Tosca Cafe, the historic Italian-American restaurant and bar in North Beach, is reopening this weekend. The latest repolishing of this classic spot has been anticipated for more than a year, ever since the powerhouse trio of chef Nancy Oakes (Boulevard), restaurateur Anna Weinburg (Marlowe), and designer Ken Fulk took the keys last year. Despite setbacks — like the city shutting down dining rooms this weekend — it’s finally happening: The 101-year-old restaurant is back, and the Tuscan fried chicken, shaved truffle pasta, and cappuccino cocktails just might cut through the winter fog.
The opening menu is short and sweet, offering three set courses for $75, with options to add on from the raw bar. The antipasti includes meatballs in spicy tomato sauce, the pasta is lumache drenched in butter and showered with shaved truffles, and the mains star a Tuscan fried chicken with bitter chicories in anchovy vinaigrette. Wine expert Shelley Lindgren (A16) has signed on to pick the perfect Cal-Italian pairings, and the cocktails include a negroni and a cappuccino. Check out the full menu, below.
Needless to say, all that will be served outdoors. It’s a particularly cruel twist of timing to open a treasured restaurant the exact day the city shuts down indoor dining, meaning that whatever magic Ken Fulk has done — or has yet to do — to the interiors must remain to be seen.
At the iconic crossroads of Broadway and Columbus, Tosca is more than a century old, dating back to the Barbary Coast; longtime fans love the warm wooden bar and leather booths as much as the chicken. But it’s had a rough last few years: Previous owner Ken Friedman was ousted for sexual misconduct in 2018, turning operations over to partner April Bloomfield, who shuttered the restaurant in 2019. Locals rejoiced when Oakes, Weinberg, and Fulk took over later that year.
The trio have made two attempts to open the restaurant: once with takeout, and again as a short-lived pop-up at Saint Joseph’s in SoMa. But now, finally, they’re open for outdoor dining in their own home — or out front, putting in three covered and heated parklets on Columbus. Starting with only 28 seats and 2 seatings a night, those first reservations may go fast, with first priority going to guests who signed up at the pop-up.
For those up for braving the dipping temperatures, heat lamps willing, it could be a cozy setup. And of course, North Beach has always been known for al fresco awnings and tables that run up Columbus and around Washington Square. Hopefully, the new team can finally settle into this old home. Stay tuned for more updates.
Tosca Cafe is now open for outdoor dining Wednesday through Sunday, starting at 5:30 p.m. Reservations are available on Tock starting tomorrow, Saturday, November 14.