Photo: Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE
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A San Francisco restaurant in the North Beach neighborhood has sparked controversy with a series of signs featuring provocative messages and rants in a mix of English and Italian.
The messages posted in the windows of Trattoria Pinocchio call San Francisco a cesspool, suggest a race war is inevitable and question the gender of former first lady Michelle Obama. “Is Michel (sic) Obama a women or a man???” it reads.
Another sign attacks the media and refers to many outlets, including CNN, MSNBC and CBS, as fake.
The Italian restaurant that opened at 401 Columbus in 2001 is closing its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to KRON 4. The restaurant’s phone number and website are both no longer working.
SFGATE was unable to reach the owner and confirm that he created the signs, but he told KRON the messages are an expression of freedom of speech.
The owner of a neighboring business called the signs a “disgrace” and “repulsive.”
“A lot of it is hate speech,” said Vince, who asked that his last name not be used. “I had nothing to do with him.”
Dan Macchiarini, president of the North Beach Business Association called the owner of Trattoria Pinnochi an “extreme individualist.”
“He’s anti-social and anti-community in everything he has done,” Macchiarini said. “He hasn’t been a part of the community in any way.”
Macchiarini called the signs “racist” and “bigoted” and said they do not represent the neighborhood “in any way.”
A San Francisco resident commented on the signs in a posting on Yelp. “This is just a review of the owner and all of his racist propaganda that is spewed incoherently all over the building, it is truly disheartening,” wrote Brye L. “There is no way that we will ever step foot in this building while this owner occupies this space. Move along.”
District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin told KRON the owner of the establishment is known by local residents “to be unhinged.”
“Nobody in the neighborhood is sad to see him go,” Peskin said.
According to the Trattoria Pinocchio Facebook page, the restaurant “is owned and run by Giovanni Zocca and his wife Maria.” Zocca immigrated from Sicily to New York when he was 17 years old before moving to Monterey, where he was a fisherman and worked in restaurants.
Amy Graff is the news editor at SFGATE. Email her: email@example.com.