'Roma Antica' Brings Traditional Roman Eats To Marina

A new Italian spot, Roma Antica, is opening up in the former Kobani Mediterranean Grill space at 3242 Scott St. in the Marina. While a soft opening will happen August 1st, the restaurant is hosting a neighborhood welcoming party this Saturday, July 29th.

Roma Antica will serve up a variety of traditional homemade pastas (carbonara, cacio e pepe, bucatini all’amatriciana and more), soups, salads, and authentic Roman sandwiches and flat breads. It will also be serving up pinsa, an older Roman form of pizza that first originated during the days of the Roman Empire.

A wine list—created by Berkeley sommelier Zoti Toprak—will accompany the menu, with wines from Italy, France, and California. Brunch will be served Friday through Sunday, serving American items like pancakes and waffles, as well as breakfast pinsa, frittata, and bottomless mimosas.

The exterior under construction. 

The new restaurant comes courtesy of longtime friends Dogukan Solmaz (originally from Istanbul) and Roberto Svraglia (originally from Rome), who first met at hospitality school in Rome in 2005. Solmaz immigrated to the United States in 2008 and after a stint in New York, he said that he "started to see the potential of restaurants in America."

The two hope to bring reasonably-priced Italian meals—with an authentic Italian vibe—to the area. And true to the family-friendly spirit of Italian eateries, the restaurant was created with both parents and their children in mind.

"Our target is parents, who can enjoy a glass of wine while the kids play," said owner Solmaz. "There are upscale restaurants all over San Francisco. But I don't see a lot of places in the Marina where you can bring your kids for homemade pasta."

The two worked together at West Portal's Trattoria da Vittorio—adding to Solmaz's 11 years in the restaurant industry—and slowly started plans for Roma Antica. 

Dogukan Solmaz and Roberto Svraglia.

Solmaz was inspired by Antica—an Italian restaurant run by Svraglia's family in Rome for 30 years. "I really liked the family feel of their restaurant," he said.

Solmaz encouraged Svraglia to come to the US to eventually start their own business. For the past three years, the two have scouted locations in San Francisco.

Solmaz and Svraglia were initially attracted to the Marina for its families and beauty. "The Marina is the sunshine of San Francisco," Solmaz said.

They also found the area not to be overly saturated with Italian restaurants; Solmaz said the Marina was a place where the two could "just bring a different taste, not compete." 

Both staff and materials hail from various parts of Italy. The chef—Davide Cogliati—has worked in San Francisco for eight years (Acquerello, Amarena), and is originally from Milan. Other employees are from Rome, the Amalfi Coast, and Sicily. 

A Mugnaini pizza oven has also been imported from Italy to get the pinsa (and porchetta) right. In the restaurant itself, careful consideration has been given to the atmosphere of the location.

"People [are surprised] to see how much the space has changed, and how fast we worked to make changes." said Solmaz.

The two added outdoor seating for that "al fresco" experience—with heat lamps, because this is San Francisco—and the interior is fitted with tiled floors from Italy and modern light fixtures from Venice.

The bar is made from Calacatta marble, and the back wall features Italian bricks that are over 100 years old. Plans are in the works to project classic Italian films on the brick wall. 

At the neighborhood welcoming party tomorrow at 1pm, Roma Antica will serve food and drink. A soft opening on August 1st will see a shortened menu focused on Roman classics.

The official opening—with full menu—is slated for late August.

Once open, Roma Antica's hours will be Monday to Thursday 11am-10pm, Friday to Saturday 10am-midnight, and Sunday 10am-9pm. 

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Roma antica brings traditional roman eats to marina