Tommaso’s Ristorante Italiano + Martuni’s Piano Lounge

Our Memorial Weekend began with a bang. My law school roommate, Jazzgirl, invited us to Martuni’s piano lounge to celebrate her girlfriend DM’s birthday. For dinner beforehand, we visited one of our all-time favorite Italian restaurants in San Francisco – Tommaso’s (AK was really excited that I picked an Italian eatery as opposed the usual East Asian fare). Legend has it that Francis Ford Coppola, director of the Godfather trilogy, used to eat here all the time when his studio was in North Beach (although I normally don’t care about where celebrities eat, I think Mr. Coppola is actually Italian…so I’m giving his opinion some weight).

Tommaso’s is a traditional Italian restaurant with a menu that probably has not changed in decades – one would not find, say, a pizza with prosciutto, asiago, gorgonzola, balsamic reduction and fig preserve here (that would be Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, a different but equally excellent pizza place). What they have on offer, however, is amazing. AK and I shared a pasta dish, the wonderful meatball ravioli combo, and a sausage pepperoni pizza.

Tommasos - Meatball Ravioli

Tommasos - Pizza

Those brick ovens churn out such delicious crusts! My photo doesn’t do it justice. (Also, I’ve been relying on the iPhone camera exclusively recently, but have not been completely satisfied with the quality.)  We devoured our food with relish.

After dinner, we drove over to Martuni’s, located in the part of SoMa that’s closer to the Mission/Lower Haight. We parked right outside of this very cute establishment. Is it an inviting coffee shop? A cozy ethnic restaurant? A hipster vinyl record store?

Ketama

The answer is none of the above. This place is…a medical marijuana dispensary! You would never have known this from the outside. I couldn’t believe how this was just one the side of a busy road, with people just casually strolling in and out of the establishment. I suppose San Francisco doesn’t get its reputation for cannabis-friendliness for nothing!

I loved the concept of Martuni’s. Guests are invited to make song requests, and there is an open mike for people to belt out their favorite tunes (unfortunately, it was too dark and too crowded for pictures). It turned out to be great deal of fun – I had not been to a piano bar in ages! It was certainly more entertaining than just the average dive, and many of the singers sounded professional (I was told that this was a popular hangout for theater people). It was also a very friendly and chatty crowd. After a few hours, however, AK and I started to feel strangely old, even though we were by no means the oldest people there. I guess we were just not accustomed to staying out this late anymore (sadly, any place outside of the home after 10 p.m. feels “late” these days). Shortly after 11 p.m., we bid adieu to the birthday girl and headed back to the Peninsula. It was past midnight by the time we got home, and we quickly rolled into bed. What an wonderful evening it was.

Tommaso’s Ristorante Italiano
1042 Kearny Street
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 398-9696
http://tommasos.com

Martuni’s
4 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 241-0205
http://martunis.ypguides.net

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