I’ve been on an Italian-American food kick recently and have went to Original Joe’s in North Beach a few times over the last few months. Originally located in the Tenderloin, Original Joe’s moved to its present location opposite Washington Square park in 2012 four years after a fire closed its original location. I’d never been to the Tenderloin location so can’t say how it compares. I’m guessing the prices were lower. In addition to the North Beach location, the owners also own Joe’s of Westlake in Daly City. There’s also an Original Joe’s in San Jose, but I don’t know if they are related as they have different websites.
I would classify Original Joe’s as an Italian-American diner, with comfortable upholstered booths and a lounge-like bar area. It’s fun to sit at the chef’s counter in the back and watch the kitchen work. They also have a mesquite charcoal grill which gives a nice flavor to grilled steaks and chops.
Here’s what I had over a few recent visits.
Calves Liver and Onion ($25.95, comes with choice of side)
The classic combination of liver and onions. I had this cooked medium rare. Sweet grilled onions. Good texture in the liver, smooth and a little pink in the middle. A good match with the salty crispy bacon and the sweet grilled onions. They put some green colored oil (from parsley maybe?) around the plate which made for an interesting presentation.
Chicken Parmigiana ($27.95, comes with choice of side)
Original Joe’s does a very good chicken parm. I had this a few times. Sometimes a little too heavy with the salt in the tomato sauce though. White meat chicken with a crispy breading, with a generous amount of mozzarella cheese melted and slightly browned under the grill.
Prime Rib Dip ($21.95, comes with choice of side)
A good French dip sandwich. The bread roll is not sourdough but rather something softer and sweeter. Good thinly sliced steak, with a powerful horseradish sauce. I would probably get their burger over this though if I were looking for a beef sandwich.
Joe’s Special ($18.95 plus $2 extra for mushrooms)
A “made in San Francisco” dish. Basically a scramble with ground beef, onions, and spinach. I added mushrooms for a little extra. It tastes like what it’s made of. Eggs were a bit overdone.
Joe’s Famous Hamburger Sandwich with French Fries ($19.95 plus $2 for cheese)
Simply constructed burger. The sourdough bread that it is used in lieu of a bun was not too hard and not mouth slicing. I had it medium rare and char-broiled with cheddar cheese. Very juicy and beefy patty. I think there were some finely diced onions in the patty that gave it some extra flavor. This is a large burger that can possibly feed two.
Hamburger Steak ($24.95 plus $3.95 for sautéed mushrooms and onions, comes with choice of side)
This looks like a larger version of the beef patty in the hamburger sandwich, only without the bread. I and added onions and mushrooms for a little extra. Interesting accompaniment of sport peppers and olives.
Roasted Prime Rib ($38.95)
A solid prime rib with good creamed spinach and mashed potatoes. Won’t give House of Prime Rib much competition though.
Little fried risotto balls with cheese. OK.
Fries (Side Dish) ($7.95)
Their fries are good.
Ravioli (Side Dish) ($7.95)
The ravioli themselves were pretty good, but the sauce was a little watery.
Creamed Spinach (Side Dish) ($7.95)
Good creamed spinach. I’ve tended to order this as a side dish most of the time - many of the mains have a choice of a side. Because vegetables. The amount of cream and butter in it probably nullifies any health benefits of the spinach though.