Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Jun 30, 2006 01:02 PM

Oliveto Cafe

My friends and I had a very disappointing meal downstairs at Oliveto yesterday. I'm using the word "disappointing" with some precision. The food was not bad. It was certainly a better meal than we would have had choosing a restaurant at random.

There were three in our party. I had the skirt steak, which was decent. It might be too rich for some people. I bet it's cooked in lard.

Another friend had the swordfish. She found it very boring. I agreed.

A third friend had a sausage pizza with greens on it. This was fine, but not exceptional. A much better version is available at Pizzaiolo.

One bright spot was dessert. Everybody enjoyed the peach-flavored meringata with raspberry sauce.

With tip, the meal came to $75. Like I said, our food was acceptable, but at that price I expect more.

Those who've tried both, is there a world of difference between the restaurant and the cafe?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The ingredients sourcing for both is the same. Farm/ranch direct deliveries are the religion here. Food cost as a result is higher, but so is quality/flavor. $25 a head for this kind of quality is fair, but not in everyone's budget. Try Dopo and Pizzaiolo for a base comparison of price and value with similar ingredients philosophy.

    The food upstairs is multicourse oriented. That is to say that ordering from each section of the menu and sometimes more than one from each section is best if you're hungry and want to cover some ground. Portions are small, but not ridiculously sized. The menu changes with great frequency in both venues, but more broadly upstairs. Everything here is done by hand. Pesto is mortared not buzzed in a machine. This kind of differentiation isn't important to everyone.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Karl Gerstenberger

      > Farm/ranch direct deliveries are the religion here. Food cost as a result is higher, but so is > quality/flavor.

      I'm of the same religion, but I think you'll agree that execution is also important.

      I've since talked to several friends about Oliveto (both cafe and restaurant) and they've assured me that I hit an off night at the cafe. Suffice it to say, I'm more than eager to give the cafe another try.


    2. Also, if you're ordering from the downstairs menu everything is prepared in the brick oven, so one would have to adjust one's expectations accordingly.

      I've found their food to be consistently solid, but pricey for what you get.

      1. Oliveto upstairs is absolutely worth the money to me.

        In the price range of the downstair cafe, I think Pizzaiolo and Dopo are better values. One plus for Oliveto's cafe, it's open seven days and serves breakfast and lunch.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Thanks for the recommendations. Haven't been to Dopo yet. I must say--like others before me--that I'd find it difficult to skip the pizza at Pizzaiolo.


        2. We frequent the downstairs and we like it very much. I will say, however, that I tend to be more enamored of the starters than the entrees (it's hard to go to Oliveto without any taste of salumi). As long as it is isn't prime time on thursday-saturday, I also like the fact that I can pop in quite easily.