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Rex Restaurant, San Francisco, 1942
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Rex Restaurant, San Francisco, 1942 Rex Restaurant, San Francisco, 1942 Rex Restaurant, San Francisco, 1942

Rex Restaurant, San Francisco, 1942


This wine list, with its beautifully simple graphic of sparkling wine being poured into a glass, was from The Rex restaurant in San Francisco.

Prohibition had decimated the California wine industry. In 1919, there were 2500 wineries and by the 1930s only about a hundred wineries were still in existence. Later, WW2 would halt any serious growth.

But restaurateur Rino Del Curto, gathered the best that was available for this 1942 wine list, serving wines from Napa and Sonoma Valley and some imported wines and champagnes. Del Curto’s parents were Italian immigrants. His father had come to work in the silver mines in Utah in the early 1900s but moved the family back to their home-town of Prosto. Italy, a tiny village near the Swiss border.

After working as a busboy at the famously elegant Palace Hotel in St Moritz, 15-year-old Del Curto boarded a ship bound for San Francisco.

Eventually, he opened The Rex – Latin for the King – at 401 Broadway Street and it became a popular destination for businessmen. He also opened the Marconi restaurant in the city’s financial district.

After selling the restaurants, Del Curto became a successful realtor and businessman. He died in 2005 at the age of 94.

Courtesy Private Collection.

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