Tag Archives: San Francisco

Zucchero’s Black Cat Live Tour

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Last night I got the chance, once more, to see Zucchero live in San Francisco! This time he was performing at the iconic Palace of Fine Arts! The setting was great, with the most comfortable seats ever! We got to enjoy them when we weren’t standing up to dance and move to the great beats! We were in the 3rd row, with a great view!

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Zucchero put on a great performance – I’m always amazed at the stamina these performers have! He played straight for about 2 1/2 hours, never taking a break! His band was great, too! He had players from Italy as well as from the USA and they were incredible musicians! There was a sultry violinist that played front and center and she was definitely a show stopper!

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He began the concert with some of the songs from his new album, Black Cat. The songs were good but I have to say that, sadly, they weren’t my favorites. After introducing these new songs, the rest of the night was spent playing lots of his other songs, which were amazing. He played the guitar on many of them, with his mesmerizing voice booming all the while! One of my favorite pieces was Miserere – they piped in Luciano Pavarotti’s voice from the original duet they had performed many years ago, along with the music video from that performance. This was simply stunning! Zucchero singing live while Pavarotti’s voice boomed from the recording! You can only imagine the emotion!

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Zucchero spoke to us in his excellent English, even though he claims it’s not very good! He loves San Francisco and it shows! And it seems that San Francisco loves him right back! I saw so many of my Italian friends there – friends from my childhood that I haven’t seen in ages! The Italian community in San Francisco is timeless and seeing these special people is always a priceless treasure!

 

Help Me Get to Italy Quicker!!

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I was so excited to see this petition floating around the internet to bring back the direct flight from San Francisco to Italy!

Petition for SFO – Italy Non-Stop Flights (click to sign)

It used to be so convenient, but after the disaster called 9/11, this flight was discontinued. I’m not really sure why this tragedy affected this particular flight, but, sadly, it did and we, in Northern California, now have to make pit stops along the way to get to Italy. This results in us arriving tired and cranky in Il Bel Paese!
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Now, no one really wants to see that, right? So help me, and all the rest of us Northern California weary travelers, get to Italy fresh and ready to go! FYI – this also goes for those Italians traveling to see us here in San Francisco! Our beautiful City by the Bay is waiting for you!

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Standing in line at Molinari Italian delicatessen in San Francisco’s North Beach district, I heard this beautiful song. Not knowing who it was or what song it was, I used Shazam on my iphone to see if it could identify the artist and song. To my amazement, it picked it up and spitted out this good looking artist’s name and song title: Gianluca Grignani and “La Mia Storia tra le Ditte”!

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I immediately downloaded it and added it to my repertoire of Italian music. I am so glad that I found out about this artist, as I find his songs great to listen to. It is just the perfect mix of rock and pop that I enjoy.

Sai penso che
non sia stato inutile
stare insieme a te.
Ok te ne vai
decisione discutibile
ma si, lo so, lo sai.
Almeno resta qui per questa sera
ma no che non ci provo stai sicura.
Può darsi già mi senta troppo solo
perche’ conosco quel sorriso
di chi ha già deciso.
Quel sorriso già una volta
mi ha aperto il paradiso.

Si dice che
per ogni uomo
c’é un’altra come te.
E al posto mio quindi
tu troverai qualcun’altro
uguale no non credo io.
Ma questa volta abbassi gli occhi e dici
noi resteremo sempre buoni amici,
ma quali buoni amici maledetti.
Io un amico lo perdono
mentre a te ti amo.
Può sembrarti anche banale
ma é un istinto naturale.

Ma c’é una cosa che
io non ti ho detto mai.
I miei problemi senza di te
si chiaman guai.
Ed é per questo
che mi vedi fare il duro
in mezzo al mondo
per sentirmi più sicuro.

E se davvero non vuoi dirmi
che ho sbagliato.
Ricorda a volte un uomo
va anche perdonato.
Ed invece tu,
tu non mi lasci via d’uscita.
E te ne vai con la mia storia fra le dita.

Ora che fai,
Cerchi una scusa
se vuoi andare vai.
Tanto di me
non ti devi preoccupare
me la saprò cavare.
Stasera scriverò una canzone
per soffocare dentro un’esplosione.
Senza pensare troppo alle parole
parlerò di quel sorriso
di chi ha già deciso
Quel sorriso che una volta
mi ha aperto il paradiso.

Ma c’é una cosa che
io non ti ho detto mai.
I miei problemi senza di te
si chiaman guai.
Ed é per questo
che mi vedi fare il duro
in mezzo al mondo
per sentirmi più sicuro.

