By: Antonella Pomilla with Raymond Guarini

“Cioppino is an Italian fish stew or soup using “the catch of the day.” Originating in San Francisco, the touristy Fisherman’s Wharf has it available practically on every menu” says Antonella Pomilla, an Italian-American New Yorker who runs the popular food instagram, Foodgetaboutit. When asked, Raymond Guarini, Founder of the Italian Enclaves Historical Society (Instagram and Facebook: @Italianenclaves) mentioned that his favorite Cioppino was at a restaurant in Fisherman’s Wharf called Scoma’s: “I was in San Francisco, and I received a call from an old friend in New York who had just gotten his own show on primetime television and was calling me to let me know. I was bummed that I wasn’t close by to celebrate with him. When I told him I was in San Francisco documenting the Italian neighborhoods there, the first thing out of his mouth was a loud, shouting ‘Scoma’s. The next day I got up early with my camera slung over my neck and walked through the entire section of North Beach photo documenting the neighborhood slowly working my way towards Fisherman’s Wharf. Thankfully, the walk towards the port where Scoma’s is located was on a steep decline from my hotel. After walking at least four miles of hilly terrain including Telegraph Hill, I arrived at Fisherman’s Wharf with an appetite beyond compare. After seeing a row of Italian restaurants primarily offering fish, I began to wonder about perhaps straying from my friend’s recommendation and checking something else out but luckily for me, I stayed on course and walked into Scoma’s where I landed a nice table inside that was comfortably amidst countless autographed celebrity photographs. It was a cool spring day and the chilly ocean breeze definitely warranted ordering the legendary signature dish, so I went ahead and ordered a bowl of fisherman’s stew, Cioppino. It was to die for. Four years later, I can still taste it and often rave about it. I opted to take the trolley back towards the Fairmont, not capable of rolling myself four miles uphill.”

Photo Copyright Raymond Guarini c/o Italian Enclaves Historical Society

San Francisco has had at least three Italian Enclaves including North Beach. Cioppino was always a choice dish because it would incorporate a little of this and a little of that, chiefly whatever was on hand or what happened to be available. Fresh tomato sauce was generally often available and in fact, canned tomatoes were locally sourced and canned at a cannery in Fisherman’s Wharf which employed many of the local Italian immigrants.

Cioppino cooking prepared by Antonella Pomilla

Cioppino made by Antonella Pomilla

Cioppino made by Antonella Pomilla

Pomilla continues “A few Sundays ago, as I watched Cook’s Country on the PBS channel, the show shared an adapted recipe of one of their favorite places: Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery in Monterey County. The show’s version is pared-down from Phil’s, scaling back on the number and types of fish and shellfish, as well using pantry staples – perfect for easy pandemic cooking! The full recipe can be found here:

For more Italian home cooking, follow me on Instagram at @Foodgetaboutit and follow the Italian Enclaves Historical Society @ItalianEnclaves
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