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May 9, 2008 09:25 AM

Joey & Eddie's - anyone been yet?

My transplanted New Yorker hubby and I are going to Joey & Eddie's tomorrow night. He is a well rounded foodie and loves Cal-Italian, Italian/Italian (and all the other great choices we have here in the Bay Area) but has been longing for good East Coast Italian. We have high hopes. Anybody been yet? Recs?

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  1. Isn't there model supposed to be Carmines in NY? Yikes.

    20 Replies
    1. re: sugartoof

      Should I be scared? Not an East Coaster myself and never been to Carmine's, so not sure what that would mean.Tell me more.

      As long as the food is good - high quality ingredients that are well prepared, I'll be okay.

      1. re: lovebitessf

        It's just tricky to find old family-style, red sauce Italian with high quality ingredients, and good prepared. Emulating Americanized Italian (think the Gold Spike, Dante's, and the original US Cafe) rather then traditional Sicilian Italian doesn't really imply fresh ingredients.

      2. re: sugartoof

        Their publicity says, "The Bronx Has Dominick's. Manhattan Has Carmine's. And Now… San Francisco Has JOEY & EDDIE'S."

        People on the Manhattan board seem to like the original Carmine's for somewhat the same reasons that people here like Tadich and Original Joe's:

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Tadich's, and Original Joe's? Uh, no comparison. The reviews you linked to in your Chow search should explain why.

          Anyway.... Carmine's opened the same time as Moose's. If they wanted a modern classic, they had it. Why emulate a tourist trap in New York? The Carmine's formula is non-threatening red sauce food in a centrally located high volume tourist area, which caters to large groups and a political lunch crowd.

          As much as I think North Beach is lacking a really good fresh classic Italian joint, I'm suspect of any concept that picks such a cornball place to emulate. San Francisco has some amazingly creative concepts, but they're not really finding their way to North Beach (Coi withstanding, it's more on the fringe). Food wise, I'm expecting Pasta Pomodoro in a grander room, and all that said, I wouldn't be shocked if they start winning awards for duplicating Carmine's Vodka Penne or whatever. Sounds depressing.

          1. re: sugartoof

            East Coast transplants are always asking where to find the kind of red-sauce Italian they grew up with. If it reminds those people of home, I expect J&E's will be as successful as the Amici's and Lobster Shack mini-chains.

            The best Italian food in SF is elsewhere, but there's good Italian food of several styles in North Beach, for example at Ideale, Rose Pistola, L'Osteria del Forno, and Da Flora.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I don't get that, because San Francisco has never had a shortage of red sauce... it's more that.there was a time not too long ago when cream/pestos were exotic for the Tri-State.

              Also, the mention of Dominick's in the same sentence as Carmine's is kind of criminal. One is the real deal, while the other is an homage. So J&E are an replicating a replica.

              1. re: sugartoof

                Italian immigrants to the New York area were primarily from the south and Sicily, while those who came to San Francisco were from the north, particularly Liguria.

                North Beach-style Italian-American food is sufficiently different that transplants from the East Coast often don't find it satisfies their cravings for the Italian-American food they grew up with.

                The Last Supper Club already made a success from catering to that market.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Being SF born and raised, this discussion had got me thinking about all the SF old-school talian places I have frequented with my fellow natives...many are Italian-Americans who grew up in North Beach. Where did we go? La Felce (now closed), Sodini's (fun, good service, good food, not fantastic), Tommasso's (yum!), Marcello's on Taravel (decent, very old school neighborhood place), Capp's, Cafe Sport (back in the day - yes, I'm dating myself).

                  Anyway, to Robert's point, all Northern Italian-American...

                  We'll see how J&E's does for us. In any event, a night in North Beach is always enjoyable.

                  1. re: lovebitessf

                    Fior d'Italia, the oldest restaurant in North Beach (they claim to be the oldest Italian restaurant in the country), was opened in 1886 and has always been Northern Italian. I think the original owners were from around Pisa.

                    Cioppino, the signature dish of local Italian-American cooking, is a local variation on Ligurian ciuppin.

                    Gold Spike was started by Tuscans in 1920.

                    Tommaso's was started by an American, Frank Cantalupo, in 1935. His family ran a Neapolitan restaurant in Greenwich Village. (The place was originally called Lupo's, and was renamed Tommaso's after Tommy Chin, a longtime waiter, who bought the place in 1971.)

                    Caffe Sport wasn't a restaurant until after the current owner, a Sicilian, bought it in 1969.

                    La Felce was opened in 1974.

                    Gaspare's opened in 1985.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      These were still ALL red sauce places, and they slowly added the Northern style dishes as they came into vogue.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Cioppino acutally originated from San Francisco Yugoslavians at Ernie's in SF, a Croation-run Italian seafood joint.

                        1. re: soulfoodsf

                          Now what documentation do you have on that other than Ernie.


                          A more credible source than wiki is the food timeline

                          However there is this claim by the Croatians

                          1. re: soulfoodsf

                            Cioppino's been around since the mid-1800s. Ernie's existed from 1931 until 1995.

                        2. re: lovebitessf

                          How was your dinner?

