Lorenzo Petroni was the owner of the famed North Beach Restaurant in the city--mere owner and proprietor is a disservice --Petroni was a character straight out of central casting only real and genuine to the core.
It's a sad day. Petroni died Tuesday due to complications from esophagus cancer. He was 76.
I only knew Lorenzo for a few years but he was like a father. His politics were too much to the right for me but he was passionate and never belligerent. He loved this country and was always careful not to let his politics supersede business although he was ready and willing to let you know how he felt, good-naturedly for the most part.
The North Beach Restaurant catered to local celebrities, politicians, media people-- the well-heeled and North Beach social scene. A little lighter version of Carmine's in NY. The food was good, (and still is), but the major part of the experience was breaking bread when Lorenzo was around. He would insist that you have this food in addition to your food. He would, lovingly, argue with you and yell if you didn't have more of the celebrated prosciutto and as regular, Michael Savage, said, too little salt.
Lorenzo was a throwback --old-school personified, the ultimate restaurant raconteur always centered on the crowd and the room, making sure everyone was taken care of from Willie Brown to Willie Smith to John and Jane from Ohio. If the meal wasn't perfect, then Lorenzo insisted you tell him and wanted no part of any irritant about the food. The cooks had a simple guide: make the food good and have everyone coming back wanting more.
The restaurant is still open and will be run by Lorenzo's son, Peter. It will never be the same of course, but that's life. Speaking of which, Lorenzo had a good life. And from those you know, is in a much better place now.
We offer our condolences to family and friends of Mr. Petroni.
A memorial and funeral services are pending.
UPDATE: Savage memorialized Lorenzo in his two new NY Times, best-selling novels, 'Abuse of Power' and 'A Time for War'. Savage's descriptions of North Beach and the Bay are the best-ever written according to insiders who are afraid to identify themselves for fear of offending the mindless illiterate zealots that are inhabitants of this town and beyond. Shameful.
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