E se davvero non vuoi dirmi
che ho sbagliato.
Ricorda a volte un uomo
va anche perdonato.
Ed invece tu,
tu non mi lasci via d’uscita.
E te ne vai con la mia storia fra le dita.

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You know, I don’t think
  it’s been useless
  being with you.
  Ok you go
  questionable decision
  but yeah, I know, you know.
  At least stay here for tonight
  but no, I won’t try.  You’re safe.
  Maybe I already feel too lonely
  because I know that smile
  of one who has already decided.
  That smile that once 
  opened paradise.

It is said that
  for every man
  there is another like you.
  And in my place
  you’ll find someone else
  The same? No, I do not think so.
  But this time, lower your eyes and say,
  we will always remain good friends,
  but what kind of cursed friend?
  I will forgive a friend 
  but you, I love.
  It may seem too trivial
  but it is a natural instinct.

But there is one thing that
  I have never told you.
  My problems without you
  they call themselves trouble.
  And it is for this
  you see me being hard
 for  in the middle of the world
 it helps me feel more secure.

And if you really do not want to tell me
  I was wrong.
  Remember, sometimes a man
  should also be forgiven.
  And instead you,
  you do not let me escape.
  And you just go with my story between your fingers.

Now what are you doing?
  Look for an excuse
  if you want to go.
  About me,
  you do not need to worry
  I will know how to handle it.
  Tonight I will write a song
  to drown the explosion inside of me.
  Without thinking too much about the words
  I’ll talk about that smile
  of she who has already decided.
  That smile that once
  opened paradise.

But there is one thing that
  I have never told you.
  My problems without you
  they call themselves trouble.
  And it is for this
  you see me being hard
for in the middle of the world
it helps me feel more secure.

And if you really do not want to tell me
  I was wrong.
  Remember, sometimes a man
  should also be forgiven.
  And instead you,
  you do not let me escape.
  And you just go with my story between your fingers.

A Beautiful Song by a Beautiful Artist

Christmas Traditions Old and New

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It’s that time, once again, for the nostalgic thoughts that this Christmas season brings to  mind.  I am reminded of so many Christmas traditions which I grew up with, but also new ones that I have now made into traditions.  It seems that every generation adds something new to their Christmas.

Here are some old Italian traditions passed down from my parents:

My presepe (the Creche):

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Panettone – the traditional Italian Christmas bread which is enjoyed with a cup of coffee or even better, with a glass of Asti Spumante or Champagne:

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And, of course, the Christmas tree and all the house decorations:

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A new tradition that makes up our family’s Christmas is spending a night in San Francisco to take in the vibrant Holiday scene and decorations.

Union Square - San Francisco

Union Square – San Francisco

The Hyatt Regency - San Francisco

The Hyatt Regency – San Francisco

The Palace Hotel - San Francisco

The Palace Hotel – San Francisco

Another of the new traditions that I have made my own is the formal Christmas Eve dinner.  As a child, we always celebrated Christmas Day and never Christmas Eve.  This made for a very busy Christmas Day:  present opening in the morning, rushing off to Mass, and then going to my aunt’s house for the big dinner.  This is how it was done in Northern Italy where my family is from and so they carried on the tradition when they came here. But when I got married, my husband’s family always celebrated Christmas Eve with a formal dinner followed by Midnight Mass.  I loved this tradition and so have made it my own.  I love the look of the elegant table lit by candles and with the glow of the Christmas tree in the background.  As families come together from different backgrounds, the best of the best becomes part of the Christmas traditions to be passed down to the next generation.  I’ll be anxious to see what becomes their new Christmas traditons!

Buon Natale, my dear readers, and may this Holiday season bring you all the magic of Christmas!

San Francisco’s BEST Pizza!

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This past weekend, we ventured out to San Francisco’s Italian neighborhood, North Beach and stumbled upon an old landmark famous for it’s wood fired pizzas!  I can’t believe that I missed this one – it’s been around since 1935!  Growing up in San Francisco, frequenting North Beach ALL the time, and thinking I knew all the Italian restaurants in the vicinity of my own father’s Italian restaurant – it eluded me, somehow!  Maybe because it is actually below street level?  Maybe because it has a small little sign?  Maybe because it is on a side street?  Who knows…but, WOW, am I glad I found it!  Better late than never, right?

