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‘Dago Bagel’ to Open in North Beach. No Big Deal.

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The Fremont born darling of San Francisco pizza is now opening a bakery and bagel shop in North Beach.  But you might not want to say the name out loud, because you’ll sound like a bigot from the 1920s.

‘Dago Bagel’ is the new North Beach bagel brand, started by Tony Gemignani of the famous Tony’s Pizza.  Tony told Elena Kadvany, the Chronicle food writer this week that he chose the name it an ethnic slur in defiance, after a recent altercation outside one of his North Beach restaurants.

He alleged a man had been harassing him about the restaurant’s operations and yelled the slur at him. He filed a police report, then went back into the kitchen and decided to reclaim the derogatory term. “It’s important to create that awareness, for people to learn and know what that word means and to not to use it in a certain way,” Gemignani said.

Their bagels are said to be naturally leavened and, ‘New York-style’, with only a hint of racism baked in. I haven’t really gotten into the whole bagel fad in SF, I don’t really get it (full disclosure). But Tony’s Pizza is delicious, they do something like 6 different types of crust over there and they’re really good ( I’ve eaten them all).

Dago bagel will have plain, sesame seed, poppy seed, blueberry, everything, Maldon salt and cinnamon sugar bagels available, with schmears, nova and lox for toppings.

The ‘Toscano Brothers’ bakery with ‘Dago Bagel’ opens May 1 at 728 Vallejo St., between Stockton and Powell streets, specializing in sour dough and NY style bagels.  They’re opening right by Hawaii West, an amazing Chinatown tiki dive bar. There’s no website yet, it looks like a soft opening with a ‘word of mouth’ appeal, as in, “Hey, have you checked out that new Dago place yet?”

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  1. Nick
    April 29, 2021 at 2:08 pm

    Did this “altercation” happen at the bus stop on the corner of Columbus and Union? If so, It was pretty funny to watch.

  2. Jenni
    April 30, 2021 at 8:31 am

    Even though I am Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish, I have never heard that word before. I had to look it up. Asked my mom, and she said she’d heard of it…from my Italian grandma who said that people used to call her that.

  3. Does it Matter
    May 2, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    If you are not offended by that word then you’re a young disconnected Italian.

  4. Mark
    May 10, 2021 at 5:56 am

    Some perspective: the Two Dagos From Texas restaurant in Belltown, Seattle, Washington. Before it was sold, and then closed, it was an interesting place to eat. The owners (Italian brothers, if I recall correctly) took it as a point of pride to reclaim a slur while making some good food and joking about something that, to them, wasn’t a big deal.

    I think Lenny Bruce did this best. He worked to twist offense into pride, and spat at those who would try to disparage others. Sure, he died for his art. But he also understood that terms can only hurt us if we let them. Point in fact, we can reclaim terms and make them our own, and leave the ignorant left mumbling and fumbling. Funny how old-fashioned, out of date, and quaint that idea now seems.

    Does It Matter seems to still take offense at the term. Fair enough. I can’t speak for your perspective. But I am, after all, an Italian American. So I can speak for my perspective. Personally, I find the term funny. I also find the false etymologies of terms like that (Dago meaning “day go,” as in going to look for work during the day; or Wop meaning “without papers”) casually educational . . . just like people thought KISS meant “Knights in Satan’s Service.” Culture and history are very slippery. They are instructive too. But they are also very, very loose.

    Me? I’d try the bagels. During the day I would go. And I will let you know if I think they are any good. But what do I know? I am a middle-aged Italian American. Disconnected? Not sure. I think my phone line is doing just fine.

    All the best.