Oliveto Cafe & Restaurant offers seasonal cuisine in the Northern Italian tradition, including wild game, fresh pastas, wood-fired pizzas and ... More
Oliveto Cafe & Restaurant
Oliveto Cafe & Restaurant offers seasonal cuisine in the Northern Italian tradition, including wild game, fresh pastas, wood-fired pizzas and authentic vegetable and poultry dishes. ALL RESERVATIONS ARE FOR THE DINING ROOM ONLY. WE DO NOT TAKE RESERVATIONS FOR OUR CAFE.
Absolutely my favorite restaurant. We were treated like distinguished family our first time there. The second time, most of the hostess and wait staff remembered us; even the chef sent us a complimentary dish. They use the freshest, highest quality ingredients, and produce the most outstanding, low calorie/ low carb dishes ever, and its true Italian - not a bowl of spaghetti, thank you. The chef owner helped develop many of Alice Water's dishes for her restaurant and several of the chef's and another owner travel to Italy often so you can imagine how good these dishes are. The servings seem small when you look at them but after our meal, we're waddling out and trying to think what on earth we ate that filled us up so. Wonderful wine list. Upstairs is fine dining which we have enjoyed but we love the downstairs restaurant which is more eclectic in looks, more casual in that Berkeley kind of way, great outside seating, the dishes just as great, but we feel much more relaxed and don't mind spending 2 hours enjoying our meal and wine. They have a red-haired chef (Chef Ron, I believe) that creates the most fantastic dishes, especially the hen. And we've seen him often let young ones stand in front of his work area, demonstrate how to make real Italian pizzas and they point to what fixin's they want. Chef Pierre and Chef Paul C, of course are also outstanding. All the dishes are comprised of only 3 or 4 ingredients, look to be simple; I've even made several of them at home, but one bite tells you you're not in Kansas anymore. How do they do it? They have a community table in front of the quaint bar. We have always kept to ourselves and would discreetly watch everyone at that table, wondering how anyone could like being near so many strangers. One day, we braved up and sat there and had the most fantastic time, speaking to strangers that quickly became our Oliveto buddies. It's been a thrill seeing an occasional celebrity or dignitary come in to dine - obviously they know where to get a good meal too - San Francisco's snobbery and ridiculous prices don't begin to match up to this place. Trust me - try Oliveto for a delicious, wholesome, high quality delicious meal with a great ambience. Dinner for 2 (appetizer & dinner) with $22 wine and dessert + coffees is usally about $70 for us. Sometimes a little less. Oh, and the occasional free item. Yummmm.
Great seasoned food--perfection in bringing out the natural flavors. Far better in my opinion than Chez Panisse. Loved it. Reasonably priced. I do not understand the bad reviews on this restaurant at all!
It's hard for me to add anything that hasn't already been said, but the downstairs cafe is truly a delightful and inexpensive experience. The room's soft colors and lighting is quite romantic, and of course one's date will be impressed by the restaurant's sophistication. Eat outside if the evening is warm enough - Rockridge has a fun and vibrant street scene.
I recommend the Noccino (sp?) for dessert - it's a walnut skin liqueur, very interesting and good; their desserts are basically nonexistant anyway. Also, check out Oliveto's rotating special dinners on their website - I'm going to the tomato dinner next week, and I couldn't be more excited for my heirloom tomato Bloody Mary.
Karen, people go to Pasta Pomodoro with their children. And Oliveto is more expensive, albeit not by much. Although I have seen kids at Oliveto, it's not terribly family-friendly (although much more so than the other top-end restaurants on College - could you imagine taking a child to A Cote? Children don't like anchovies, also, and Oliveto is obsessed with them).
Reader, if you haven't noticed already, this restaurant is fantastic and is a never-miss. Ever. Great place for a quick drink if you're feeling glamorous, too; it's across the street from Bart.
The stretch of College Ave. known as Rockridge is one of my favorite neighborhoods in the Bay Area. And knockout food like Oliveto is one of the reasons why. The downstairs cafe is an amazing bargain: get great sandwiches and thin crust pizzas at lunch, or heartier entrees at dinner. The menu isn't terribly long, but everything on it is fresh and perfectly prepared. Lattes are also a treat here. Nice little wine list, great bread. Why people are eating at Pasta Pomodoro down the street for pretty much the same prices is completely beyond me, but that means less of a wait for me!
We went to brunch at around 9:30am on a Sunday. You walk up and order food and wait for the food to be brought to you. The ambiance was really great, we first sat a the farm table then moved over to a great small table near the window
It's very relaxing place to be to hang out for Sunday brunch.
The food was delicious and not overly expensive. The desserts cost a lot but are by far the best thing (get the bittersweet chocolate cake, which is perfectly made and not heavy).
The service could have been better, but nothing terrible. The food is heavier I would say, but very taste-ful.
Paul Bertoli is one of those rare individuals who has the vision, the talent and the passion to create quintessential examples of some of the great things in life. Be it Momma's brisket stew, Nocino-walnut liqueur, balsamic vinegar or salumi of all shapes and sizes, you can be sure that Paul has perfected it by hand. Oliveto is his kitchen and you're in for a special treat if you are lucky enough to live close enough to visit his remarkable restaurant. The best days are during the seasonal specials. The Whole Hog is perhaps his most famous (people fly in for it), late summer is Tomatoes, later Fish, Balsamic (ever had a small shot glass of 100 year old vinegar?? talk about good to the last drop!) and many more... but every night is special since it as designed around the seasons best produce. The Bay Area is the food basket of the world and Oliveto reveres that glorious bounty in a most wonderful way.
One would expect Oliveto's to live up to its positive reviews from respected critics, but it falls short in many ways. The food is good but the servings are TINY so don't expect to get full, the waiters are consistently picky with who they serve well (if you are young or underdressed, don't expect to get good service: ie the server only came to our table to take our order and to hand us the check). If you're looking for a restaurant to set a positive mood for the evening, I do not recommend Oliveto's.