Located halfway between Cafe Zoetrope and Tony's Pizza Napoletana in North Beach, San Fran, is the west coast's oldest brick oven pizzeria, Tommaso's.
Built in 1935 by the Cantolupo family from Naples (where else?), they aptly named the place Lupo's and started firing pies in their oven. The pizzeria became increasingly popular after G.I.'s returned from Italy after WWII having had pizza overseas, and quickly rose to Bay Area fame amongst city eaters.
A plaque adorns the front of the restaurant, just in case you thought I was making this shit up. I wish I could find the picture to prove it, but local resident Francis Ford Coppola used to frequent Lupo's, and on special occasions would take over making pizzas. I'm not making that shit up either.
In '71, the Cantolupo family sold the joint to one of their loyal employees, Tommy Chin, who had been working at Lupo's since the year after they opened back in the day. Mr. Chin decided to rename the place after himself, that is, if he were a Neapolitan. Thus, Lupo's became Tommaso's.
Chin sold the place several years later to the current owners, the Crotti's, one of whom was my server. When I say the place is family owned and operated, I mean it. I love that in a pizzeria.
I ordered a half plain/half meatball. Odd topping I know, but it was pretty tasty. The place is notoriously dimly lit, so please forgive the poor exposure on these photos.
I'd be lying if I said the pizza at Tommaso's was incredible, but it sure ain't bad. It's slightly thicker than your average NY-style pie; it kind of reminded me of Pizzeria Regina in Boston.
Would I go back? Absolutely. The pizza was tasty, and the place has soul. I'm a pretty happy, easy-going guy, but nothing gets me down like a pizzeria with no soul. When I stepped back out into the bright sunlight, I had to round out my documentation of both Tommaso's and San Francisco in general in an east-meets-west fashion, representing my favorite soulful Brooklyn pizzeria.
Bridging the gap. Cheers!