Upon walking into Scoma’s, the circa-1965 seafood landmark on Pier 47 in San Francisco, one immediately notes the dated interior of post-Kennedy restaurant décor. The combination of medium and dark woods, red vinyl buffet chairs and general architectural flow-through is reminiscent of lounges and coffee shops of the pre-Aquarian age. You almost expect the Rat Pack to saunter through on their way to some private smoke-filled room to enjoy surf and turf, martinis, and perhaps a little Marilyn.
Look beyond the initially obvious. Yes, the tables are crowded together. But note the view from your table through large, single-pane glass windows. What you see beyond the structure’s walls is the San Francisco you either traveled so far to visit or the one that keeps you there as “home.” Bringing yourself back from the panorama of water, small yachts, sailboats, and skyline, settle in and ready yourself for succulent seafood, local vegetables, fresh mozzarella and Painted Hills natural beef. This is food that will make you forget the less-than sumptuous ambiance.
Once a coffee shop on Fisherman’s Wharf, Scoma’s was reincarnated after purchase by Al and Joe Scoma. This view, this position on the pier and water, this real estate should never have been for mere coffee, sandwiches and donuts. The location was prime for creation of a great San Francisco culinary tradition that is a 350-seat restaurant serving about half a million diners each year. Armed with their mother’s recipe collection, the brothers’ vision became reality and is now one of the highest volume independent restaurants in the United States.
As seafood is off-loaded directly from fishing boats every morning from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., the public can watch the beginnings of daily fresh catch preparation at the restaurant’s Fish Receiving Station. Scoma’s cutters inspect the seafood to ensure top quality. They then fillet, trim and prepare each fish for the journey to stove and plate.
Just how much fish does an authentic fresh-catch restaurant of Scoma’s caliber utilize? Well, according to Purchasing Director Kelly Bennett, 500 pounds of crab, 50 pounds of salmon, 70 pounds of clams, 85 pounds of scallops, 50 pounds of shrimp, 40 pounds of Ahi tuna, and 100 pounds each of prawns, calamari, and swordfish are fed to guests each day. All of that plus 175 loaves of San Francisco sourdough bread hit white-tablecloth dining tables before each night’s closing.
We started our journey into the menu with a sampling of several appetizers. Fried Oysters with Wasabi Aioli, Calamari Fritti, and Mini Crabcakes were very pleasantly presented – and even more so – very pleasantly ingested. To counterbalance the fried seafood starters, we were served a Caprese Salad with house grown tomatoes and Black and Blue Ahi with a hydroponic Watercress Salad.
For the main course, house-made Lobster Ravioli in a Lemon and Saffron Cream Sauce with spinach and fresh tomatoes was served alongside Swordfish Piccata. Improvements simply could not be made.
For dessert, and you must leave room, a wide selection of decadence is available. But you must have the house specialty, a Tiramisu to die for. Served in a coffee cup with a chocolate spoon, it wonderfully closes a meal of any of Scoma’s cuisine.
Scoma’s is located at the west end of Fisherman’s Wharf at Pier 47 on Al Scoma Way. Complimentary valet parking is available, subject to availability.
Enjoy Scoma’s at home by cooking Scoma’s Crab Cakes.