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Monday, May 20, 2024

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CultureFood & DrinkGood Taste: Italian disco deli prepares to party downtown

Good Taste: Italian disco deli prepares to party downtown

Aurora Centro from DJ-chef Dario Barbone will open as part of SF’s Vacant to Vibrant program. Yes, there will be music.

Dario Barbone is the owner of Alimentari Aurora (1415 18th St., SF), an original and discerning Italian deli in Potrero Hill known for a daily changing menu of elaborate sandwiches, world-class pasta to take home and cook, and a weekly “fish tin omakase” where diners in the outdoor parklet let Barbone use his imagination to make something delicious from a can (and fresh ingredients). A connoisseur of electronic music, Barbone also hosts DJs monthly inside the shop for Aurora Sessions, a live stream with Chinatown’s Fault Radio.

Barbone is one of the new Vacant to Vibrant grantees just freshly announced Mayor London Breed. He’ll receive free storefront space (exact address to be announced soon, keep an eye on their Instagram) to open a second location called Aurora Centro in The East Cut for the next six months, which should put him on the path to signing a long-term lease. The Vacant to Vibrant program began in 2023 as an effort to begin revitalizing the downtown area. 

Fish tins at Alimentari Aurora

Other food-centric Vacant to Vibrant grantees selected from over 1,200 applicants who will receive at least three months of storefront space include the Hungry Crumbs cookie bakery; JUMA Ventures & Steep Creamery, a youth-run and led boba and ice cream shop; the Good Taste-approved and Indian-inspired ice cream makers Koolfi Creamery, and Paper Son Coffee, described in a release as having “adventurous new flavor profiles.” 

Smoked cheddar and braised broccoli sandwich at Alimentari Aurora

Originally from Italy, Barbone has made San Francisco his home for the past 20 years. His Potrero Hill shop is beloved in the neighborhood, and he’s looking forward to fostering a loving sense of community downtown with Aurora Centro. The new location will allow him to expand on the music side of his programming, and he promises that Fault Radio will always be playing on the stereo.

“It’s for San Franciscans, by a longtime San Franciscan,” says Barbone of Alimentari Centro. That means mindful prices for his stellar sandwiches, salads, snacks, and drinks to encourage regulars. He is working towards a soft opening on June 16. 

Barbone’s original location in Potrero Hill

I named Vacant to Vibrant a Best of the Bay 2023 Editors’ Pick for the promise it showed to small local businesses and to the city. The food businesses in the first cohort are still open in Embarcadero Center and doing well. May Barbone and the rest of this year’s new class be as supported and loved by the community as their colleagues who started last year.

Tamara is the founder of Music Book Club and publisher of the soon-to-relaunch California Eating.

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