Long before it was a tourist’s mecca filled with souvenir shops and selfie sticks, Fisherman’s Wharf was the industrial hub of San Francisco, crisscrossed by lumber yards and railroad tracks, as well as a booming fishing industry, which is how Nunzio Alioto ended up coming ashore. He arrived in 1898 from Sicily and set up a fish stall at #8 Fisherman’s Wharf where he sold cracked crab and shrimp to other Italian workers. When Nunzio died at the age of 49, his wife Rose rolled up her sleeves and got busy, taking over her husband’s business and laying the foundation for what would be one of San Francisco’s oldest family-run restaurants. Rose was the first woman to work on Fisherman’s Wharf, and was the first restaurateur to create a fish stew called Cioppino, now one of San Francisco’s signature dishes. As Fisherman’s Wharf grew as a tourist destination, so too did Alioto’s, in no small part due to Rose’s strength of character and determination. More than 90 years since opening, Alioto’s is run by the third and fourth generation of the family who work hard to preserve a legacy started by a Sicilian man and nourished by a mighty Rose. The menu is peppered with a number of Alioto family recipes passed on from the matriarch, such as the seafood risotto, but the most popular, and rightfully so, is Nonna Rose’s Famous Dungeness Crab Cioppino. Enjoy Cioppino at CAFÉ 8 with views overlooking the fishing boats and the Golden Gate Bridge.
– excerpted from Kimberly Lovato, travel writer.