Many of the Fisherman's Wharf restaurants are named after the family that has operated the establishment for generations. It is part of the charm of the Wharf, where the heritage of the Italian fishermen continues to this day.
Cioppino's continues that tradition. Almost. The only difference between this restaurant and many of the other family-run restaurants at Fisherman's Wharf is that their family name is not Cioppino. They would have used our family name, but they were forced to admit it simply does not look good in lights. So they settled on Cioppino's, which is what they do best.
Owner, Nick Hoppe, is a fifth generation native San Franciscan who takes great pride in both the city and restaurant. His father, Art Hoppe, was a San Francisco Chronicle reporter whose column was syndicated across the country. Art Hoppe covered 50 years of U.S. and San Francisco news for The Chronicle. He joined the publisher in 1949, with a salary of only $35 a week. After only seven months, he was promoted to reporter, and the rest is history. From the 1954 marriage of Joe Dimaggio and Marilyn Monroe in North Beach to the John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon presidential race, Hoppe's humorous but informative columns made him a legendary San Francisco journalist.
Cioppino is a lusty and flavorful seafood soup which is uniquely San Franciscan. The origin of both the dish and the name came from the Italian fishermen in the early 1900's, when Fisherman's Wharf was still called Meigg's Wharf. Someone would make the rounds of the moored fishing boats, calling out for contributions to a common, festive stew. One fisherman would toss a nice, fat fish into the bucket, another would drop in a succulent Dungeness crab, another some herbs and vegetables. The cry that prompted each contribution was “Chip In!, Chip In!" But coming from an Italian throat, this American slang had to end in a vowel. And the "in" was, of course "een". So "Chip-een-o" was born.
It's been 100 years, but the Italian fishermen are still here, and so is Cioppino, which is their signature dish. The Cioppino is so good they named the restaurant after it.