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adagia vs. oliveto in the east bay

I'll be visiting Berkeley soon and will have one night to eat out. The choices have been narrowed to these two. Does anyone have any thoughts on their relative merits and differences?

The menu at Oliveto reads more interesting to me, but Adagio's isn't unappealing. I'm not interested in overly formal, but good service is very important. Price doesn't matter.

http://www.adagiarestaurant.com
http://www.oliveto.com

Thanks for your help!

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  1. I've heard horror stories about Oliveto's service so if it's important, you may think twice. I've only heard good (if not great) things aboutt he food but the service stories have kept me from being a regular.

    1. Let me preface this by saying I've never been to Adagia -- nor have I ever heard of it (and my wife and I dine out frequently) -- so I'm not sure if this will be of any help.

      OK, that said, I am far from being a "regular" at Oliveto's, but I eat there perhaps -- what, 4-6 times a year? We always do the truffle dinner there, and to their "whole hog" dinner. The rest of the time, it's usually more of a casual drop in and eat downstairs.

      I have never had what I would call bad service at Oliveto's. I would say the service is somewhat "slow." Then again, I'm upstairs most often for their "special" meals and that can sometimes result in a harried staff. As a result, you sometimes have to ask for more water, or for a second look at the wine list (if I'm not bringing my own). But I've never had the waitstaff forget my food, spill soup in my lap, or ignore me . . .

      I wouldn't hesitate to pick Oliveto's.

      6 Replies
      1. re: zin1953

        The service at Oliveto used to be pretty erratic, but I haven't had any service problems in around ten visits over the past year and a half or so, since the new chef took over.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I had lunch there a couple of months ago and had horrible (will never eat there again) service upstairs. Food was good. But the place wasn't very busy and we had lots of gaps in ordering, timing of dishes and drink service. For the price, no way is this restaurant worth it. As for the food, it's good, but not worth what they charge. There are lots of places in Berkeley that make food as good but with better staff.

          1. re: sgwood415

            Oliveto makes the best Italian food in the Bay Area. The only place in the East Bay with food at that level is Chez Panisse.

            I've never been there for lunch so all my comments relate to dinner.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Yeah, I've heard some other people say that too. I just didn't see it when I went there. Seems like Oliveto is a bit controversial, I've seen it debated here before. Some people really don't care for it. I certainly wouldn't put it on the same level as Chez Panisse. But this is subjective territory. Maybe a good topic to debate today.

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            I am also a semi-regular at Oliveto and have NEVER had bad service. In fact, the service has always been warm, friendly and efficient.

            My only gripe last time was the prices. They've gotten higher and are now up there with the big boys. The time before that it was the overly hot peppers in the appetizer.

            1. re: oakjoan

              I think Oliveto's upstairs prices have been among the highest in the East Bay for quite a few years. Maybe since the $680,000 remodeling ten years ago.

              I find it a better value today than two or three years ago as portions are generally larger and entrees usually include sides.

        2. Adagia is an odd place. It's a beautiful room with a view of a courtyard and dorms. When I was there students were going up and down the elevator all evening. Also, the restrooms are in the courtyard, not in the restaurant. The service was so-so. The host, not the waiter, remembered to bring us bread after we'd already received our entrees. The food was good, but I honestly can't remember much about it. I think it's less expensive than Oliveto.

          1. Oliveto. The food is more imaginative and wonderfully prepared, the room more inviting and the service more professional, even when erratic (I think Adagia wait staff includes many students who are earnest but unpolished).

            1. If price doesn't matter, go to Oliveto. I like Adagia, but the two restaurants are not in the same league at all.