                          Joey & Eddie's
                          1652 Stockton, San Francisco, CA 94133

                        3. re: Robert Lauriston

                          "The Sicilians lived near the water, the Toscano lived up on the hill, the Genovese lived in the alleys," he said.

                          Aside from Liguria bakery, and Fior D'Italia, I can't think of any North Beach holdovers known for Northern Italian. Most of the North Beach institutions leaned heavily towards Southern influenced red sauce Italian like what you see at Carmine's.... New Pisa, Golden Spike, Cafe Sport, Capp's Corner, Tommaso's, US Restaurant. Same with other oldies in the city, Villa Romano, Gaspares, Marcellos, and more I'm forgetting. None of these places were serving regional specific menus, it was Americanized Italian.

                          For a generation of old San Franciscan their childhood memories of Italian food are mostly thick red sauce, with few Northern dishes that weren't veal related.

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              perhaps they "leaned" that way..but any self respecting former New Yorker would tell you that it was pure crap!!! Not even REMOTELY reflecting a true ragu, gravy of the Eastern/ Southern Italian American.....!

                            2. re: Robert Lauriston

                              I'm no expert on Italian American history but you might want to check again on Siclians in SF. I don't know how many Italians from different regions came to SF but many, many Silicans came to California. One of SF's famous sons, Joe DiMaggio, was Silician, his family were fishermen.

                              They came to places like Monterey, San Francisco, San Diego, San Pedro, etc. where they could fish and in some cases dominate. I'm sure the availability of sardines in both Calif and Sicily was a draw and instant connection.

                              As to red sauce and it's popularity on the east's regional fondness and places probably served it as standard expectation like Mexican enchilladas, Chinese egg rolls, etc.

                              Chinese and Italian cuisines started using seafood, per tradition, upon arriving to SF...they just didn't serve to anyone but themselves or the customers became more receptive. Chinese places continue to serve sweet and sour and Italian places served red sauce.

                              The difference might be that the SF might have been more open to change. If you use these groups as parallels, there was another wave of Chinese immigration to hold up the legacy (right or wrong) but less so with Italians. Why red sauce stays popular on the east coast...must be memory.

                              1. re: ML8000

                                Ligurians arrived in the mid-19th century. The Sicilians arrived a few generations later (e.g. diMaggio's family didn't immigrate until the early 20th century), and many bought their fishing boats from Ligurians who had prospered enough to start more middle-class businesses, such as restaurants.

                                Italians are still immigrating to San Francisco. Gaspare's, Ideale, L'Osteria del Forno, Antica Trattoria, Perbacco, and La Ciccia are all owned by Italians.

                                1. re: ML8000

                        's taste..pure rich depth of flavor...different ragus for different dishes (ex your veal parmagiana might come with one sauce...the pasta accompanying it with, but distinct....and I do have a very good memory!

                    2. The original comment has been removed
                      1. deb and i will be in town in two weeks. i know dom's on arthur avenue pretty well. i'll try to pop over to joey and eddie's (is that spelling correct?) and report back.

                        1. I'm not too surprised that no one reported back on a meal at J&E's since they've only been open a little over a week.

                          Thanks to all who contributed with your thoughts and info on NY and SF Italian-American cuisine. This lively and thought provoking discussion not only sparked a fun conversation between me and my husband over our meal at Joey & Eddie's last night, but got us talking to the group next to us which included locals and visitors from NYC.

                          My report.
                          The room: no structural changes, just new paint, new vibe. And they added a long, counter-height communal table that it the current trend.

                          The food: We had a very good meal and attentive service.
                          Joey & Eddie's salad – Basically an antipasti salad consisting of head lettuce, sliced peperocini, salami, & provolone tossed in red wine vinaigrette. Very tasty. Reminded me of the salad I had as a kid at my friend Angela's Italian grandma's house.
                          Baked clams – delicious, cooked to perfection, not overly breaded. This dish was late to the table (came with our pasta course.) Our server apologized for the timing misstep immediately and informed us that the dish was on the house.
                          Linguini clams in white sauce – plenty of clams, the linguini perfectly al dente. The sauce was flavorful (not too salty) great for sopping up with the warm bread that was constantly replenished.
                          Chicken parm– the chicken was moist, the red sauce flavorful and not too heavy.
                          Broccoli rabe – a bit heavy on the chili flakes, but still good.

                          The group of 8 next to us had the spaghetti and meatballs (the 2 year old chowhound at their table clearly loved this dish!) and the gigantic $60 Porterhouse steak. (Don’t even think of ordering this if you don’t have at least 6 meat lovers at your table.) They were very pleased with their meal.

                          Did this meal satisfy my husband’s longing for that East Coast Italian of his childhood? Not really. But we concluded that “you can’t go home again” and he has vowed to stop trying.

                          Joey & Eddie’s is a welcome addition. Given the local, safe menu, and well prepared food, it will do well with tourists. It also fills a void for locals looking for family style standard Italian and a good full bar in North Beach. We would go back with a large group, but won’t rush.

