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Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Most Old-School Place in North Beach Is Its Newest: The Italian Homemade Company

Posted By on Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 8:52 AM

  • Stuffed bell pepper and a cassone made with sausage, cheese and potato.
In spite of the resurgence for traditional cooking methods, genuine homemade Italian food sounds almost out of place in contemporary San Francisco. It’s not so surprising to hear of a person brewing beer, pickling daikon and finding a dozen uses for whey, but a husband-and-wife team that makes their own sausages and pastas without a ton of conspicuously modern equipment? That sounds somehow improbable.

click to enlarge PETE KANE
  • Pete Kane
But that’s the deal at the Italian Homemade Company, a winning specialty grocery housed in a nice big space on Columbus Avenue. While the $13/lb. pastas are stored in the same kind of fridge you’d usually find Crystal Geyser in, traditionalism governs most everything else. The wooden floorboards could be from a 19th-century farmhouse, and there’s a shabby-chic hutch for a condiment stand. A retail area stocks familiar brands (LaVazza, De Cecco, Bari), much of them artfully arranged in vintage boxes.

It can be a bit confusing. Because the menu changes daily, the only written-out list is a sandwich board on the sidewalk, so you may have to walk in and out a couple of times after glancing from the cases to the board and back. Nor is it truly set up for dining in, as there are few tables and no plates. But you’ll probably get a free meatball or piece of flatbread.

click to enlarge Gnocchi in Bolognese. - PETE
  • Pete
  • Gnocchi in Bolognese.

And the Italian Homemade Company’s proprietors are very accommodating. When I was informed that they’d just sold the last of the day’s gnocchi roll, I was steered towards an off-menu dish of gnocchi in Bolognese, straight from the “Pasta Lab.” A sausage, cheese and potato cassone (hot sandwich) and a stuffed bell pepper kept the action going, as curious types who’ve lived in North Beach for decades sauntered in for some samples. This is the kind of place for spontaneous people, the kind who won’t be upset when the thing they wanted isn’t available, forcing them to fall in love with something else.

The Italian Homemade Company, 716 Columbus, 712-8874.

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About The Author

Pete Kane

Pete Kane

Pete Kane is a total gaylord who is trying to get to every national park before age 40

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