Fisherman's Wharf; SF’s Culinary History: Part 4 of 12

Italian Specialty

The end of the line for the famous Powell & Hyde Street cable car leads directly to the gateway of Fisherman's Wharf. Strolling down Jefferson Street, the Wharf’s main drag, is a feast for the eyes as one savors the continuous string of street-side seafood vendors. With all the aromas and fresh seafood displayed within arm’s reach, it's hard to resist trying something. Grabbing a cup of chowder, cracked crab, or seafood cocktail and sitting along the docks to enjoy is really a must -- especially if you're in town between November and June, when West Coast Dungeness crab is in season. 

Traditional Italian and seafood restaurants are primarily what you'll find at the Wharf, as this is where many of the first Italian immigrants found their trade upon moving here. In 1916, Thomaso Castagnola established “Castagnola's” along Jefferson Street. Prior to opening his restaurant, the business started as a street-side operation selling fresh crab and crab cocktails. Castagnola soon set the trend for other neighborhood fisherman to follow the concept. 

The famous Alioto family, recognized for their role in local politics (particularly Joe Alioto, a former San Francisco Mayor), opened their seafood stand on Taylor Street in 1925. Some years after, they added their landmark Sicilian seafood restaurant, Alioto's #8 (the ”#8” represents the dock/pier number where the establishment is located). Often referenced as one of the oldest restaurants in the city, Alioto's is known for its local seafood and its family recipe for Cioppino. 

Sabella & LaTorre on Taylor, has been around since 1927. Known for their whole cracked crab, they are considered one of the best moderately priced family-owned seafood grotto's in the Wharf. 

Sicilian fisherman Mike Geraldi founded Fishermen's Grotto #9 in 1935. As the first sit-down restaurant in the Wharf, the establishment has attracted presidents, athletes, and celebrities worldwide. 

Since 1946, Tarantino's on Jefferson Street has maintained its reputation for culinary excellence, particularly among locals. Tarantino's started as a sidewalk cafe and later opened an upstairs fine dining establishment known  for their creative entrees and refined presentations.

Scoma's is a hidden gem on the waterfront of Pier 47, and is another local favorite. It's one of the few places in the Wharf where you go behind the scenes, walking along an industrial fishing pier, to arrive at your dining destination. Scoma's was founded by brothers Al and Joe Scoma in 1965. They started their business as a coffee shop for fishermen, but once they introduced some of their mother's recipes to the menu, they had to make some quick changes to keep up with their increased patronage. In the years  since, Scoma's has received many accolades from national and international press sources; Newsweek Magazine recognized them for having one of the best clam chowder recipes in the country. 

 

San Francisco's Culinary History: Part 1 of 12

The Iconic Foods of San Francisco; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 2 of 12

Culinary Institutions; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 3 of 12

Fisherman's Wharf; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 4 of 12

North Beach; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 5 of 12

The Mission; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 6 of 12

Nostalgia; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 7 of 12

The Creme de la Crème; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 8 of 12

Asian Influence; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 9 of 12

The Veggie Scene; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 10 of 12

Ice Cream Goodness; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 11 of 12

Food Forward; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 12 of 12

 

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