                          Steve h, hope you get a chance to go when you’re in town and report back.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: lovebitessf

                            Thanks for the report. A lot of us have a soft spot for the old family-style Italian places which served up the food in very generous proportions at modest prices, even if it wasn't the best possible Italian food. You might call it "discomfort food" (as in "pass the Pepto-Bismol, please") but gluttons for punishment that we are, we always went back for more.

                            Joe Dimaggio's Steak House on the south side of the square, another venue that had a tough act to follow, has garnered some grudging praise despite the initial scepticism. It's interesting to speculate on what will replace the WashBag on western flank of the park.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  I would say that the prices are reasonable, a good value. Most dishes that we saw look like they contain 3 to 4 decent sized servings.

                                  Starters range from $14 - $17
                                  Pastas from $16 to $19, and Lobster Fra Diavolo at MP
                                  Veggies $9

                                  Meat & Fish from $24 to $26 except for the huge Porterhouse which was $60. Not sure how many ounces, but it looked liked like at least 6 reasonable portions to me.

                                  The food portion of our bill was about $85, but we brought food home. I believe four people could be satisfied with the amount of food we were served. We could add one more dish for good measure.

                                  The wine list was extensive with a wide rande of price points, but I don't know my Italian wines so can't comment. They have some decent CA wines and a good OR pinot.

                                  Live jazz is also featured, but we left before the music started. I would like go back for a later dinner with a larger group as I imagine that the live music would add positively to the experience.

                                  1. re: lovebitessf

                                    Downright cheap if the portions are that ample. Sort of like Buca di Beppo with better food?

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Yes, we were a bit surprised...pleasantly. Wondering if I'm overstating the size of the portions, but if I am, it's not by much. Granted, we didn't see every dish.

                                      Your mention of Buca di Bepo reminds me of another fact to mention. The number of menu items offered at J&E's is quite limited, much more limited than a Buca or Carmine's menu. I don't see this as a negative per say, but we were a bit surprised by this. We assume it's because they just opened and expect that they will expand the menu a bit.

                              1. Greetings from Da Bronx, well Yonkers. its a stones throw from BX. NY Italian here, and i can tell you that Carmines is good for a family style dinner that doesnt include any italians at the table, the food is plentiful and decent, okay, nothing to rave about. SO if Joey & Eddie's is modeled after Carmines its a hit or miss in my book. Btw , im writing this about 5 hours b4 i get on the plane to SF. Im lookin to get some great seafood experience in SF , oysters and local catch, can you recommend something not fancy.

                                17 Replies
                                1. re: Robusto72

                                  Swan's Oyster Depot is old school, fresh, good, not fancy, one counter, been around for almost 100 years. Don't get the chowder.

                                  Fancier and nicer but not "rich" is Hog Island Oyster at the Ferry Plaza.

                                  Unfortunately prime SF crab season is pretty much over but you can still get good west coast crab (WA). You might check out Tadich Grill for cioppino.

                                  1. re: ML8000

                                    Seriously ... telling someone from the East Coast who isn't interested in eating fancy seafood to get that bowl of clams in shell that Hog Island has the nerve to call chowder and charge over $15 ... really? I had it years ago, and as a former East Coaster, I'm still offended by it. Hog Island is good for oysters, though.

                                    Frankly, I'd skip all clam chowder in SF and go for cioppino ... in season crab or not. Good call on that, Tadich and Swan's.

                                    1. re: rworange

                                      Calm down. I wasn't referring to the clam chowder at HI when I said, "Fancier and nicer but not "rich" - I was referring to the actual place, environment compared to SOD. I've never had the CC at HI. Not a chowder fan. Being a Californian never saw it as a big part of the food culture.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              Maybe online, but on a recent visit there were two sizes. I always take the time to sneer at the clam chowder on the menu.

                                        1. re: rworange

                                          I'm from Marblehead Massachusetts, so I know from good New England chowdah, and I'd just like to offer up a meager defense of the Hog Island bowl. While it doesn't match up to what I can get from Kelly's at Revere Beach, I think it's a heckofalot better than most of what gets called chowder on the West Coast. It isn't gloppy, it isn't gloopy, and it's actually quite flavorful. A cup of good chowder on the east coast isn't all that cheap these days, so I didn't flinch at the price either.

                                          My chief complaint with the Hog Island bowl is about something they never have claimed to have--I wished it was full of Ipswich clams, not little cherrystones or whatever they were. They were fresh and tasty--just not what I dream of when I close my eyes and think about clams.

                                          1. re: jillyju

                                            I think they are manila clams.

                                            Former Swampscott resident here.

                                            1. re: rworange

                                              Swampscott? Go Big Blue!

                                              And yes, I think you're right that they were manila clams.

                                              1. re: jillyju

                                                They are. That is what they raise.

                                        1. re: Robusto72

                                          For an East Coaster, I'd go to Tadich Grill if you want sit down formal service, and Swan's if you just want a quick bite at a lunch counter with some classic throwback crab/shrimp salads covered in thousand island, fresh lump meat, etc.

                                          Pacific Cafe is another real California style place that can be a fun time if you have someone to wait in line with, but I haven't been in a while so I couldn't say how the fish itself is.

                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                            There are no quick bites at Swan's most days, if you count the wait in line.