Tomasso’s has been a San Francisco landmark since 1935 when it was started by a family from Naples who wanted to share their pizza with the world!  Back then, pizza was not a popular food item – in fact, even in the rest of Italy, they didn’t eat it.  Believe it or not, it wasn’t until my parents immigrated to the United States from Northern Italy that they tasted their first pizza.  Pizza was unique to Naples, and because of World War II it became popular once the GI’s tried it!!  Anyway, this little family from Naples built a wood fire oven and baked their pizzas in the old fashioned way like they did in the Old Country.  Back then Tomasso’s was called Lupo’s, and didn’t change it’s name until 1971 when the new owner, Tommy Chin, took it over.  Tommy had been a cook with the family for over 30 years and when the original family wanted to retire, he bought the place.  He created the same pizzas with the same recipes in the same oven!  Two years later, he sold it to another Italian immigrant family and they have owned it ever since.  It is a family run affair, with all the members of the family chipping in and working.  The walls are frescoed by local artists who painted in exchange for pizzas and pasta! 

The restaurant is chaotic – it is loud – but it is a BLAST.  They don’t take reservations, so be prepared for a REALLY long wait while waiting for a table to open up.  Most of the tables are family style – so you make friends with your neighbors!  The waiters run around you….the food comes out quickly….it is frenetic….but you will eat the BEST pizza you have ever had.  The range of toppings is extensive and the ingredients are always fresh.  The restaurant has a full menu, but since I didn’t eat anything else, I cannot either praise it or boo-hoo it. 

Illuminazione….

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There is nothing more magical than being transported into a Christmas wonderland resplendent with illuminations!  Dark spaces lit up with the brilliant glow of twinkling lights instantly puts me in that Christmas mood.

A few years ago, we spent Capo d’Anno (New Year’s) in Milan and were treated to the beautiful Swarovski crystal light display in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.  The bright blue lights shimmered up in the dome of the Galleria and they could be seen from outside the entrata (entrance), leading you in with the anticipation of a wondrous delight.  

It was a beautiful display, only to be outdone, I think, by this year’s  very special exhibition called “Una Amore di Citta`”.  A spiral of pulsating cuori (hearts) in Swarovski’s signature design will cascade from the dome of the Galleria from Dec. 4th until Jan. 6th. 

 Sadly, I will only be able to enjoy this spettacolo (spectacle) via internet, but….

San Francisco has it’s own magical twinkling displays.  They may not be of Swarovski crystals, but they are, nonetheless, just as meravigliosi (marvelous)!  I was mesmerized by their bellezza (beauty) this last weekend while visiting the City for its Christmas magia (magic).  The lobby of the modern Hyatt Regency Hotel at the Embarcadero was decorated in a cascata (cascade) of tiny white lights which fell from the top floor.  It was as if being in the midst of the cieli (heavens), with all the stelle (stars) shining all around me. 

If you have seen any magical Christmas light displays, please share them with me!

E` Tutto Qua

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It’s all here….a perfect name for a perfect restaurant!  On the sort of sketchy corner of Columbus and Broadway, at the end of San Francisco’s North Beach, is one of the best Italian restaurants I have ever been to.  The neighborhood used to house all the strip clubs…but in recent years, the strip clubs have gone and have been replaced with sports bars and restaurants.  There are still a few remnant ones which make for an interesting stroll up and down the street (and also people watching opportunities!)

E` Tutto Qua was born three years ago by the same owner that began North Beach’s  Steps of Rome about 20 years ago.  He sold Steps of Rome, moved back to Italy for awhile, and then came back.  According to him, this new restaurant was just “handed to him” because it had been the location of several failed businesses.  He took it on, changed the name, and created a sensational place.  The food is so authentic that you would literally feel like you are back in Italy.  The ingredients are fresh, the pasta is homemade, the pizzas have thin crusts (just like Italy), and the sauces and entrees are all created with much care.  If you are looking for Pasta Alfredo, you will have to look elsewhere!!  The gnocchi is just like Nonna makes (and that is a very hard act to follow!) The waiters are mostly all Italian (and recent transplants at that) and will delightfully carry on conversations in Italian with anyone that shows some interest.  It is so nice to see so many young Italians making San Francisco their new home. 

The restaurant is modernly decorated – there are no gawdy Italian statues or paintings on the wall.  Don’t get me wrong – sometimes I like Italian gawd!  It adds its own character and charm to restaurants.  But, in the case of E` Tutto Qua, the ambience has its own understated charm.  The many windows give it a vibrancy and life that is electric.  You feel like you are a part of all the action that North Beach offers in the evenings!  There is an upstairs dining balcony, as well,  for larger parties which is a bit more quiet, but which still allows you to  feel a part of the restaurant because it isn’t totally closed off. 

We will surely be returning to E` Tutto Qua for many more dinners and special events.