WHAT BEGAN as a brainstorming session among bar room buddies about what the neighborhood needed most has just come to life: its newest eatery, Presidio Pizza Co.
Chef Frank Bumbalo recently partnered with Kevin Kynoch and John Miles, who own the Fishbowl, the popular watering hole two doors south, to transform the former Frankie’s Bohemian Cafe on the corner of Divisadero and Pine.
“We’re here every day. We live and work here. We know what the neighborhood needs: a casual place where people can get a good slice,” says Bumbalo, who lives and manages a building just blocks away from the new pizza parlor.
“We really love the neighborhood and the people here,” he adds, “but it’s not always a family-friendly place.” Bumbalo wants to change that by creating a place where parents can have a beer or a glass of wine alongside kids having their birthday parties.
THE MENU: Presidio Pizza offers some starters, salads, sandwiches and a calzone, but true to its name, the menu concentrates on pizza. Slices are priced at $3 to $4; whole pies from $18 to $26. In addition to a gluten-free option, there are three varieties: thin crust round pies, focaccia-style square pizzas and hybrid thinner square pies called “the Grandma” topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and house-made pesto.
There’s a specialty “Frankie” pizza loaded with spicy sausage and peppers named after Bumbalo, but it’s the Grandma that gets his vote. “It was my favorite thing to eat in New York,” he says, recalling his Brooklyn roots. “I’m Sicilian, but sometimes that crust is a bit thick.”
Bumbalo is a California Culinary Academy grad whose eclectic resume includes stints at Adagio, Postrio and the de Young Museum. But it was while working at the General’s Daughter in Sonoma that he says he first truly embraced California cuisine. “Now I buy as sustainable as I possibly can — all tomatoes grown in California and picked and processed within two hours,” he says. And future plans include incorporating local line-caught fish and house-cured bacon into the menu.
THE LOOK: The look and feel of the place is more sleek and spare than in the Frankie’s Bohemian days. Gone are the long battered wooden bar, Czechoslovakian tchockes and iconic sign proclaiming: “We are 6,303 miles from Prague.” But Bumbalo maintained a reverence for preserving the past when refurbishing the 100-something-year-old building that originally operated as a barn.
To save money — and have a little fun in the process — he invited friends with hammers and axes to help out in the early stages of renovation. ”We went through four layers of walls,” he says. “When we got to the ceiling, an entire restaurant booth fell out onto the floor — along with burlap sacks, pocket knives, tools — some of the stuff probably a century old.”
The wiring and plumbing are new, but the wooden counters are fashioned from some of the original salvaged wood, the walls are the original redwood and the floors were also painstakingly restored.
IT’S OPEN LATE: Late-night weekend revelers will be especially relieved to know that crusts will be flung at Presidio Pizza well into the wee hours. It will open at 11 a.m. daily and stay open until 11 p.m. from Sunday to Wednesday; until midnight on Thursday; and until 2:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
PHOTOGRAPHS by Erik Anderson from the opening
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