The Enchanted City Across the Bay


I HAVE A FRIEND with whom I rarely spend time. When I was younger, we’d get together regularly, and I’d marvel at how exciting she could make life seem. But these days, I’m so busy. I see her from afar and she looks great, but I don’t stop to visit. That’s going to end.

I’m talking about San Francisco, of course. And I know I’m not alone. How often do we cross the San Francisco Bay for dinner, a show or some shopping? I decided to do this the other night, and the timing couldn’t have been better. One of my favorite restaurants was celebrating a landmark anniversary.

My first memories of A. Sabella’s go back to the 1970s TV show “Streets of San Francisco.” The famous ship’s wheel that says “Fisherman’s Wharf” is close to the spot where the Sabellas sold fish back in 1887. Today, their restaurant is still family-owned and that must be some kind of record. But the secret to success starts with an “s” — great seafood, impeccable service and stunning scenery.

Sitting at our window to the world, we were mesmerized by the throngs of tourists coming and going as ships of all sizes dotted the waterfront. We dipped warm sourdough into rich, steamy bowls of cioppino and chowder, and sipped our wine as we celebrated. The owner came by to share some stories. Antone Sabella started working in the restaurant at age 12, cracking crab. He and his sister, Laureen, are the fourth-generation owners now, and well aware of the part they play in the city’s history. They lovingly blend old family recipes with new, lighter fare, to keep up with the changing trends. And it works. On the night we were there, the restaurant was full, as soft conversation complimented the warm glow in the room. I knew then and there that the friendship I’d lost with the city by the bay — had been rekindled.

PHONE TAG: The crier has been alerted to yet another scam in the hills. Reader Laura Thomas says someone stole her phone number in order to sign up for a service called One Source Networks. It wasn’t a lot of money, but getting the phone company to delete the charge was no great joy.

“I don’t think there is any way for us to prevent this from happening except to keep a vigilant eye on our phone bill and refuse to pay bogus charges,” she writes.

CRIME WATCH: Reader Reenie Raschke was ripped off the other day. It sounds like a tongue twister, but it really happened. A woman came into her Montclair photography business and asked to use the bathroom. Raschke thought it was odd, but kindly agreed, keeping a watchful eye on her cameras and purse. Later that day, she got a call from her credit card company. Somehow, the woman had stolen her card and gone straight to San Francisco for a shopping spree that included a new Coach purse. Raschke was steamed. She wouldn’t even buy that for herself, let alone give it to a stranger!

POETRY IN MOTION: Women love a man who writes poetry. And local dad Stewart Florsheim has just won top honors for his new book of poetry called “The Short Fall from Grace.” This is Florsheim’s third book, including an anthology of poetry by children of Holocaust survivors. (His parents were refugees from Hitler’s Germany.)

Florsheim will be reading from his newest collection at the Rockridge Library on July 15. Find out more on his Web site at stewartflorsheim.com.

DOG DAYS: I’ve seen lots of dogs in the village, but never one that looked like a bear. There it was, holding court outside Montclair Barbers the other day, in the lap of owner Daniel Tran — who just happens to cut hair inside. Yes, he clipped his Pomeranian to look like a teddy bear and it got me thinking. If he can make a dog look adorable, imagine what he can do with a human?

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