Lina Toracca juggling platters at the Original U.S. Restaurant. Photo courtesy Peter Mrabe.
By Dana Eastland. North Beach lost an icon last week, when Lina Toracca passed away on Wednesday October 22nd. Toracca was an iconic waitress at the Original U.S. Restaurant for more than 35 years. She was born in 1926 in Genoa, Italy, and began working at the Original U.S. in the early 1960s, where she had a reputation for being tough and stern with her customers, but loving too. If you couldn’t decide what to order, she’d go ahead and choose for you. Or maybe you were fooling around—she’d grab you by the ear and put you in your place. She worked the morning shift, from 5am until 1pm, and served many of the neighborhood residents their very first restaurant breakfast.
Because of her tough but loving demeanor and no-nonsense attitude, Lina was a maternal figure for many in the neighborhood. Her son, Giovanni Toracca (a name many will recognize), says that people would sometimes tell him that she reminded them of a different era; she “reminded them of the way the world used to be.” As for her own breakfast order, she enjoyed artichoke frittata or a bowl of oatmeal with lots of chocolate.
Lina Toracca passed away surrounded by family. Our thoughts are with them, and the many North Beach locals who knew and loved her.