Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Obituary: Lorenzo Petroni, Owner and Character of the North Beach Restaurant in San Francisco

 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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  1. Well written obit for a North Beach icon. A hands on restaurant proprietor, old school. He will be missed.

    1. Hopefully, Ronn's tab is paid in full.

  2. Rich,

    You will never get anywhere in life because you're weak. I posted the comment about Lorenzo, Ronn and Savage, and you removed it. You really are the weakest of the weak.

    I've been going to that restaurant for years, and I knew Lorenzo well enough. What I wrote was a fact. But you are beholden to that lowlife Lorenzo wouldn't call a friend, and a hater of Owens, so you removed it.

    Seriously, you are a gutless shill.

    Of course, don't post this, but read it. Let it sink in. You're a weak man. I always gave you the benefit of the doubt. Today you lost it.

    Take care.

    1. Inadvertent mistake...relax. It's re-posted.

      That said, this IS an obituary about Lorenzo. Not a place for insults and attacks. Be advised.

      'Nuff said.

    2. Looks like your wisea** comments are posted, do you feel macho now? Why can't people be civil and respect the dead for a minute?
      Where has chivalry gone?

  3. I met and worked with Lorenzo in 1984 when we remodeled La Pantera and Basta Pasta Restaurant on Grant Street. He and Bruno also operated Basta Pasta, on Grant Street for many years. He was a crazy Italian. That is why I liked him. At 7:30 am he was down in the wine cellar excavation making the space bigger than the construction permit plans described and removing 30 feet of rock that supported the foundation of the next door building up the hill on Vallejo Street. I told him he had to stop or that building would be in the wine cellar. I knew his plans were to have banquet room in the wine cellar and in the second floor "Office Mezzanine."

    Due to a disagreement, he fired the Architect and I was the Structural Engineer consultant under the Architects contract. Lorenzo said,"You work directly for me, and we will finish Basta Pasta." After that, I remained one of his many friends and had numerous great conversations with Lorenzo at his "office table" at the end of the bar, (he was always on the cell phone, with Italy) great lunches, holiday parties, and dinners including a recent 2013 party in the Proscuitto Room for, Mark Ketchum, another close friend of mine who died from cancer in February. I saw many well known people at the restaurant including politicians, celebrities, and Michael Savage and Lorenzo sharing a meal at the outdoor table near the front door. I am a fan of Michael. Though I don't hear his program very much since he moved to EST Prime Time. I liked Lorenzo and the staff at the restaurant. It will not be the same without him.


  4. Only cowards hide behind anonymous.

  5. I wonder what the estate tax will be on his restaurant. I sure hope they planned properly so that Lorenzo's pride and joy isn't seized by the IRS to be converted into an Illegal Alien soup kitchen.

  6. If Savage liked him i liked him .
    Savage is my BAROMETER of life.

  7. I am flattered that you took my photograph from my website and used it in this piece. Usually, we credit each other when we 'borrow without compensation'. The original piece, and additional photographs, can be found at

  8. "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."
    Can you stop kissing his ass? Are they the best ever because he said so? Why do we need him and/or his minions to tell us what is the "best"? Time will tell. That fraudster is always tooting his own horn. He needs to shut his trap and let others decide what the best of anything in SF truly is. We don't need him to tell us.