Sitting boldly on the cusp of San Francisco's Little Italy (North Beach), Financial District and Chinatown rises Columbus Tower, a gorgeous aged copper edifice circa 1907 designed in a similar vein to New York's Flatiron building. Within these green-tinged walls lies a landmark to two things I hold dear: pizza and movies.
Aside from being one of the coolest-looking buildings in the greater San Fran area, this place is also the original headquarters of American Zoetrope, the independent film company founded by the godfather of filmmaking himself, Francis Ford Coppola. Ever heard of Apocalypse Now? How about the Godfather trilogy or The Conversation? Yeah, the picture editing and soundtrack recording were all done right here.
If you're familiar with FFC then you know he's a wine maker as well (too bad he's not a home brewer, but that's still pretty sick). Being the revolutionary entrepreneur that he is, Francis opened Cafe Zoetrope ten years ago as a venue for his wine tastings, as well as a place to exhibit his line of food products and style of Italian home cooking.
The place is lined with some of the coolest photos and memorabilia from his films. I was told I could take pictures of the pizza, but not pictures of the pictures... okay then. Just imagine this as a Francis Ford Coppola/Godfather museum- I was humbled as a filmmaker, to say the least. In fashion with the myriad pizzerias in San Fran, Zoetrope of course cooks up pies, so I ordered a Margherita w/ mozzarella di bufala while I watched the world cup.
Not too shabby lookin', but upon closer inspection... where the hell is the cheese?
It's on there, just barely. This pizza was definitely cooked in a gas oven, and with such small blobs of cheese used it looked (and tasted) like half of them evaporated.
That being said, the tomato sauce had plenty of juicy sweet flavor. The basil could have used a dousing of olive oil before being tossed in the oven; you can see how dried and shriveled it looks.
Overall Zoetrope's pizza was nothing to write home about (but isn't that what I'm doing?), but I've certainly had worse. Combined with the early afternoon wine, watching the cup, being the only patron in the place, and the awe-inspiring decor, I have no regrets having visited Cafe Zoetrope.