Giovanni ‘Gianni’ Giotta, Caffe Trieste founder, dies at 96

Jun 15, 2016 1104

Giovanni "Gianni" Giotta, founder of Caffe Trieste and one of North Beach's great personalities, died Saturday at 96. He was born in 1920 in Rovigno on the Istrian peninsula, a town that now belongs to Croatia. He came from a fishing family and began accompanying his father on the boats when he was just 6, graduating to merchant marine ships by the age of 15. He met his wife, Ida, when he was 19 and she was 15, and the couple immigrated to San Francisco in 1951.

Mr. Giotta washed windows for the first few years in San Francisco and then opened Caffe Trieste at Grant Avenue and Vallejo Street in 1956. Many of the neighborhood's Italian bars served coffee at the time, but Mr. Giotta was inspired by the coffee shops of Trieste, a city in northeast Italy not far from his hometown. By many accounts, Caffe Trieste was the first espresso bar in San Francisco, if not the entire West Coast.

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