Lidia Valledor and Liam (Photo credit: Foodie Chap/Liam Mayclem)

Foodie Chap Celebrates Cafe Zoetrope Turning 20

General Manager Lidia Valledor

Liam Mayclem
December 10, 2019 - 11:32 am

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS RADIO) — Cafe Zoetrope, opened in 1999, was created with much thought from Francis Ford Coppola. Many of the items on the menu are his own recipes and the European ambience is something he cultivated. The Cafe functions as a wine bar and a restaurant in the style of a Roman Trattoria.

Named after Coppola’s film production company, American Zoetrope, Cafe Zoetrope is located in the majestic Sentinel Building, a San Francisco historic landmark in the heart of North Beach. We are a European-style cafe and offer authentic Italian cuisine and a wide selection of Italian and California wines, including our premium offerings that we carry exclusively at our wineries, cafes, and website. One-of-a-kind mementos spanning Francis' long and celebrated film career decorate the walls while the awnings and heated sidewalks make it comfortable to hang out it’s inside where the magic lies - on and beyond the plate.

Francis Ford Coppola bought the building in 1972 to be the headquarters for his production company, American Zoetrope. A number of his films including The Godfather II and III, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation, One From The Heart, The Outsiders, and Bram Stoker's Dracula were written, edited, or sound mixed within these walls. Two decades since opening, the revolving door at Zoetrope remains a North Beach staple, where people come for intimate lunches or dinners, for group gatherings or coffee for one. Aside from a richly diverse menu with pastas, pizzas and more, there are wine offerings from around the world and from the Coppola Wine Estate in Napa, too.

At the helm daily is Lidia Vallador a Chef and hotelier from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She works with Mr. Coppola on the creation of menu items and wine programs. Though Francis Ford Coppola is the heart and soul of Cafe Zoetrope, it’s Lidia who oversees the day to day operations and keeps this North Beach mainstay on the culinary map. 

Enjoy my conversation with Lidia taped recently at Cafe Zoetrope, one of my favorite eating & imbibing spots in San Francisco.

CIN CIN - (Cheers)!!

Lidia Valledor's Malfatti Recipe
Lidia Valledor's Malfatti Recipe


  • 2 cups creamy Ricotta
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup Cooked Spinach, chopped
  • ½ Grated Parmeggiano Reggiano
  • Salt
  • Fresh Pepper

For the Sauce:

  • 1 cup of Tomato Sauce
  • ½ cup of Heavy Cream

Mix all the ingredients together by hand. With your hands covered with flour, form small balls, about 1inch each. They should look no bigger than a walnut. Cook them in boiling water, the water should double the amount of pasta, to give the malfatti room to cook. They are ready when they start to float (about 5 minutes of cooking).

For the sauce, mix the tomato sauce and cream in a pan, bring to medium heat, let it boil for about 1 minute, and add the malfatti. Finish cooking pasta and sauce together for one more minute, serve with grated Parmeggiano Reggiano and garnish with 1 basil leaf.



Directors Cut by Francis Ford Coppola Family Winery
Directors Cut by Francis Ford Coppola Family Winery.

Director's Cut Pinot Noir, from Francis Ford Coppola Winery, which I found delicate and light enough to have with pasta without meat and also with delicate flavors.

Aromas Cinnamon, cloves, and tea leaves 

The Flavors:Red cherries, wild strawberries, and pomegranate The 2016 harvest yielded beautiful flavor concentration and high-quality fruit. After pressing, the juice was placed into open-top fermenters and punched down several times a day for extraction.