Americano Restaurant is a classy joint* in the Hotel Vitale, at the corner of Mission Street and The Embarcadero in San Francisco. It’s a place where customers are expected to know their confit, their brodo, their salumi, and their Grana Padano. Some of them may also know the correct definition of “arriviste.” However, the Americano’s managers apparently do not.
I took the best photograph I could of this sign, which is etched in glossy granite and mounted on a wall at the entrance to the restaurant. Here’s the text:
The ‘American Dreamers’ Series
Gazing upwards at our ceiling you will see commissioned photo-portraits of San Franciscan arrivistes from other lands; the latest generation of successful entrepreneurs (three of them are local restauranteurs) to live the American Dream and become ‘Americanos’.
The primary goof: “Arriviste”—from the French arriver, to arrive—does not mean what they think it means. It does not mean “arrival” or “newcomer”; rather, for more than a century it has meant “a pushy, ambitious person” or “an upstart,” someone intent on “arriving” in society. It has no positive connotations.
And as long as I’m being picky:
- A person who owns or operates a restaurant is a restaurateur—no n. This is a good thing to memorize if you happen to own or operate a restaurant yourself.
- Since we’re all Americanos here, let’s observe the American punctuation style: double quotation marks, period inside the quotation marks.
- In American English, there is no s in upward (or backward, toward, forward, et al.).
- That semicolon? Wrong. Make it a colon or an em dash.
- The adjectival form of “San Francisco” here should be “San Francisco” (as in “San Francisco landmarks,” “San Francisco fog,” “the San Francisco treat”).
I’ve had only a light snack at Americano, so I can’t say whether the restaurant pays closer attention to cuisine than to editing. At least one critic, Amy Sherman, gave the restaurant a favorable review.
Hat tip for the headline: The Princess Bride.
* Oh, pardon me: “dining experience.”