In anteprima su Bologna Connect l’articolo scritto da Mary Tolaro – Noyes, Ambassador dell’Associazione e di prossima uscita sul giornale The Semaphore di San Francisco.
Emilia-Romagna Arrives in North Beach!
The Italian Homemade Company
716 Columbus Avenue (Between Filbert and Greenwich Streets)
San Francisco, California
Open Tuesday—Sunday 8:00AM-8:00PM (Closed Monday)
The Italian Homemade Company opened in North Beach on August 21, 2014 and the authentic piadina romagnola (a flat, unleavened bread made with wheat flour, olive oil, salt and water) is finally here, along with other food specialties from Emilia-Romagna. This north central Italian region includes Parma, Modena, Bologna, Ravenna—and Rimini, the home of the piadina romagnola, and of the young couple who just arrived in our neighborhood. Alice Romagnoli (Ah-lee-chay) and Mattia Cosmi (Ma- tee-ah) fell in love with San Francisco this summer for its beauty and culture. Alice explained, “It is a city with a human dimension, comfortable for living.” They chose North Beach both because it reminded them of home and also because the neighborhood lacked a locale offering fresh handmade pasta, the piadina, and other specialties from Emilia-Romagna. Historically, their new location was once a ravioli factory, which pleases them very much, since one of their missions is to carry on the cultural and food traditions of their Italian heritage. The proprietors are young and creative. They offer authentic Italian Street Food–Italian fast food that is made-to-order in about five minutes, tasty, and healthy.
A sensory experience begins immediately upon walking in the door of The Italian Homemade Company. A huge pot of ragù Bolognese simmers on their stove and the aroma of fresh bread welcomes me, and every customer, as do the friendly smiles of the newly married couple.
The large space has the feel of a big Italian kitchen. To the left of the door, a huge chipped white antique hutch displays common tools of a family’s busy home kitchen: a potato ricer (for the gnocchi) and a rolling pin (for the pasta al mattarello), the only tool they use to make their handmade pasta.
To the right of the door in the back, a steam table and display, an industrial stove and huge grill dominate. However, the most important space is tucked in the right front corner: the Pasta Lab. The magic originates there, where Alice and her assistants create the dough for the fresh pasta and piadina.
A wood plank-eating bar and a few chairs offer customers a place to eat inside. They hope to expand the eat-in possibilities in the near future. Meanwhile, their Italian Street Food menu functions just fine.
This menu includes a variety of made-to-order fresh pasta dishes with a choice of sauce, as well as three baked pasta options, one of which is normally Lasagna with Bolognese Sauce. The signature sandwich begins with the piadina bread, which resembles a tortilla, and is stuffed with a variety of traditional fillings, including, but not limited to, imported meats and cheeses. The bread is cooked on the grill as you wait and the chosen fillings added while it is still warm. The cassone sandwich looks like the traditional Italian calzone. The piadina bread dough is shaped into a circle folded in half over one of a variety of traditional fillings, sealed and then grilled.
Besides the above regional sandwich and pasta selections, vegetable fillings and side dishes are prepared everyday: tomato, pepper, and onion au gratin, grilled seasonal vegetables, and garden-fresh greens and vegetables. Beverages include soft drinks, juices, and bottled water, both sparkling and still.
Fresh pasta and gnocchi and the sauces to compliment them are also available to prepare at home: tagliatelle, pappardelle, potato gnocchi, and meat and/or vegetable ravioli. Some daily surprise pasta specials appear as well, depending on the weather, the fresh ingredients available, and the whim of Alice and Mattia!
A recent conversation with Alice emphasized the couple’s sincerity and intention to participate in the life of our community. When asked, “Why should someone want to eat here?” she answered, “We have done it all ourselves, from the signs to the table, and we are very proud of our work and what we offer. We are young people who respect our traditions and want to share them. We do not use pasta makers, only the rolling pin and the best ingredients, just as I learned from my grandmother Maria in Rimini. As with anything else in life, one must begin with the basics. One must know how to use her hands and all the senses to understand the process and arrive at the wonderful final product. The process takes time to learn, but the results allow her to give something precious to others. That is the goal of our business here: the tradition of authentic Italian Street Food for you in North Beach, and for the visitors who come here.”
As one who has spent considerable time in Bologna and Emilia-Romagna for the last twenty years, I encourage you to check out The Italian Homemade Company. You will not be disappointed.
Mary Tolaro-Noyes, author of Bologna Reflections: An Uncommon Guide and Gathering Chestnuts: Encounters Along the Way. Both books are set in the Emilia Romagna region and are available through Amazon.com and other web bookstores.