Noe Valley Voice March 2008

Short Takes

A Bigger Bank for Your Buck

For many Noe Valley account holders, the "Someday" theme in Wells Fargo advertisements invoked their wish that the bank would evolve beyond its limited space at 4023 24th Street into a full-size, full-service retail branch. The Someday has arrived, and on March 22, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wells Fargo will celebrate the opening of a new, much bigger branch at 4045 24th Street, in the site formerly occupied by Rite Aid.

Opened as a business center over a decade ago, the former space was once just an automatic teller. Then came three live tellers. That number will be increased to eight at the new space, along with the installation of much-needed desks and a source for traveler's checks.

The public open house on the 22nd will feature refreshments and, for customers' kids, a grownup-sized mascot dubbed Jack the Dog, familiar from the coin toss at 49ers games. A few days earlier, on March 17 from 8 to 9 a.m., the new branch will host a grand-opening breakfast and ribbon-cutting for neighborhood merchants, with Supervisor Bevan Dufty and representatives of the mayor's office in attendance. For more information on both events, contact Chris Hammond at 623-7680.

Those Wascally Wabbits

On the morning of Saturday, March 22--the day before Easter--hundreds of candy-filled eggs will be secreted at the recently renovated Noe Courts park at 24th and Douglass streets. Neighborhood kids are invited to start their madcap Egg Hunt at 10 a.m. There will be a table for decorating eggs, as well as a jellybean-guessing contest, and treats and coffee from Noe Valley Bakery & Bread Company. Participants can also try guessing the real identity of the human-sized Easter Bunny (hint: she's on loan from the Coldwell Banker warren).

The sponsors of the event, which may become annual after this debut, are those who fill the baskets at the Noe Valley Association, including B.J. Droubi, Eric Alexanderson, Just for Fun, Janet Moyer Landscaping, and Small Frys. For more information, call Droubi at 920-8232.

Hear from the Hopefuls

The Noe Valley Democratic Club will sponsor a debate among candidates for the State Senate's 3rd District on Thursday, March 20, at Bethany United Methodist Church.

At press time, three candidates had pledged to appear: incumbent State Senator Carole Migden, State Assemblyman Mark Leno, and Joe Alioto Veronese, a member of the San Francisco Police Commission and grandson of former San Francisco mayor Joseph L. Alioto. Also expected to attend was candidate Joe Nation, a climate-change adviser for the firm Environ International.

Scott Wiener, chairman of the San Francisco Democratic Party, will moderate the debate, which starts at 7 p.m. Each candidate will have five minutes to state his or her campaign goals. After that segment, Wiener will question each of the candidates and then turn over the questioning to the audience.

The 3rd District covers Marin Country, portions of Sonoma County, and about half of San Francisco, including Noe Valley and the Mission. The church is located at 1268 Sanchez Street at Clipper. To find out about the Democratic Club, call Andy Fleischman, 641-5838.

St. Paddy's in the Hood

Greenbergs at 1600 Dolores Street may have dropped the "O'" in its name years ago, but the bar is still serving corned beef and cabbage all day on St. Patrick's Day, Monday, March 17. Similar fare will be offered at Noe's bar at 1199 Church Street, starting at noon and embellished by potato salad and macaroni and cheese.

To the west, along the "merrie kilometer" which is Downtown Noe Valley, the Dubliner (3838 24th Street) and its sister Valley Tavern (4054 24th Street) will feature their own corned beef and cabbage, potato salad, and rolls, but alas, no live music--except for a possible celebrant inspired to song or bagpipes. Telephone communication may be noisy, but here are the numbers: Greenbergs: 695-9216; Noe's: 282-4007; the Dubliner: 826-2279; the Valley Tavern: 285-0674. Drink wisely, drive safely. Erin go bragh!

Raise Your Green Thumb

How does your garden grow? Gorgeously enough to qualify as one of the gardens on the third annual Noe Valley Garden Tour, scheduled for May 10? Then please contact Madeline Pfeiffer of the Friends of Noe Valley (before April 1), so she can take a peek at your unique patch of green.

The six gardens chosen this year will be based on location, uniqueness, design, and overall beauty, say the Friends. The group is also looking for volunteers, to sell and check tickets and direct tour-goers to each garden. Tickets to the May event, the day before Mother's Day, will cost $12 for adults 13 and up, with proceeds going toward the creation of new neighborhood mini-parks. Gardeners and volunteers can contact Pfeiffer at

The Pierre Project

If you come by Martha & Bros. Coffee on Church at Duncan Street between 2 and 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 9, you'll have an opportunity to witness art in action and find out, if you don't already know, where Pierre Valley is.

Thanks to local painter Todd Berman, you'll actually be in the middle of both, as part of his "Pierre Valley Neighborhood Art Project." That's pronounced "Pee-airy Valley," a name that some folks are applying to what we used to call Upper Noe Valley.

The area along Church from Duncan to 30th streets, says Berman, is "in the process of creating its own identity, and is a great place to meet with friends from Noe Valley proper and Bernal Heights." That's why he wants to make a supersized painting, based on artwork and comments created by those who join him at Martha's. "People who stop by can draw a little portrait of themselves in the neighborhood or write down ideas about what Pierre Valley makes them think of."

Following the event, the result will be on display in Berman's home studio in the southern Mission (e-mail or call 595-0337). If the "collective vision" painting is later sold, he says, part of the proceeds will be donated to a local non-profit. Berman, who has done similar projects in other neighborhoods, assures drop-in artists that "no skill is needed, and stick figures are okay."

