BEST of the BEST 2014 | Leisure | Dining: Tosca Cafe

  • Photo by Sonya Yu
    Tosca Cafe Photo by Sonya Yu
  • Michael Bauer

When diners walk into San Francisco’s Tosca Cafe (415.986.9651, www.toscacafesf.com), they still encounter the towering vintage cappuccino machine behind the bar, the rusty red-and-black-checkered floor, and the jukebox that plays opera. Tosca, a 94-year-old fixture on Columbus Avenue in North Beach, was on the verge of disappearing when it was saved by April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman, a duo best known for the Spotted Pig in New York City. The partners sank more than $1 million into making the place look the same, and they restored the kitchen that had been shuttered since 1953. Bloomfield now spends most of her time there, turning out a spectacular roast chicken, arranged on a thick slab of toast dipped in the juices and spread with ricotta and pine-nut stuffing. She also makes excellent pasta, such as bucatini with tomatoes, chile, and guanciale, and other soulful combinations. And the cappuccino? Perfect. But it does not contain a drop of coffee: only Armagnac, bourbon, chocolate, and milk.

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