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THE U.S. RESTAURANT
NORTH BEACH,
SAN FRANCISCO.
Photos 1979 - 1980s.


I discovered the U.S. Restaurant, 431 Columbus Avenue, when I first started driving a taxi in the late 1970s. It was one of the few family run Italian restaurants left in North Beach. At the time I missed my family in New York. The U.S. Restaurant's fine Italian cooking and friendly family gave me a "home away from home." At the time you could get dinner with soup, dessert and coffee for under eight dollars. I used to eat there three to four nights a week.

Established in the 1920s,the name U.S. is an abbreviation of the restaurant's original name - Unione Sportiva. Natives of Parma, Italy, Maria and Luigi Borzoni purchased the U.S. from Luigi's brother Camillo Borzoni and Joe Cassarotto in 1964. Borzoni and Cassarotto had the place for seven years after buying it from an Argentinean family.

The restaurant was completely family run. Maria and Luigi's daughters, Anna and Anita helped with the cooking and waiting on tables. Their son, John, did the cleaning after hours. His wife, Lou, is also a waitress. Alberto Cipollina, who did the bookkeeping with his wife Anna, also worked as chef. I became friends with the family and when I got my first 35 mm camera in 1979 I started doing a series of portraits inside the restaurant.

In the mid-1990s Maria retired and closed the restaurant. Her son-in-law Alberto reopened the U.S. with a partner a few months later with new decor and a new modern menu. It did not succeed. It closed and about a year later Alberto opened what is called the Original U.S. Restaurant up the street at 515 Columbus Avenue with a new staff.

usA (36K) U.S. Restaurant owners Luigi and Maria Borzoni. Luigi passed away in the late 1980s. A copy of this photograph was purchased by the family and has been hanging in the restaurant since the early 1980s and is currently on display at their new location.

us1 (40K) The U.S. Restaurant's original location on the corner of Columbus and Stocton Streets in San Francico's North Beach. The day I got my first 35mm camera I put a roll of color film in it and walked around the city and took photographs. These first three photos are from that roll.

us2 (43K) My first portrait of Anna serving some customers wine.

us3 (36K) Maria and Luigi's grandson John Borzoni Jr. walks into the dining room. John worked as a busboy at the restaurant.

us4 (41K)
Alberto worked as a chef and cook at the restaurant.

us5 (43K) Anita goes up to the counter to get some dinner plates. Anna smiles from behind the counter.

us6 (32K) Anita's husband Lorianno usually had dinner each night at the restaurant.

us7 (29K) The daughter's of John Borzoni (left) and Alberto Cipollina (right).

us8 (34K) After the restaurant closes, Alberto sits down and has a dinner he prepared.

us9 (34K) My favorite portrait of Anna.

us10 (34K) Grace Favaloro stirs the spaghetti sauce (1988).

us11 (30K) Grace reacts as she sees me with the camera.

us12 (37K) From left to right, Grace, Maria, Luigi and Alberto enjoy lunch together.

us13A (37K) Some nights I would have dinner together with John Borzoni.

us14 (35K) Grace, Anita and one of the cooks smile from the other side of the counter.

us15 (36K) The girls help Anna clean the tables after closing.

us17 (45K) One of the last portraits I did at the restaurant in 1988. Lou, Anita and Anna get together for a portrait near the front door.

us18 (41K)
A view of the front of the restaurant. If you look closely at the awning you can see the name of the travel agency that was painted over. The travel agency was originally on the corner before closing down and the space became part of the U.S.'s dining room.



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