Historical Alioto’s Restaurant in San Francisco Celebrates 88th Anniversary
Beginning as humble fish stall No. 8 on the Fisherman’s Wharf 88 years ago, Alioto’s Restaurant has grown into a San Francisco institution and a tourist attraction. It continues to offer masterfully prepared, fresh seafood as well as an old-world ambience and impeccable service.
Family-owned and operated, Alioto’s maintains many traditional features of a well-established dining destination following the highest industry standards, be it scrumptious food, comfortably spaced seating, friendly staff, white table cloths, or tux-clad servers.
One more secret to Alioto’s long-lasting success is the dining room view of the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the fishing fleet—all bejeweled by night with flickering lights.
A dinner of Sicilian family recipes (some 88 years old!) might start with a classic Manhattan, a glass of California Pinot, or Italian Peroni beer. Everything pairs easily with the many wonderful choices on the menu—and it’s hard to go wrong with any of them.
Griddle-fried, Sicilian-style calamari and shrimp is a house specialty. The softest and tastiest chunks of seafood are lightly coated with muddica (Sicilian bread crumbs), sprinkled with parsley, and served with a lemon wedge. Squeeze it over the golden-brown deliciousness and you get a plateful of joy that might be hard to share with your dining companion.
Another hit appetizer is Alioto’s famous Dungeness crab cake, made with sweet local crab, mildly seasoned and spiced, and served with greens, fresh-diced tomatoes, and lemon butter sauce with chives.
In fact, fresh, local Dungeness crab dishes occupy a special section of the menu, which stars Nonna Rose’s famous crab cioppino, with a generous helping of crab legs, shrimp, mussels, and clams in a spicy tomato sauce. If you are hesitant to indulge in this house specialty because of the risks involved with cracking the crab legs over a plateful of red broth, ask for a “lazy man” version of the dish, in which everything is shelled and cleaned without sacrificing the flavor.
The fresh fish and shellfish menu contains too many good things to pick one quickly, but go ahead, take your time, no one is rushing you. If scallops or lobster tails don’t strike your fancy, wild swordfish involtini is sure to satisfy. In this dish, crabmeat is wrapped in swordfish filet and then fried, served with a side of rice, green beans, diced tomatoes, and lemon-caper butter.
Of course, there are many other intriguing plates to choose from in the soups and salads, pastas and rice, and meat and fowl menu sections.
Then, the dessert tray arrives, leaving the majority of patrons with yet another tough choice to make. Traditional tiramisu is hands down the best you would ever try, and if you are still looking for some variety a combination dessert plate might include miniature versions of sweet ricotta-stuffed cannoli, blueberry crème brûlée, tangerine-mango sorbet, and fresh strawberries in Maraschino liqueur sauce.
Not only distinctive Sicilian recipes are handed down from one generation of the Alioto family to another. The walls of the dining room greeting area and the staircase are lined with old photos, newspaper clippings, and menus from the restaurant’s past, a reflection of the rich family history and its ties to San Francisco.
Alioto’s is open every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Parking is free with validation. The restaurant is located at No. 8 Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. For reservations, call (415) 673-0183.