Via Centro, Berkeley
Just had lunch today at Via Centro in Berkeley. It's at 2132 Center Street in Berkeley - not far from Berkeley Rep (the other side of Shattuck).
Nice spot - probably really loud when they are busy - but they were pretty quiet for lunch today. Had an organice lettuce salad (your basic salad mix) with a quince-pomegranate dressing which was quite delicious. A little sweet, with pomegranate seeds and small dice of quince - different than anything I'd had before.
Then a pizza with carmelized onions, potatoes and gorgonzola out of their wood fired oven - quite delicious - fabulous crust.
and rice pudding with warm cherry sauce and toasted almonds for dessert - sounded better than it tasted, the cherries overwhelmed the rice pudding which seemed kind of bland.
Prices for lunch ranged from 10-14.50 for entrees, about $10 for sandwiches, 6-8 for soups/salads.
All in all, I'd go back in a heartbeat - a bit pricey - maybe a bit less than Downtown - but the food and service were very good.
Wine list, I didn't make notes on, I had a veltliner by the glass, but I can't remember the vineyard and didn't have a pen to take notes - by the glass prices were pretty typical $5-7
While I did enjoy that same salad, I wasn't too impressed when I was there. Personally, I don't think that I have the kind of money to spend like you do (I'm a poor undergraduate at Cal), and I thought it was sort of weird that I had to go up to a counter to order, pay, and then sit down. The service was good, but the portions did not reflect the value. *shrugs* Just not my cup of tea, I suppose.
re: Cyrus J. Farivar
Are you sure you weren't at Sante Fe Grill or Bistro (can't remember exact name)? - it's a couple of doors closer to campus on Center.
Via Centro has full service while Santa Fe is order at the counter - I haven't tried Santa Fe (sounds intriguing - all organic ingredients - but I felt like being waited on).
And yes, neither is a poor undergrad place despite being near campus - more like business folks and the Berkeley Rep crowd.
I had a dish there a few months ago that I can still taste! It was a spaghetti bolognese with mascarpone...sounds simple, i know, but every single bite was a perfect dream. I crave it! Haven't been back cuz it's not in my 'hood, but boy, do i think about that delicious pasta all the time.