In San Francisco, there’s never a shortage of good restaurants and bars. Being the cultural mecca that the city is, this means delicious and ethnically-diverse variety of food options. This edition of Durwin Chung Chronicles, we decided to feature a business from a very prominent figure in Nob Hill. Call her the grand dame or whatever you want. To us, she’s the Comeback Queen. Meet Luisa Hanson as we feature her newest business venture yet- Luisa’s Pizza & Pasta. Located in iconic California St, the less-than-a-month old business is getting a lot of traction from both neighborhood residents and visiting tourists who aim to snap a picture of the cable cars passing by. From the outside, it looked small but once you come in, the restaurant can accommodate 55 people, front (outside) seating a la Venezia or Roma, back seating, a wine bar including beers on tap and another wine bar in the back.
Hello, Luisa! Thank you for having us today.
Luisa: Can you guess how old I am?
No but please tell us!
Luisa: I am 87 years old. (chuckles)
You’re definitely a seasoned entrepreneur. What got that started?
Luisa: Since 1959! I come from 3 generations of entrepreneurs.
Why food? Why the restaurant industry?
Luisa: My passion for cooking stem from growing up with my Grandmother who is my namesake. I’ve seen her cook, she’s trained me to cook. I didn’t get to play outside with the other kids because I was learning my craft!
With all that controversy a couple of years back about you and some Mission protesters and you buying out a well-loved location, you definitely came back! Are there always unexpected things happening when you’re in the business?
Luisa: I’ve been in the business too long. I have consulted for, built and ran a combination of 37 restaurants including my newest one, Luisa’s Pizza & Pasta. I have gone through a lot of unexpected things including a Chapter 11 years back- which led to me losing some of my properties. But I’m back and looking to invest my time and effort in the restaurant. It will be my last venture in the Italian restaurant world. My future businesses will be more towards tapas, wine and bar.
You are both the owner and Executive Chef, is it hard to juggle?
Luisa: No. No one else can make changes in my kitchen and recipes. I want to personally supervise my Sous Chefs to make sure the quality of the ingredients, the accuracy of the system and of course, to make sure that the food we serve is authentic Italian.
What can we expect from Luisa’s Pizza & Pasta?
Luisa: You can expect a Luisa-style welcome, amazing food, the freshest ingredients and great service. I like accommodating requests for whatever my guests are craving. Call in advance or opt for Chef’s Choice where you tell me what you’d like and I will love to plan a full menu of appetizer, main, dessert and wine pairing for you.
That about wrapped up my visit. Luisa- the gracious hostess that she is opened a bottle of champagne that we shared during the interview. She had also served me her steamed mussels, Margherita pizza and Fetuccine Bolgnese- all of which were delicious! Conclusion: Before you jump on whichever side of the bandwagon regarding this polarizing figure, we say you try the food first. It may change your mind.
Luisa’s Pizza & Pasta | Fine Italian Cuisine, Wine Bar & Private Events
1550 California St San Francisco, CA 94109
Happy Hour and Free Delivery!