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Tosca Cafe reopens parklet, indoor dining to come

Photo: Nadine M./Yelp
By Jay Barmann - Published on March 05, 2021.

102-year-old Tosca Cafe (242 Columbus Ave.) is coming alive yet again in North Beach, after a too-brief rebirth last year, and following its much bemoaned 2019 closure.

The bar-turned-upscale restaurant, as you may recall, was a casualty of the collapse of the shared restaurant empire of chef April Bloomfield and accused sexual harasser Ken Friedman. While Bloomfield had initially appeared to be holding on to her West Coast restaurants without Friedman, Tosca went on to shut down in July 2019 following an unsuccessful effort by a couple of employees to buy the business from Bloomfield. Barely a month later we learned that local restaurateur Anna Weinberg (Marlowe, Park Tavern, The Cavalier), local chef and restaurateur Nancy Oakes (Boulevard, Prospect), and acclaimed designer Ken Fulk had partnered to buy Tosca, intending to reopen it in a similar but revamped vein later that year. December became March, and then came the pandemic, and after an aborted plan to host a pop-up of Tosca in a SoMa parking lot last summer, the "3.0" version of the restaurant debuted its outdoor seating area in mid-November, about two weeks before all dining shut down once again. 

Now, as the new owners announced on Friday, the restaurant is again open for prix-fixe dinner service in its new and barely used parklet — with indoor dining likely to come at limited capacity. (SF is only, at this writing, two days into allowing indoor dining at 25% capacity, and not all restaurants are rushing to do it as their staffs continue to get their COVID vaccines.) 

"We are thrilled to announce the re-opening of our beloved Tosca Cafe," a reopening email says. "Join us for dinner Thursday-Saturday and Brunch on Sunday."

Walk-ins are being accommodated, but because of the limited amount of seating, reservations on Tock are encouraged

Oakes has promised a traditional Italian-American menu, celebrating North Beach's history and building upon the reputation that Bloomfield's crew helped to earn for the "2.0" version of Tosca during its six years, beginning in 2013. The current offering is $75 per-person for family-style antipasti and pasta, along with a choice of four entrees. The antipasti includes a Roman-style spring vegetable stew with English peas, fava beans, and artichokes; and crispy sunchokes with Tuscan kale pesto. There's a lumache carbonara for a mid-course, and the curren entrees include a halibut "all'Amtriciana," nettle risotto, pork canneloni, and Tuscan fried chicken served with a chicory salad.

The brunch menu, which debuts on Sunday, March 7, features grapefruit mimosas, a chicory salad with blood orange, walnuts, gorgonzola dulce, and lemon-anchovy dressing; a polenta pancake with pickled Dungeness crab and uni butter; baked eggs with guanciale, spicy tomato sauce, and foccacia; and bombolini (Italian doughnuts) for the table.

The patio opens Thursday to Saturday at 3 p.m., and reservations are currently available through 8:45 p.m.

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