Andrea Froncillo, chef-partner of The Franciscan Crab Restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, recalls a recent phone conversation he overheard at the restaurant in which a customer spoke effusively in Italian. While others may not have understood the caller, Froncillo, who is from Southern Italy, heard the man describe his entire meal. Then, excitedly, came the punch line: “I gave them $100, and they gave me change!” While economic belt-tightening has dampened ...

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