Sitting quietly on the corner of Stockton and Filbert in San Fran's predominantly Italian North Beach district lies one of the city's oldest bakeries specializing in focaccia, Liguria Bakery.
Just one block north of Tony's Pizza Napoletana, Liguria disguises itself as what most unaware passerby would consider to be a vacant storefront. On the contrary, this place hasn't been occupied by anyone but the Soracco family since 1911. For those inept at mathematics, that's 99 years!
After the infamous San Francisco earthquake of 1906, a man named Ambrosio Saracco immigrated from Genoa, Italy and shortly thereafter bought and opened Liguria Bakery in 1911. He sent for his brothers back home to follow in his footsteps, and in no time had a full-fledged bakery on his hands. After being opened just shy of a century, I can't believe how much the place has changed-
...or hasn't changed. I wish I had a wider shot here, but essentially the place is exactly the same save for a coat of white paint. Michael Soracco, Ambrosio's grandson, is the current owner of Liguria, and still employs his family to hawk their famous focaccia.
WOW. Look at the size of this monstrosity of an oven. It's bigger than your average New York apartment! Notice the extremely long peels hanging from the ceiling to give you some sense of scale. Check that nozzle-looking thing out on the right edge of the even. It's a goddamn flamethrower!
I didn't make it to Liguria in time to catch them baking, but essentially this flame gun is on a swivel that is pulled over to the mouth of the oven, where it blasts 800 degree heat into the chamber for an extended period of time. Just before the bread is popped in, the flame is killed and moved off to the side.
I love this packaging. When I left my hotel at 10:30 AM I hightailed it in my zipcar over to Liguria- they say they're open until 12, but more realistically they close when they sell out of focaccia. And they always sell out of focaccia. Just to be safe, I called ahead and told them my predicament, and pleaded with them to save me something. "All we got left is raisin and pizza, whichya want?" She clearly didn't know who she was speaking to.
If only I had put my hand in the shot to display just how massive this thing is. No, this isn't a slice, this is about half the size of a traditional Sicilian-style pizza (!!!)
Eating this gave me the feeling I was eating San Fran's incarnation of a Trenton tomato pie since it was served at room temperature. The sauce was just sweet enough that no cheese was need.
I ripped this thing apart, I wish I had some right now. It's so great to see a true mom and pop place thriving in the same fashion it did when it opened a hundred years ago.