As much as I adore North Beach, we have our share of challenging days in our little corner of the city. As the beating heart of San Francisco, North Beach seems to feel the city’s growing pains acutely. But we’re a resilient bunch–and if you’re patient, the sun always comes out in North Beach.

That being said, it’s always a pleasure to report a little good news. On Sunday, September 16th, at 10:15pm, North Beach’s Ria Pesenti gave birth to daughter Luciana Rose Pesenti. The official stats: seven pounds, six ounces; twenty inches. Congratulations to Ria, her husband Tony and the whole Azzolino family!

Little Luciana tries out her smile for the camera.

Like myself, many of my readers know Ria from local seafood house Sotto Mare. Ria has been there from day one, and she was the first person to serve me there over a decade ago. Her parents, Laura and Rich Azzolino, bought the place from their good friend Gigi Fiorucci back in 2015; together, the Azzolinos have run the place ever since.

A happy Santino cuddles his brand-new baby sister.

Sotto Mare has built an enviable reputation, inspiring imitators and drawing visitors from all over the globe. Impressive claims for a little place that has only been around for eleven years. What’s their secret? Of course the food is great, but it’s more than that: this may sound simple, but they know how to treat people. I swear, some nights it seems like they know everyone who walks in the door.

And in fact, they just might: Rich, Laura and Ria all grew up right here in the neighborhood, within blocks of the restaurant. Which explains why the birth of little Luciana is legitimate North Beach news.

Luciana takes a break from all the excitement.

Yesterday, I asked paterfamilias Rich Azzolino what it meant to him to have another grandchild (this is Ria’s second), and he was pretty unequivocal. “To have a grandson and now a granddaughter, I feel like I’m on top of the world,” he told me with a smile. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

As the neighborhood heads into the merriment and chaos of the Columbus Day weekend, let’s all join in welcoming this new addition to the North Beach family. Congratulazioni!