San Francisco's first Italian Americans flocked to the Excelsior, not North Beach

Nov 24, 2021 413

BY: Natalie Mead

The first floor of the Italian-American Social Club has scarlet velvet wallpaper, dark wood paneling and a jukebox in the corner. A U.S. flag, an Italian flag and mostly black-and-white photos hang on the walls. Brass chandeliers with red polka-dot sconces and carved decorations frame the long, wooden bar. On one side is the restaurant’s dining room, which has a handful of tables with checkered tablecloths. The dining room is smaller than the bar.

“Every single place is different,” said the club’s manager Julie Clima, “except here.” Clima and I sat in the dining room, at 25 Russia Ave. in the Excelsior, which was empty. The bar was empty, too. There was just one other staff person in the back hall of the building, setting up chairs for a weekend event booking. 

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