Paola Silvia Colombo: my Italian bread in San Francisco

Paola Silvia Colombo: my Italian bread in San Francisco

Pane Colombo Farina
Photo © Lavinia Pisani

Paola Colombo, a young woman of Italian origin, lives in San Francisco and works for the FARINA in the Mission district. She is responsible for the restaurant’s breads and pastries. Paola has an interesting story to tell us…

Your story is interesting; how did it begin?

‘Our two restaurants are self-sufficient as far as their production of fresh pasta, bread, focaccia, cookies, gelato and sorbet. When I started working here, I was in charge of making the pasta. We make many different types of Italian pastas, including “mandilli di seta”.

While I was quite satisfied with the  quality of pasta we served our guests, I was less pleased with the bread products. For different reasons… the choice of flour to the techniques of production… the bread just did not have that wonderful fragrance of the many Italian regional breads. So, I began to research and to experiment – even in my own home oven.’

Paola Silvia Colombo
Photo © Lavinia Pisani

Was it enough read and gather information?

‘Not having access to a cooking school, I had to learn at the side of Italian artisans. I decided to return to Italy for a while. I asked bread bakers for their advice on flours, and on using electric ovens. I was even able to work in an Italian pastry bakery. There, I learned the secrets of ‘pasta frolla‘, ‘sfoglia‘ and most of the creams that are used in Italian pastry bakeries.’

And then, back in San Francisco?

‘And now, here I am, back at FARINA. Now, besides the focaccia, we bake daily, white and ‘special bread’ variations that we use to accompany cheeses. All of the dry pastry, as well as the sorbet, the gelatos, and the desserts are made by me.’


Marco Negro
Associazione Legami