Shuttered North Beach restaurant plasters polarizing messages in its windows

A San Francisco restaurant is the talk of North Beach, but not because of its cuisine. 

Provocative messages have been taped inside the windows and they are upsetting nearby business owners and residents.

The messages went up mid-week.

Even though the Italian eatery has closed for good, it’s still serving up quite the controversy.

Hand-scrawled messages plastered inside the windows of Trattoria Pinocchio on Columbus Avenue in North Beach and have been upsetting many business owners.

“They were appalled and thought it was very bad and very negative for their businesses,” said Daniel Macchiarini, President of the North Beach Business Association.

Macchiarini, a business owner, says calls of concern started coming in a couple of days ago.

The restaurant messages are written in a mix of Italian and English. They are political, provocative and polarizing.

“Some of the things he’s saying, Clinton, Obama, b***jobs, god I can’t believe this stuff,” said Marilyn Kitagawa, who works at nearby North Beach Restaurant.

One message questions the gender of former first lady Michelle Obama, another suggests a race war is coming, while another calls San Francisco a cesspool. And that’s just a sample.

“It doesn't represent this neighborhood nor the commercial district, North Beach commercial district in any way, shape, or form in terms of what he projected on that window,” said Macchiarini.

Restaurant workers in North Beach say the place was owned by Giovanni Zocca, who we could not reach for comment.

A man who says he knows the owner, says Zocca has been upset about losing his business during the pandemic.

“His sentiment to me was that this has been a tremendous over-reaction and it's killing long-established businesses and the community and I guess that was his way of venting,” said Kim Burrafato, a restaurant worker.

The North Beach Business Association says the restaurant owner was never formally part of the business association, and that the owner’s outspoken politics was alienating.

“And given the signs up there, the signs that I read up there, which are both bigoted and incendiary, I'm glad he was never part of our organization,” said Macchiarini.

So, the loss of the restaurant, or its owner, is not something many are lamenting. 

Since the restaurant is no longer operating, Macchiarini says he’s actively working to have the messages taken down.

Others say they understand the owner’s frustration and respect his first-amendment right to free speech.

“The bottom line is he does have the right to express himself whether or not it offends others,” said Burrafato.