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Jan 15, 2005 01:09 PM

C'era una Volta in Alameda

  • r

Had a very good meal at C'era una Volta in Alameda last night. I love that they give you a price break if you order a full Italian meal--$35 for three courses, $40 with dessert. Service a little scattered but the friendly atmosphere and charming owner more than make up for it.

Antipasti, we had the cold plate (salami, cheese, vegetables) and some sauteed shrimp, both good though the shrimp weren't particularly Italian. Primi, "lobster" ravioli (I think really fish ravioli with some lobster in the sauce) and porcini ravioli, both very good, properly al dente and ample servings. Secondi, fabulous boar stew with barley, and a nice grilled salmon which wasn't very Italian. Dolci, good Italian-style ricotta cheesecake, in authentically moist and the better for it, and very good cassata. Drank a 2003 verdicchio and a 2003 Cantina Bolzano "La Pergola" lagrein, both fresh and fruity and a good match for the food.

All in all an exceptional value and a very pleasant evening, especially with a stop at Lucky Ju Ju Pinball on the way home. Next time I'll be careful to make sure I order all Italian dishes, and probably won't go when I'm in the mood for fish rather than red meat.


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  1. [hopefully updating an old thread like this is okay]

    Went to C'era una Volta last night with my wife and 2 year old. The food and service were both very good. The wine list was great, and we enjoyed the two wines we had.

    I was surprised, though, that the menu is pretty unimaginative. Pasta was either penne or spaghetti (and a ravioli dish and gnocci), with variations of standard sounding pomodoro sauce or red meat sauce or cream sauce. They had a cheese plate, which was nice, but the cheeses were mozzerella, brie and parmigiano. Brie???

    That said, they do have a "rabbit of the day", which this time was roasted rabbit in a "stew" of what seemed to be broth and carmelized seasonings and herbs. It was rich and fatty, but very tasty. Salads and desserts all sounded good. Was told the chef was from Lucca. Perhaps the menu is aimed at their main clientèle.

    Prices were reasonable, and it was filling up towards 6:45 when we left.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bryan Gros

      I am pleased to read that both you and Robert had pleasant meals at C'era una Volta - that means that our Saturday Brunch was a fluke of poor service and disappointing food! Our birthday guest did not complain about his omelette - but a guest seldom does - and the other cheese and ham omelette order pleased its recipient so I want to believe that it was mom said that her Ravioli di Spinachi was served cold but she didn't mention that until the next day. My Farfalle al Salmone was a simple white sauce with bits of smoked salmon for flavor - the pasta was al dente - the sauce was warm, not exciting but not inedible. I would expect a chef from Lucca to do better - but perhas, that is reserved for dinner service. According to the menu description, the pastas are served with salads but our pastas were without and when we asked our server, she said she would check with the kitchen, and then she disappeared. Long after we finished, she returned with the check and two salad plates, commenting that it was "better late, than never." No bread refills, no coffee refills. There were empty tables at our early seating so I can't excuse the neglect for "being overwhelmed with customers" and I noticed our server standing and chatting with other staff as we waited. I can only surmise that she is untrained and inexperienced,... and that Brunch is a different animal entirely. It would certainly appear from reading other CH posts that dinner is time to enjoy C'era Una Volta.

      1. re: Cynsa

        Brunch is not a very Italian concept. Though neither are cold ravioli.