Where to buy Italian stuff: Lucca Ravioli Co.

LuccaAs I’ve mentioned in the past, despite my phenomenally WASPy name, I am in fact fully half Italian-American, and it is really culturally how I identify myself. The bulk of my family lived in Rotterdam, NY, a suburb of the teeming metropolis of Schenectady, just to the west of Albany. If you tell someone you live in Rotterdam, they assume you are either Italian or Polish. Those are the options.

Anyway, when I first moved to San Francisco, it took little time for me to discover the fabulous Lucca Ravioli Co. With its telltale red-white-and-green awning and midcentury logotype signage, it’s a total throwback not only to the days when the Mission was largely Italian and Irish, but to Rotterdam, where time has effectively not moved since that era, either. Cheesenmeat

As the name implies, Lucca’s ravioli are the main draw. Unlike the big, flat squares my family makes, Lucca’s are dainty, two-inch square pillows filled copiously with cheese, spinach or meat. Exquisite Italian cured meats and cheeses abound behind the counter. I was thrilled this last time to see they had caciocavallo, a dry, aged provolone from Sicily, that I adore and get everytime it’s there (which is not always). I also drool in my sleep over dreams of their hot salame and sweet coppa, and the prosciutto is perhaps the best in town. Round that out with an excellent selection of DiCecco pasta (Barilla? Never!); decent, cheap Italian wines; liqueurs from the mundane to the esoteric; cookies, candies and condiments; and even a healthy smattering of Argentine goods. If I had to shop in only one store for the rest of my life, I could probably subsist well and happily on the spoils of Lucca’s shelves.

Lucca Ravioli Co.
1100 Valencia St (at 22nd)

  • Aargh, this is one a of a series of wonderful things people are revealing to me now that I’m leaving!!! I drool for hot salame too. =)

  • Ah, Lucca — one of the staples of my (also half-Italian) childhood. Lucca ravioli weren’t *always* ‘dainty two inch square pillows’ — like candy bars they’ve shrunk over the decades — but even when they were closer to the size of Nonna’s ravioli, they were always far more ‘uniform’ (to quote my late father) in shape and texture.
    Other true Italian delis that comfort my inner ten-year-old-catholic-school-uniformed-self: Molinari’s ( on Columbus in the city and Genova on Telegraph in Oakland.

  • Tejal — I can’t believe you didn’t know about Lucca! A pity. Yet no doubt there will be amazing culinaria, if not so much in the way of Italian fare, in London.
    Dolores — How wonderful — I had no idea that Lucca’s ravioli had changed over the years. I’ve not tried Genova, but will have to make the excursion sometime soon. Molinari’s is great, too, except I don’t love their sandwiches that everyone else raves about. Too oily for my tastes.
    Cheers from one paisano to another. I’m always amazed how many Italian-Americans live here. Here’s hoping they take home the glory this Sunday!