Prizes, Pasta, and More

Pomodoro, the Italian eatery located locally at 24th and Noe streets, has dropped the "Pasta" from its corporate name (there are 42 other Pomodoros, throughout California and Arizona). But the restaurant has added some excitement outside its new menu (which now includes much more than pasta, the owner says, hence the name change).

In December, founder and chef Adriano Paganini, who lives on Liberty Street, launched a series of competitions for Pomodoro's Northern California customers. The Impress the Chef contest, whose finals take place in Pleasant Hill on March 8, asked home cooks to submit stories about their favorite Italian dish to their local Pomodoro. Tim Kirsch, who wrote about a casserole prepared with fontina cheese, was chosen first-prize winner in the 24th Street Pomodoro contest. Meanwhile, Hill Street resident Melody Fassino picked up the top prize at the San Bruno Pomodoro for her tale about stracciatella soup. (The San Bruno restaurant was the one closest to Fassino's workplace.)

In February, Paganini announced a new contest, this one a sweepstakes called "The Taste of Milan." The winner will travel to the chef's hometown of Milan, Italy, bearing $10,000 in spending money. Other prizes include a Vespa, cooking lessons from Paganini, or a dinner party for 10.

The sweepstakes deadline is April 30, and you can enter up to 10 times a day at the restaurant (by filling out a short form), or once a day online at No purchase is necessary.

Litwak's Literature

His many devoted students may wonder, when they see San Francisco State professor Leo Litwak waiting for coffee at Martha's on 24th Street whether he's fueling up for his next exercise in creative writing. Litwak, a Chattanooga Street resident, will travel across town to the Jewish Community Library on March 27 to receive the prestigious Anne and Robert Cowan Writers' Award, designated for those "who have made an exceptional impact in the Bay Area through their uniquely Jewish perspective."

A prize-winning creator of novels, short stories, and memoirs, Litwak has been teaching English literature at State for more than 30 years. A reception at the Library, at 1835 Ellis Street, starts at 6:30 p.m. and is free to the public. It will be followed at 7:30 p.m. by a conversation between Litwak and Library director Jonathan Schwartz. For more information call 567-3327.

Not Just Garden-Variety

Helping to green up the Cow Palace at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show March 12 to 16 are a pair of gardens created by Noe Valley landscapers Deanna Glory and Jonathan Silverman. The gardens are among the 25 display gardens in the show, chosen for their innovation, beauty, and fit with this year's theme, "Live Beautifully Live Outdoors!"

The proprietor of Deanna Glory Landscape Design on Sanchez Street has fashioned a backyard space that features native trees, shrubs, and flowers; a waterfall and pond; and an arrangement of seating that allows for the enjoyment of films projected on the rear of the adjoining residence. The equally dramatic "Poly-Patio" crafted by Silverman, who lives above Le Zinc on 24th Street, uses recycled wood and plastic products for its streams, pathways, and gates, as well as living succulents and exotic plants from South America.

Tickets and further information about the show are available at local nurseries, by phone at 800-569-2832, and online at

Eat Emerald

You can't get closer to the festive community spirit of the Old Country than the St. Patrick's Irish Dinner Feast served up by the Men of St. Paul's Parish on March 15, at 6 p.m., at the Mario Farana Parish Hall at 1690 Church Street.

The parish organization meets monthly and raises funds and provides services for St. Paul's School and other worthy causes. For 48 of its 57 years, the group has cooked up an annual Irish Dinner, and it will again include corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, Irish soda bread, and a special dessert. This will all be enjoyed to the accompaniment of Kristan Willits and her three-piece traditional Celtic band, and step-dancing by the Butler Fearon O'Connor School of Irish Dance (which holds classes at the Noe Valley Ministry).

Tickets, $15 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under, in advance, are available at the Rectory at 221 Valley Street. For more information, call 648-7538.

Sharing Their Strength

Bring your appetite, and your wallet, for a benefit against hunger. (You can also bring some good-natured irony.) Share Our Strength (SOS) is an anti-hunger organization celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and its 17th annual Taste of the Nation event, on Sunday, April 6, at Acme Chophouse.

The benefit features dinner prepared by a bevy of chefs from all over the country, including Noe Valley's own Chris Cosentino of Incanto on Church Street. He'll be joined by his good friend and Food Network Iron Chef winner Michael Symon of restaurants Lola and Lolita in Cleveland, Ohio. Others from San Francisco are Elizabeth Falkner of Citizen Cake in Hayes Valley, and Traci Des Jardins of Jardiniere, Acme Chophouse, and Mijita.

Tickets are $250 for a four-course dinner and a reception with specially prepared appetizers, or $300 for the dinner, reception, and a VIP cocktail reception. The extra $50 gives guests the opportunity to mingle with the great chefs who are providing the feast. A live auction is also part of the festivities.

As the benefit's host for the second year, Des Jardins says, "I believe so strongly in the mission of [SOS]. How can hunger still exist in a nation as wealthy and prosperous as our own?"

One hundred percent of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to fight childhood hunger and support local grant recipients Food Runners and Sports 4 Kids. Since its beginnings, SOS has raised over $200 million to support organizations that feed hungry children.

For more information or to order tickets, call 1-877-26-TASTE or visit www Acme Chophouse is located at Willie Mays Plaza, Third and King streets.

This month's Short Takes were written by Jeff Kaliss, Olivia Boler, and Sally Smith.