Visiting San Francisco FAQ

Night shot of Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco
Night shot of Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have lived in the Bay Area for less than 10 years, so by no means I know it all. But I feel it would help to collect the most asked questions I get from San Francisco visitors:

Q: What’s the best Italian restaurant in San Francisco?

A: I get this question a lot, predictably. My favorites in alphabetical order:

  • Acquerello delivers a formal dining experience of superior quality and service.
  • La Ciccia is a true neighborhood gem of a restaurant delivering Sardinian fare that is up to par with the original stuff.
  • Cotogna is a relatively new entrant on the scene and an instant success among foodies.
  • Farina e Focaccia has established itself as a must visit for fresh pasta and Genovese focaccia lovers.
  • Perbacco features Piemontese cuisine of consistent quality in a classy and relaxed  ambiance. Try the agnolotti!
  • Quince, top of the line. Period.

Q: What is the best pizza in San Francisco?

A: Pizza seems to polarize people, maybe cause everyone has a very personal opinion of what a great pizza should be like. Anyway, here’s my very personal list:

  • A16 delivers top wood-fired owen pizza with seasonal toppings.
  • Delfina has established itself as a solid spot in the SF pizza scene.
  • Zero Zero has got to be my personal favorite. Choose the Margherita Extra with buffalo mozzarella.
  • [Special mention] Pizzaiolo is technically not in San Francisco. Well worth the trip to the Temescal restaurant row in Oakland.

Q: What is the best spot for a drink?

A: So many choices, so little time.  This one depends on a number of criteria. I go by the bartender’s craft as the primary factor. San Francisco is home to some of the best. Again, in alphabetical order:

  • 25 Lusk, 70s ambiance and a nicely laid out bar.
  • Bourbon & Branch‘s bar tenders are as good at it gets. It is a speakeasy, so you need to call for a door password.
  • Burritt, a nice new spot in the Crescent Hotel.
  • Nihon has a top notch whiskey stock. The location is out of the way and the ambiance cosy and stylish.
  • Toronado, if you are into beer this is your spot.

Q: Is it worth visiting Pier 39?

A: In a word, no.

Q: Is it worth visiting Alcatraz? 

A: In a word, yes.

Enjoy your stay!


Want to become more productive? Work in slots

Human physical and mental abilities have not changed much for thousand of years, yet you are required to be tens or hundreds of times more productive than your parents were. And the pace of the demands on our time are not likely to slow down in the future.

So we have invented the discipline of time management, knowing all too well that it is not time that needs managing, but rather our attention. We need to adapt the way we work to squeeze out more output out of each unit of time and build a moat to stem the tide of (digital) distractions.

The single most effective change that has worked for me is also one of the easiest to implement. I have divided up my time in slots. There are vertical slots (i.e. days of the week or of the month) and horizontal slots (i.e. hours in a day).

Vertical slots are allocated to work projects, domains or themes. For example Mondays are for Project A, Tuesdays are for Accounting, Wednesdays are for Sales and Marketing, Thursdays and Fridays are for Project B, etc.

Horizontal slots are for individual tasks, routine or one-off. For example 7-9 am writing and editing, 9 to 11 am phone calls and email, 11 to 1 pm meetings, 1 to 3 pm project management, etc.

The resulting matrix helps me allocate activity more effectively, procrastinate less and, crucially, stay focused and away from distractions. Try it!

Me in 2005: the resume infographic that wasn’t

Infographics are all the rage these days. They are produced by companies large and small, agencies, market research firms… Everybody. They are also being used as personal branding and job-search tools. There are even applications that create infographics out of resume data!

Well, while doing some housekeeping on my files I came across a couple of documents that I created back in 2005, when I still was on the job market. I did not know that then, but they were in fact job search infographics: a Personal Blueprint and a Resume Timeline. :)

I never actually sent them to employers. I remember showing them to a good friend from business school, someone whose opinion I trusted, and he advised me not to use them. He thought they were too “cute” and “gimmicky” and were going to hurt my chances. So I shelved them.

Maybe I was just too early to market.

Who in the world gets the best broadband access?

Any strategic consideration about the development of web-based applications in a specific market must take into consideration broadband penetration rates and the performance of last mile public connectivity. This is especially true of applications that use large amounts of bandwidth capacity such Broadband and OTT TV, streaming and online gaming. So if you are looking for good worldwide ISP performance data, one source should be the Akamai State of the Internet Report. In their words:

Each quarter, Akamai publishes a quarterly “State of the Internet” report. This report includes data gathered across Akamai’s global server network about attack traffic, average & maximum connection speeds, Internet penetration and broadband adoption, and mobile usage, as well as trends seen in this data over time.

You can download the free quarterly report here, and also use a fun visualization tool to chart network performance in different countries. Who in the world gets the best broadband access?  Find out.

Akamai State of the Internet chart

How is BAIA doing?

For the past 5 years, I have been involved with BAIA, Business Association Italy America. I am currently a member of the board and have been its Executive Director in 2009 and 2010. BAIA is a nonprofit association of professionals, entrepreneurs, students and business people who operate between Italy and the USA.

I am often asked “how is BAIA doing?”. The nonprofit just celebrated its 5th anniversary, so I took a step back and took a moment to look at what we have done lately. By all accounts, BAIA is going strong:

This massive amount of work has been accomplished through the efforts of a dedicated team of pro-bono volunteers (BAIA has no paid staff and every member of BAIA’s Governance and Board is required to volunteer time to run BAIA programs). Most of all, it has been the result of terrific team effort. It is so rare to find such level of team performance in a professional environment. The fact that those who contributed to it do so for free makes the results all the more remarkable.

10 Tips for a healthier you

Tips for a healthier youIt is that time of the year. Days are getting longer, the sun is getting shinier and that layer of winter fat around the hips is harder to conceal without a raincoat. Friends start getting on a diet, joining a gym, hitting the trail.

Diets do not work, or rather, they never worked for me. The gym is boring and the chances to stick with it, slim. Here’s what has worked for me, simple ideas for a healthier, fitter, less stressed life:

1. Rekindle your college passions

Remember how much you enjoyed participating in sports in college? As much as watching them, right? No need to reinvent the wheel. Whether it was soccer, synchronized swimming, karate or tennis, there is no better, easier way to get moving again than picking up where you left. No learning curve, no need for beginner lessons and plenty of old buddies to share your passion with. Plus the added psychological bonus of feeling free to pretend you are still 21, living in a dorm and without a worry in a world.  Continue reading “10 Tips for a healthier you”