio triptych in San Liuigi dei Francesi church, the wonderful food and romantic outdoor meals, Santa Maria in Trestevere, potato pizza with rosemary a taglio (by the slice) from the ladies in cardboard hats, the farmer’s market at Campo Fiore, the Jewish ghetto and flattened fried artichokes and baccala to die for.

A friend of mine, Personal Chef Tom Herndon, saw one of my recent episodes and shared memories of a couple of days together when our paths crossed in Roma…

We were lucky to be able to meet John in Rome a couple of years ago. We had the insider’s tour. He took us to the oldest church in Rome and then to the Jewish Ghetto for some incredible food, including an impressive deep fried artichoke. He took the entire group of 14 to a lovely cafe in a small square where we ate al fresco, including these bread ‘puff balls’ as big as a football! Then he showed us the best place to get gelato and chocolate bundino.

He’s a true gourmand and a man of passion about Italy. Our time in Rome was truly memorable.

We did have fun together! I love to gather groups and travel to Italy. We rent apartments so that we can get into the local pace of life and do some of our own cooking wherever we are.

Have you ever gone on a food adventure to Italy? If so, please tell me about it in the comments!