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One of San Francisco’s Most Prolific Restaurateurs Is Bringing Coastal Italian to Union Square

Adriano Paganini’s Back of the House will open its latest restaurant Corzetti inside Hotel G near Union Square

Lauren Saria is the editor of Eater SF and has been writing about food, drinks, and restaurants for more than a decade.

If you’ve lived in San Francisco for more than a minute, it’s likely you’ve encountered one of Adriano Paganini’s restaurants. His Back of the House portfolio includes nearly two dozen restaurants and bars, ranging from popular spots such as rooftop margarita destination El Techo and Hayes Valley’s a Mano to local mini-chain Super Duper Burger and three outposts of all-day pizzeria Delarosa. But even with businesses spotted all across the city, Paganini isn’t ready to rest on his laurels. Later this month, he’ll open a new restaurant inspired by the summers he spent as a kid in Italy near the Ligurian Sea.

Corzetti, which opens on August 14, will serve a seafood-centric menu highlighting regional specialties like traditional Genovese pesto and thin and crispy focaccia di recco filled with cheese. The restaurant takes over a ground floor space at the Hotel G, just a block off of Union Square on the corner of Geary and Mason streets. And Paganini says he’s excited to plant his latest project downtown — despite the way the area has struggled to rebound from the pandemic. “I do believe that Union Square is still good,” Paganini says, “and if it’s not great today, I think it’s still gonna be good and get better.”

Executive chef Tali Missirlian, former chef de cuisine at the Tailor’s Son, will head up the kitchen team. She worked with Paganini on the menu, which aims to be both “affordable and approachable,” in Paganini’s words. The restaurant will offer Ligurian classics such as seafood and shellfish ciuppin, a seafood stew similar to cioppino; pansotti in salsa di noci, a stuffed pasta filled with greens; and fazzoletti al pesto, a handkerchief-shaped pasta common in Liguria that’ll be served in the region’s famous pesto.

There’s also a full bar, with cocktails from West Bev’s Nora Furst, who’s previously worked on the drink menus at a handful of Paganini’s restaurants including Lolinda and Delarosa. It’s a lengthy list including a Lambrusco spritz, a negroni, an olive leaf martini, and a riff on an espresso martini. The wine list aims for wide appeal with “easy to drink sparkling and natural wines,” according to a press release, plus Italian varietals and bold Super Tuscans.

Paganini worked with ROY Hospitality on the restaurant's contemporary design, which includes nautical touches like striped banquettes “like you would see in those really cool fancy wood boats in Italy,” the owner describes, and round windows that echo portholes. “The place looks very special and very unique and very designed,” Paganini says. “But you're going to be able a kind of decide what type of experience you want. It definitely has range, which I think is important for this area.”

Paganini hopes the restaurant will appeal to both the tourists who flock to Union Square and locals who find themselves downtown for business or to catch a show. Between the full bar and wide-ranging menu, he hopes Corzetti can be both a dinner destination, a happy hour spot, and a power lunch option for downtown. “I’m excited about it,” he says. “I’m excited about this new challenge, and I’m excited about San Francisco. I’m tired of reading articles that San Francisco is done.”

Corzetti opens on August 14 for dinner service. In the coming weeks, the restaurant will serve lunch from 12 to 3 p.m. and dinner from 3 to 10 p.m.

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