(Image via Gabo on Flickr)
One of the nice things about the Steps of Rome Caffe in North Beach is that it's usually the last place serving a hot and tasty meal after the other joints have locked their doors: The ideal destination for a celebratory late-night supper. This is where I concluded a night of revelry after the Giants won Game Five of the 2002 World Series, and it's here I found myself on Election Night 2008, the VJ Day-like echoes of honking horns, ringing cable cars and screams of ecstasy still echoing about the cerebellum.
Happily, the menu is tempting and wide-ranging as well as night owl-friendly. The carpaccio and the bruschetta make excellent starters. The spinach-pancetta salad with goat cheese and candied pecans is a painless way to get your vitamins. The grilled chicken, spring greens and pesto on focaccia is a terrific late-night snack, the pasta amatriciana is ideal for a bit of pre-hangover carbo-loading, and the spiedini (grilled shrimp, scallops, calamari and asparagus wrapped in pancetta) is a classy, delectable meal in itself. Get the affogato (gelato doused in espresso) for dessert.
A rambunctious vegan friend is especially fond of Steps of Rome for its party-time vibe as well as its wide array of flesh-free dining options. You'll also probably notice that every member of the waitstaff is cheerful, welcoming and, um, highly aesthetic. Steps of Rome Caffe is located at 248 Columbus at Vallejo; 397-0435; open daily until 2 a.m., weekends until 3 a.m. —Matthew Stafford