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Changes come for two Noe Valley restaurants

Changes come for two Noe Valley restaurants
(Photo: La Ciccia)
By Marie Edinger - Published on March 18, 2022.

The late pandemic is bringing one closure and one ownership change to the Noe Valley dining scene.

For sixteen years, La Ciccia (291 30th St.), the beloved and intimate Sardinian restaurant has served the Noe Valley neighborhood and fans around the Bay. Now, its owners have decided to sell the business to a South Bay restaurant group, as Tablehopper reports. COVID fatigue, an overdue foot surgery, and an ailing parent pushed the family to close up shop.

La Ciccia was an early recipient of some pandemic-related aid — in May 2020, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, who own a home nearby, gave them a $100,000 gift along with seven other of their favorite spots in SF and Palo Alto. And the restaurant survived the last year, finally able to offer indoor dining again last spring.

The soon-to-be-former owners of La Ciccia, husband and wife duo Massimiliano Conti and Lorella Degan, come from Sardinia, an island in the Mediterranean Sea with a rich history and even richer cuisine. Conti and Degan filled their menu with authentic dishes like baby octopus stew, semolina gnochetti, fusilli with sea urchin, traditional Sardinian flatbread, seared lamb, and more. Their last day running the show will be April 16, a week after the restaurant celebrates its 16th birthday. Conti says he will be heading to Sardinia to care for his ailing mother, and Degan is headed for a foot surgery that's been put off.

The group taking over has promised to keep the menu and recipes the same, but the staff could still turn over and impact the transition. Some cooks have been with the restaurant since it first opened, and other employees — both in the front and back of the house — have been there for over half a decade. One runner has been there for twelve years now, and it's not yet clear how many of the staff will stick around. But what's certain for regulars will be that Degan and Conti's hospitality will no longer be part of the experience, which will be a great loss.

Ardiana (1781 Church St.), an eclectic Italian restaurant just a stone's throw from La Ciccia in a space that had previously housed La Ciccia’s wine bar, is meeting a similar fate. The restaurant, one of three owned by restaurateur Sharon Ardiana, had alluded to plans to reopen after the pandemic, but it was apparently not meant to be.

“Dear friends and neighbors, it’s with a heavy heart we’ve decided we will not be reopening Ardiana. We thank you for the years of love and support. Any outstanding gift cards have been transferred to Ragazza. Stay safe and healthy,” the owners, Ardiana and Greg Hinds, wrote on the home page of the restaurant’s website.

Tablehopper reported that Ardiana said the team “made the tough decision to close and focus our efforts on Gialina and Ragazza. Both are doing well and hopefully this summer, SF will return to a more robust dining scene and we can put these s***ty 2 years behind us!”

Gialina is the team's 15-year-old pizzeria on Diamond Street at the intersection with Kern Street, in the Glen Park neighborhood — and it was a consistent favorite of former Chronicle critic Michael Bauer. Ragazza, their second spot also focused on pizza, opened on Divisadero in 2010.