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Jul 27, 2011 09:14 PM

Prego [San Francisco]

This is a strange question. When I was young and living in the Bay Area (we're talking around thirty years ago) there was a restaurant called Prego on Union Street that was all the rage. It was probably the first Italian restaurant that wasn't of the red sauce variety. I loved it, and I'm sure it's long gone. For those who remember it, which Italian restaurant in SF most closely approximates this style of cuisine?

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    1. Prego's not so long gone, it didn't close until 2006. I think the closest in SF these days might be the new wave of bar / pizza places, such as Zero Zero and Beretta.

      It played a small part in California pizza history: when Wolfgang Puck was looking to knock off Chez Panisse Cafe, he found Ed LaDou working at Prego, and hired him as opening pizza chef for Spago. LaDou later developed the original menu for California Pizza Kitchen.

      Zero Zero
      826 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107

      2 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        When I was there so many years ago, the big thing was the pasta. I don't remember their having pizza, although maybe they did. It was a kind of small revolution, because it was really the first time you saw things like agnoletti and other large, stuffed pastas in cream or cheese-based sauces. Maybe it's commonplace now, but then it was totally new and different.

        I remember I had my 21st birthday there. I was with the prettiest girl I'd ever dated, with the great food and a ten year old bottle of wine (an unheard of luxury), and thinking that life doesn't get any better. And you know what? It hasn't.

        1. re: MarkC

          I think the best house-made stuffed pastas in SF these days are at Perbacco, but otherwise it's nothing like Prego.

          230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

      2. I was the first waiter hired at Prego in 1981. I worked there for 10 years and saw the craziness up front. The concept was lifted by Larry Mindel form a Milanese trattoria named Mezza Luna. He even shipped one of the waiters back. Prego had pasta, pizza, grilled items and antipasti. One of the pastas on the opening menu was "Lasagnette al Tartufo Bianco". Wide ribbons in a cream sauce with fresh white truffles shaved table side. It was a seminal restaurant in San Francisco. After Mindel sold the vision went out the back door.

        1 Reply
        1. re: alexinmarin

          It was some of the best Italian food in the city in the early days. I found it bizarre that they didn't have bread.

        2. Here's the post of my last meal at Prego in its final week (2005),