At first, I wanted mooncakes then I changed my mind for gelato. When we left Chinatown and entered North Beach, the first restaurant that caught our attention was Steps of Rome Caffe. As Jess and I looked over the menu, a honeyed-tongue host came out to greet us. He called us “bella” and as flattering as that was, we decided to go elsewhere.
What seemed to be several blocks of Chinatown and Little Italy became a blur as my highschool girlfriend and I hastily moved from points A, B, etc, as we hunted for a dessert joint. We passed by many, but the bakeries and gelateria we came across accept cash only. Therefore, I now have a beef (filet mignon sized “beef”) against all of those places. I don’t know why they deny customers the convenience of paying with credit instead of cash.
Impatient for dessert, we decided to return to the Little Italy restaurant we came across first. “Elsewhere” became Steps of Rome. We both wanted gelato and luckily, the caffe had a few selections. Unluckily, we were turned off. It just so happened that we were seated by the gelato fridge that was emitting a fusty smell. There went our appetite for gelato, and there went my imagination as I thought of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.
Our trek through Chinatown and Little Italy left us drained and in need of sugar, so we decided to stay put and consider the dessert menu. After much perusing, I chose the lemon sorbet and Jess opted for a tiramisu. Luckily, the sorbet was not made in house and came from a hermetically sealed package. The host showed the package. It was imported from Italy. Grazie a dio! However, I was concerned for my darling friend whose dessert was “made fresh.” Oh dio mio… I almost imagined Gordon Ramsay coming out of the kitchen yelling, “Stop! Don’t eat that!” But that didn’t happen. What did happen is that I helped finish the tiramisu. I figured if she comes down with something, so would I. You’d think my public health education would have taught me better, but noooo… I’m such a martyr.
I’m aware that my review is coming off negative and there’s a good reason for that. Despite the attentiveness of our server, the fact that there was evidence of inappropriate food storage makes me question how the establishment is now being operated. According to its website, the restaurant first opened in 1990. Twenty one years have passed since its opening and that’s enough time for a change of hands or an owner to stop caring. Steps of Rome Caffe is in a desirable spot and for many hungry tourists, a poor experience in a restaurant can be easily shrugged off since they really won’t have to try that eatery again. That’s unfortunate because someone has to tell a once good restaurant like Steps of Rome to step up because they’re doing their loyal fans a disservice. Losing a customer would be easy… just across is The Stinking Rose and in the 0.620 sq mi of the North Beach neighborhood, there are more than 50 other restaurants to choose from.