SAN FRANCISCO — A New Yorker by birth, Tony Bennett came to San Francisco several times a year to see family and friends and perform for thousands of adoring fans.
North Beach was a place that Tony Bennett would visit every time he was in town, especially Piazza Pelligrini. It was owned by one of his friends and even when there was a change of ownership, Bennett came back for his favorite dish.
Dario Hadjian took over Piazza Pelligrini in 2005 and has since served the iconic crooner several times.
“I remember one time, it was Saturday night and we almost had a full house on the books and he called at 5 and he said, ‘We’re coming here. 20 people at 7.’ I’m like, “Okay.” I couldn’t say no to Tony.”
Hadjian says Tony Bennett loved his pasta and red wine. In the restaurant they make their meat, lobster, pumpkin and ravioli with spinach and ricotta by hand. Bennett regularly ordered one of the house specialties.
“His favorite dish was this ravioli here. It’s filled with meat and the meat sauce. This was his favorite that he would order every time.”
Hadjian called Bennett a true artist, more than a gifted musician.
“He just sat here, with me, Gino and his wife at the table and his favorite thing was that he would usually ask for a pen and a piece of paper and start drawing,” Hadjian recalled.
Hadjian recalls personally seeing Bennett perform “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” While Bennett was a music superstar, in Piazza Pelligrini he was just one of the guys.
“He was a very comfortable guy to deal with. He was really down to earth,” Hadjian said.
Now Hadjian cherishes his many memories of Bennett and a signed vinyl album.
“I’m sorry he’s not with us anymore, but we definitely lost the last of the good guys. He was the very last.”