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Aug 31, 2006 10:04 PM

DiBartolo Restaurant - anyone been for food or drinks?

Looking for feedback on the DiBartolo Restaurant beside the Coffee shop on Grand Ave in Oakland. I've walked by but haven't had the opportunity to dine. Did notice there is a bar in the back. You'd think the bar would be up front to show the business is busy. But what do I know.

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  1. I've been in for drinks only. I agree it's odd to have the bar in back, but I assume there was some rationale. The bar was crowded and it was tough for staff to get through to pick up drinks for dinners. The staff were friendly and competent. They have some unusual house cocktails that were quite good from the tastes I stole from a friend. The menu looked a little uninspired, but perhaps it was a tad safe since it was their opening menu. The Lakeshore/Grand corridor could really use a good restaurant and bar, so I hope the place turns out well in the long run.

    If nothing else, I bet they serve great coffee :-)

    1. I had a good but not especially memorable meal there a couple weeks after it opened. We had a glass of bubbly at the bar and were seated after a few minutes. Shared a margherita pizza to start, then I had lamb chops, nicely medium rare... the food was fine, nothing spectacular. Service was not polished but very friendly. For me it's walking distance so I'll be back, but unless it improves I think Mezze on Lakeshore is a better bet in the neighborhood at that price point... though Mezze's prices may be just a bit higher.

      1. I had a meal there some time back that while not terrible, was definitely subpar for the price. Not sure how to do a link, but check out my previous post.

        1. We were strolling on Grand Avenue this evening, after a movie at the Grand Lake, and happened upon Di Bartolo. It looked promising, but we were in the mood for a cocktail and didn't see any sign of a bar. I'm glad we poked our noses in to ask -- we were directed to the swanky little bar at the back, and enjoyed a couple of Hendricks martinis and some terrific marinated olives before moving to a table for dinner. I'm pretty much a martini traditionalist, but I noticed a concoction on the cocktail menu -- Hangar One Buddha's Hand vodka with a house-made ginger syrup and black pepper -- that may prompt a return visit.

          For dinner we had a couple of salads -- a good Caesar with tasty marinated boquerones filling in for the usual salt-cured anchovies, and a lovely heirloom tomato and arugula salad with crumbled blue cheese (it was listed with shredded manchego, but changed without explanation). Then we had an excellent New York strip steak served over creamed corn and green beans, with a dish of fries on the side, tossed in minced garlic and herbs, and a seared sea-bass with white beans, fennel and a simple tomato sauce. We finished up by sharing a nectarine and berry crisp with vanilla ice-cream. I liked the wine-list, offering a range of unusual treats from all over. We had a delicious Justin tempranillo from Paso Robles.

          We'll definitely go back -- it's a surprising, sophisticated, urban space in this laidback Oakland neighborhhod, and the staff are well-trained and eager to please. The food is well-executed neighborhood fare, nothing out of the ordinary, but very satisfying. Next time, we'll stay at the bar and try the pizza...


          1. I've lived in this neighborhood for 21 years and during this time I have been watching it gracefully become one of the most interesting places to live in the bay area. Those of us who have lived here in the Grand/Lake area for some time are now getting to experience a vibrant transformation and influx of a well balanced cross-section of diverse cultural influences. The introduction of a few really good new restaurants over the past few years has added to the enjoyment of being here. I have been to di Bartolo's 5 times in the last month and a half and have yet to have a negative experience there. Granted, the wait staff is a little inexperienced, but they are learning and getting better at their jobs. I have never felt neglected or poorly served even during busy times and always have been treated courteously. I do find it a bit of a mystery that the layout is somewhat backward. An excellent and comfortable bar is located at the rear of the restaurant, but if one had never been in, it would be hard to know that the bar was there. Foodwise, the menu is rich and full of many well prepared dishes. The chef, Jason Wheeler, knows his craft. Since he has come on board, (he wasn't the original chef), the food has continued to improve and evolve into better and more interesting choices that are very well prepared and there is a good mixture of choices to satisfy a wide variety of tastes and preferences. I have had the chance to sample most of the items on the menu, sharing plates with friends and my wife, and have yet to find one that I would not order again. Even so, the menu continues to change and everytime I have come back, I have had the chance to find and explore new seasonal offerings, made with locally grown and raised ingredients. This is especially important to me. I believe in supporting local producers, and the menu here allows me to indulge without guilt. Will I return? Without question...I will be enjoying di Bartolo's on a regular basis. One of the many reasons to be happy and grateful to be living in Oakland right now, as it continues to express a new "renaissance" as a center of good living and eating and enjoying life at it's best.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Klein Blue

              I've also lived in the Grand Lake neighborhood for about 20 years. I, however, haven't noticed these new places opening up....I know Mezze, Arizmendi, Peets, DiBartolo...what else is there? The first 3 have been there for years. I have seen Autumn Moon close down (much to our distress) and loads of not very interesting places come and go.

              I just got takeout last night from a pretty bad Japanese restaurant, Mijori. The sushi and sashimi was okay, but the other stuff was blah.

              Please let me know where these new places are. I'm ready!

              1. re: Klein Blue

                Make sure you got to Coach Sushi! The old Mr. Sushi down by Zzaas. Excellent Sushi.