Hillside Supper Club Now Open for Dinner — Permanent Style

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It’s taken a long time and an insane amount of hard work to get to this place, but last night Bernal’s own Hillside Supper Club opened for business in its new, permanent, non-pop-up incarnation at the southwest corner of Precita Park.

Happily, the foodies over at GrubStreet wrote up the backstory (so I don’t have to):

The space has been known as Caffe Cozzolino for about fifteen years, and the owners of that business decided to turn over the reins to up-and-coming chefs Jonathan Sutton and Tony Ferrari, who have long dreamed of opening their own place after years working the lines atAcquerello, Michael Mina, and Jean-George Vongerichten’s J&G Steakhouse in D.C., between them, as well as numerous stints in European kitchens. “We’re extremely excited,” Ferrari tells us. “And the community of Bernal Heights has just been the most amazing place to open a restaurant. It’s like a little village, and everyone’s been so supportive.”

As a team, Sutton and Ferrari began as Bernal Supper Club with third partner Miles Carnahan. Carnahan continues to do small, underground dinners using the name, and so, for the restaurant, Sutton and Ferrari decided to name it for the hillside on which the place sits, on a prime corner across from Precita Park.

The menu is casual, seasonal, Italian-influenced California fare, and part of the formula for their success so far has been a three-course prix fixe for $32, with à la carte options as well. They’ll be expanding a bit, with eight appetizers and four entrées available each night, as well as a specials board.

Along the way, HSC also spiffied-up the restaurant’s interior, adding an industrial-ish bar/countertop, repainting the walls, installing new light fixtures, and applying a handsome coat of paint.

I stopped in at HSC late last night to send Chef Jonathan and Chef Tony my congratulations, because Bernalwood has been a fan their food since the very beginning.

I caught them just as they were enjoying a glass of wine to celebrate the end of their first day. Both men exuded a cheerful mix of elation and exhaustion. They said the restaurant had been crazy super-busy during their opening night — which is the kind of neighborhood welcome they deserve.

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There’s no sign out front yet (still waiting for a permit), but HSC is now officially open every night but Tuesday. Weekend brunch is also coming soon.

Here’s a peek at the opening menu:

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PHOTOS: By Telstar Logistics, on January 23, 2012

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23 thoughts on “Hillside Supper Club Now Open for Dinner — Permanent Style

  1. Our thanks to the owners of Caffe Cozzolino, the site of many lovely and important lunches and dinners over many years. We will miss you and wish you the best in life. Thanks for making ours a little better. To the new owners, welcome, we look forward to visiting some time.

    • The old restaurant attracted neither working class folk nor hipsters — it was empty most of the time. The former proprietors were nice people, but frankly the food was rather undelicious. Nor was it particularly cheap.

      So I think it would be a mistake to view the transformation of this space through the issue of class. Better, I suspect, to look at it as a matter of cuisine. This is a prime location for anyone who lives in North Bernal, so HSC will likely serve the neighborhood much better — if only because they make good food that neighbors will actually want to eat. (And the prices are reasonable too.)

      • You are correct, Todd. I’ve lived in Bernal Heights for 20 years and only ate at Caffe Cozzolino just once. This neighborhood, essentially North Bernal, needs a good restaurant.

    • It’s really too bad that you’ve written this place off so quickly (and on their opening day, I might add), without giving them a chance to show you what their food is all about. I give these guys a lot of credit for all the long hours and hard work they must have put in to make their dream a reality. I would hope that as a former restauranteur that you would be able to appreciate that. I think that it’s terrific that we North Slopers have another dining option that’s so close to home.

  2. Yes, it wasn’t very busy and yes their cuisine was mediocre, but sometimes we just like to eat comfort food. I’m a former restauranteur myself, but there are times when I just long for plain old working class cuisine. Last night I was craving just a simple pasta and meat sauce and I really didn’t want to spent $20 for it. Lo and behold, the All Stars Donut shop on 5th and Harrison had exactly what I needed! Actually the sauce was very good, surprising for a donut shop.

    But try to get your basic Italian cuisine anywhere around Bernal or the Mission. Outta luck. Oh I suppose Emmy’s probably has something decent, but last time I was there I had to sit through a DJ who was trying to impress everyone. I don’t need DJs.

    As to the issue of class, it’s ALL ABOUT CLASS. It’s getting so that the real working class can’t afford to dine out many places anymore. $8 burritos for God’s sake! The tamale lady’s $5 tamales! This is supposed to be working class food, not hipster food.

    • I guess that was where Cozzolino fell down for me: Owing to my New Jersey ancestry, mediocre Italian food *IS* comfort food for me. I crave the stuff, and pretty much subsist on it. (As a category, I call it “Italian-American” food, rather than “Italian” to manage expectations appropriately.)

      But Cozzolino wasn’t mediocre. Not even. Sadly.

      The spag and meatballs at Emmy’s are an excellent value, but yes, it can be loud, and a bit hard to get a table. (PRO TIP: Emmy’s take-out).

      There’s also Giovanni’s on Mission in South Bernal. Respectably mediocre, but at least satisfying. Ditto for La Grotta, in the Mission Market on Mission at 22nd.

      And of course, Vega on Cortland is actually rather excellent, and not too expensive either.

      Lastly, if cheap eats are the goal, the entire mission street corridor in Bernal/La Lengua remains a gold mine. Thankfully.

      • I live in North Bernal and it’s nice to just walk down the hill and be able to get a great meal. I also lived in New Jersey once but am grateful for the cuisine here.

      • There’s also La Traviata on 25th and Mission. It’s good, and you can get pasta with meat sauce for under $10. I think davidkaye might be confusing gentrification with simple inflation. Cost of goods goes up no matter who lives in your neighborhood.

        I’m stoked to have a new restaurant worth trying on this side of the hill.

  3. So happy that HSC is finally full time! A great addition to the neighborhood.

    David, if you are craving a simple pasta with meat sauce in an old school setting, La Traviata is a very short walk from north Bernal.

  4. The pasta at HSC is home-made every day, as is the sauce. If you’re craving Italian food, go there. You can get a small portion, affordably, at 13 bucks. Having tasted it, you’ll want the bigger portion next time and you won’t mind paying 18 for home cooking.

  5. Congratulations Tony & Jonathan! Your food is superb. We love you guys. Plus it is great to see lots of BH neighbors filling the place! Cheers!

  6. The opening was a great time and it is a nice permanent addition to the hill. We now have two amazing dinner spots and waiting for Charlies to open up his new place! Hipster or not it is so wonderful to have variety in our humble hood. Honorable mention to Precita Park Cafe for their delicious pizza and pasta dishes in addition to Jon & Tony’s. Maybe Precita Bark will open a dog lounge!

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  10. Ok, hahahaha, so my old haunt “The Creamery” was called a Pop Up restaurant? “The Creamery” was owned and operated by Paul Pesce, who catered to us kids like a father…Paul let us do anything we wanted, like, sit in the booths to do our homework, (huh?) sign slam books, have a coke, dance and just hang out for all hours – go home to eat and then come back…For a while, we got the Ocean View Boys visiting us and they were nice guys…Remembrances are still vivid

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