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Jul 22, 2006 11:20 PM

Di Bartolo restaurant, Oakland-anyone been yet?

The folks from Di Bartolo Cafe on Grand have opened a restaurant next door by the same name. A blurb in the chron described it as "Southern France meets Northern Spain". Anyone been yet? Thinking about going for dinner tonight. Will report back if I do.

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  1. SF Gate link:

    I was never that impressed with the cafe, though. It was just okay. Hope the restaurant turns out better!

    1. Was there on Saturday night. My date and I started with cocktails, both of which were flavorful and strong (a fig martini and a margarita, the names escape me). Neither of us were starving, so we split an appetizer of the anchovy crostini. The brine of the fish was complemented nicely by a topping of roasted pepper. Onward to the mains: she ordered the seafood stew which was presented beautifully; I had a taste, but I don't recall it very well since the margarita had laid me out by that point. I ordered the seared halibut, which was served on a splayed and grilled red pepper atop spinach and spicy rice. The fish was a tad salty, but cooked well. I wasn't thrilled about cutting through an entire red pepper, and by the time I got to the rice it was clear that it didn't belong in an entree that cost $22 (although the spinach was good). We ordered glasses of a South African white which we clearly didn't need, and when they arrived we really wish we hadn't ordered them. Almost undrinkable. But for what little knowledge I had of wine, it was the only bottle I hadn't seen at Safeway. Having just been to New Zealand, we scanned the winelist for a Kiwi wine but were dismayed to find only one, and one that was memorably awful (Peregrine Pinot if you're keeping track). For dessert we split a cardamom and orange creme brulee which had a perfectly thin lid of sugar, though the creme anglaise was a tad heavy on cardamom. We didn't order the pizza, partly out of loyalty to Pizzaiolo, partly out of dietary restrictions, but people who had ordered them seemed to enjoy them.

      In summary, the food is too expensive for the lack of inventiveness, the wine list is mediocre, the cocktails are good. I'll go back one more time to see if it gets better (and to try the pizza), and I truly hope it does because it's so close. But it's not a destination restaurant just yet.

      1. A friend and I went on Saturday night and had a very pleasant and tasty evening. We split the fries (had to try them) and they were really good. Up there with the fries from A cote and Absinthe, which are two my favorite pomme frites places. We then split the mixed greens, blue cheese, apple and walnut salad and it was prefectly done IMO and this is one of my favorite combos. We then had the Pizza Margharita and it was really good. Maybe not quite as good as Pizzaolio, but very close. Nice thin crispy crust, perfect toppings. Yummy. For dessert we too had the Creme Brulee, which was very tasty. I loved the flavors. We also had the flourless chocolate cake with espresso ice cream and almonds. This I loved. The size was perfect and the almonds really made it.
        oTher notes: The waitress was wonderful. Made very good reccomendations on the wine. My friend had an Orvieto from Umbria that was very tasty. I had the shiraz and it too was very good, fruity, spicy and delicious.

        I am very much looking forward to going back. Our neighborhood is really going to benifit from this and I am curious and excited to see how the place develops.

        1. Sadly, our meal was subpar. First, we had a the "manchego stuffed aubergine" ($6). It consisted of 4 miniscule slivers of overly oily and overly salted eggplant folded over the manchego. Really not worth $6.

          Next we had the "white bean-tomato salad in truffle viniagrette" (Also $6, if memory serves) which was truly one of the worst dishes I've had in a restaurant in a long time. First of all, the beans were way undercooked (and I don't mean al dente, I mean, you're in danger of breaking a tooth). Also, there may have been one teensy peice of tomato at most. Didn't detect any truffle either. I honestly think a can of white beans would have been better. I regret not sending it back.

          Entrees were much better, although by no means great. I had seared halibut over braised spinach & fennel ($22). The spinach & fennel was perfect--meltingly tender & savory, a nice balance between the two. The fish was slightly overcooked for my taste, although yummy nonetheless. Oddly, one end was much more heavily salted than the other.

          The boyfriend's fulton chicken (also in the neighborhood of $22) was perfectly cooked & seasoned. The gigante beans that came with, however, were undercooked & underseasoned (clearly they have trouble with beans).

          The high point of the meal was the cardamom orange creme brulee ($7), which I thought was delicious. Service throughout was friendly & attentive.

          I definitly have higher expectations for these prices. That said, there are rays of hope (the chicken & creme brulee), and maybe they'll hit their stride. I'll may go back at some point, especially since they're in the neighborhood, but I'll wait to hear of news of improvement first.

          1. What a shame! So much potential in this little restaurant, but the execution was horrible. I really wanted to like the place as it is the perfect neighborhood restaurant. The food was good but was overshawdowed by the inept staff. The hostess was clearly hired for her looks, not for her ability to manage a busy restaurant. Her 20 minutes turned into an hour and not once did she check in with us to give us a status report. The waitress wasn't much better. She was nice enough, but that only goes so far. Maybe we caught her on her first night, but she didn't really know what she was doing, took way to long to let us order, and never checked in on us to see how things were.

            The restaurant is 100% hard surfaces, so it's not the place to have a conversation. Loud loud loud, so don't go and plan to have a conversation with your dinner date.

            On the plus side, the food was tasty. We both had the steak which was flavorful. The gals behind the bar were good and since we sat in there for over an hour, we had a good chance to observe them at work. I think the thing to do is sit at the bar and order your dinner. Screw the dining room with it's amateur staff and deafening noise.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Oakland

              Interesting. This is sort of the opposite of our experience. We got there earlier in the evening, so we didn't have to wait, although we did have drinks in the bar, which were quite good. We were then promptly seated by the owner (so we had no direct contact with the hostess). Our waitress was fairly attentive (not overwhelmingly so, but everything got to our table promptly and our bread was refilled quickly). My grilled seafood was good, but a bit too oily and buttery. My husband's lamb was cooked well, but the flavor was a bit lacking (the mashed potatoes were very good, however). It was overall a positive experience and I'd go again.