After 50 years of decadent plates of melon and prosciutto and elegant service on Stockton Street, North Beach Restaurant will close at the end of December. The Italian restaurant is well-known for its prominent location in the neighborhood and longstanding relationship with the community including hosting numerous politicos over the decades such as Representative Nancy Pelosi, former mayor George Moscone, and fellow former mayor Willie Brown. Now, owner Leo Petroni — son of one of the original founders Lorenzo Petroni — tells the Chronicle a lack of customers and a decline in tourism have caused him to put the restaurant up for sale.
Petroni told the paper that he came to the decision due to a number of factors. His father died in 2014, which was the “end of an era,” and the pandemic didn’t help; it caused the restaurant to close for 18 months before reopening in 2021. There was an attempt to make a landing, though; general manager Maureen Donegan was brought on to lead the restaurant through a menu change and renovations. “We were reopened by September 2021 and then started to get ahead of steam and then omicron came in January,” Donegan told the Chronicle. “And then you get to this year and now we’re fighting this whole image of San Francisco being a place that’s not safe.”
The restaurant is now up for sale with an asking price of $4.5 million for the 6,400-square-foot restaurant and all its assets.
The closing announcement comes amidst what is otherwise considered an inspiring time for the neighborhood. Wine and poetry bar Golden Sardine is set to open in a primer space on Columbus Avenue, and a tremendous new space for Flour+ Water Pizzeria debuted in June 2023. Just last year Cassava opened in a similarly huge space on Columbus Avenue, and the fall before that saw brunch spot Hilda and Jesse take up residence on Union Street. Still, it’s hard to imagine another restaurant can replicate the same energy of the basement-level prosciutto room where handshake deals shaped San Francisco — and national — politics for generations. “I believe this is a great opportunity for a new generation of restaurateurs to make their impacts on this iconic neighborhood in a world-class city,” Petroni told the Chronicle.
Correction: October 12, 2023, 12:06 p.m. This article was corrected to show that Nancy Pelosi is a member of the United States House of Representatives.