San Francisco has many fine neighborhoods, all very different from one another. There is one, though, that always maintains its identity. It seems untouched by time, and you can just feel the layers of history piled on one another here. I’m talking about the North Beach District. There’s much to enjoy—you can have a cold beer upstairs at Vesuvio’s, or have a hot date at Tosca’s, or enjoy some Foccacia at Ligueria’s Bakery. In the heart of North Beach, is a statement of a building: The Sentinel Building aka Columbus Tower. You can’t miss it, it demands your attention; a flat iron building, clad in white tile and copper. It’s nothing short of grand – and perfectly placed.
Being a film nerd, I’ve come to love the film history trivia associated with this building. Film director and vintner, Francis Ford Coppola bought the building in 1972, and made the Sentinel his headquarters for his film company, American Zoetrope. It blows my mind that such movies as The Godfather, Apocolypse Now, The Outsiders, and the Conversation were written, edited, and sound mixed here. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall during any of those productions. On the street level is his restaurant, Café Zoetrope. It’s a fun place to dine. On the walls, you can enjoy the mementos from Coppola’s film career. There’s nothing like indulging in delicious Italian food and dissecting his movies. You gotta go!