Cupola Pizzeria, San Francisco

Before this Italian restaurant, fashion and pizza never had so much in common
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Posted January 17, 2013

Even though the restaurant he helped design has a runway, Cass Smith, design principal of CCS Architecture, hasn’t seen anyone try to walk it just yet.

Cupola Pizzeria is an Italian eatery located in the San Francisco’s Westfield Centre, which opened in 2011. Its name, which contains the Italian word for “dome,” was inspired in part by its location under the historic dome on the mall’s fourth floor.

“We wanted to have a place that was tied to the context of fashion,” Smith explains. “We embarked on trying to create a place that didn’t have an artisanal or rustic look and feel. It was much more refined; a kind of place that looks like you’re in a fashionable setting.”

To that end, Smith blended the regional food and wine of Naples while evoking a modern Milanese fashion show to lure fashion-forward shoppers. The façade of the eatery is made from curved Carrera tile and radiused, polished stainless steel, giving a refined yet inviting feel. As Smith explains: “It’s trying to be sexy!”

Immediately inside, a bright red, high-gloss, segmented community table adorned with faux-steps emulates a runway surrounded by seating for the “audience” (or rather, hungry shoppers). The bold red of the table draws the eye straight down the middle of the space to the focal point – a handmade, Steffano Ferrara Uno Forno wood-burning pizza oven imported from Italy.

Pendant lighting hung from the walnut wood salt ceiling gleams and floats above the stunning red runway “like jewelry in the architecture,” Smith says.

The walls of the space also flout a dome motif, embodied by circular graphics (which appear to be cut into slices, blending food, fashion and domes all into one) filled with smaller images of domes. Intermittent backlit mirrors add extra depth and dimension to the space, while dark, solid, walnut slab tables fill the rest of the floor.

Because the kitchen is viewable from the dining area, diners can closely watch the pizzaioli (pizza chefs). In this space, sleek blackened steel shelving displays the firewood used to fuel the oven. “We decided to show off the wood in a space that’s functional and is also something for everybody to look at,” Smith says.

For a shopper who loves pizza but lives to be enveloped by fashion, it might just be a perfect fit.

Project Suppliers

Retailer: Lark Creek Restaurant Group, San Francisco

Design and Lighting: CCS Architecture (San Francisco); Cass Smith, principal; Bryan Southwick, project architect; Sean Kennedy, designer; Barbara Turpin-Vickroy, interior design director

Graphics: Michael Mabry Design (Emeryville, California)

Photography: Paul Dyer, San Francisco