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Trattoria Siciliana [Berkeley]

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  • Garry Jun 3, 2005 12:46 AM
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We just moved to Berkeley and want to try Trattoria Siciliana on College. I heard you can only pay with cash. Is it expensive and is it worth it?
Thanks.

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  1. I have known the family since their restaurant 10 yrs ago in Pinole. Giuseppi and Rosa now spend half their time in Palermo, leaving the restaurant in the capable hands of their two sons. It is the best Sicilian/ Southern Italian food that I know of in the East Bay. I class it as moderately expensive. And yes, cash only. Be sure to report back.

    1 Reply
    1. re: yambu

      I have eaten only at La Spaghetitata first in Pinole and then El Sobrante. The best time to go is for an early evening or lazy afternoon dinner..then kick back and take all the time eating you want and the service is fine then. Otherwise the other times during rush hour can be long and somewhat frustrating waiting for food. But the chef was entertaining and comes out to see how you like his food and is really into cooking stuff. My wife loves the prawns pesto pasta and we also love the calamari insalada..quite good. The red dishes are also quite good. Didn't have the nerve to order the sea urchin but did watch another table order it and it was quite a treat to watch someone else eat it. Love to hear they are still in business and will visit in Sept. coming in from Las Vegas. BTW does anyone have any idea where the best Sicilian food in Vegas is???? Something along the lines of this place??? Thanks

    2. Yes, it is cash only. It is about mid-range, pricewise, and totally worth it. I'm not a huge fan of pesto, but I saw a lot of people eating it and decided to order it since it looked wonderful. It was a creamy pesto with shrimp and I practically licked the plate clean. All the waitstaff were very attentive and friendly.

      I'd recommend getting reservations though, since it can get pretty packed. Even then you could be looking at a 10-15 minute wait. But I've heard that if you have a long wait on the bench in front of the kitchen, sometimes the chefs will give you a glass of wine and have drink with you.

      1. Twogreat meals there about 1-2 years ago. Sicilian wine selections were good as I remember. There's supposed to be a good Italiam place nearby that is not so well known or crowded.

        1. I had an hour long wait there on a Saturday night for 5 people a few years back. The food was great - especially the complimentary bread/dip and the pasta in a tomato cream sauce with peas. Sorry I can't be more specific. The restaurant has had mixed reviews on Chowhound; you may want to do a search.

          2 Replies
          1. re: katya
            r
            Robert Lauriston

            As Italian food goes, it's cheap. Most places in or below its price range aren't very good. The only place I can think of where you can get better Italian food for the same price is Dopo, which has higher wine prices.

            Most of the complaints have regarded service. When it's busy, which it usually is, the place can be pretty chaotic with long waits. The wine's cheap, drink up and relax.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Robert's absolutely right. Don't go if you like to have your meal perfectly paced with refined service.

              We enjoy watching them run around dealing with the chaos and so we sit back and don't worry about whether we're waiting too long for our drinks or whatever. But we've definitely avoided taking friends who aren't able to enjoy a more liberal concept of good service. I can't imagine you would get rude service, but it can sure be bumpy.

              And yes, the bread with flavored oil makes waiting easier. Our food choices have been pretty hit-or-miss, but I would attribute that more to personal preference than anything else.

              I think most entrees are in the $14-18 range, so if you're new to the area, I'd give it a try and see if it's your thing.

          2. Not expensive (imho) and definitely worth it! The pesto is awesome and I had a butternut squash risotto that was simply amazing! The daily specials are always nice. I will be eating there again soon.

            1. I think it's actually Trattoria LA Siciliana.

              The parents' restaurant in El Sobrante was La Spaghettata. The woman who cuts my hair (from Puglia) loved that place and told me about it and La Trattoria.

              I don't know if they still have it, but there was a table in the window on the left as you walk in that was really tight quarters. Your arm bumped into the wall as you cut your meat.

              1. o
                oaklandfoodie

                Have been many times and recommend it. They only take reservations for a party of four or more I believe, and then you must order family style. The best lobster ravioli I have every had, everytime I drive by I look to see if it is on the specials board...

                1. We had a very nice meal here. I first ate here about ten years ago and was very pleased, but since then, every time I passed by at dinnertime, there was a large crowd of people waiting outside. So I never returned. Last Friday at dinnertime there were tables open! So the three of us went in. They were doing a very good business -- almost full. During our dinner I saw a few people waiting outside.

                  Short story: good food, good service, very noisy upstairs, cash only, huge menu.

                  We ordered mostly off the "February Specials" menu (not on line) which had about 25 items. We ordered starters from the "specials" menu: fried smelt ($9); perfectly fried, piping hot (the servers scamper up and down the stairs), accompanied by a tangy aioli. We also had butternut squash agrodolce (sweet and sour), a cold dish, very tasty, and a cheese-stuffed Portobello mushroom that was very rich.

                  For mains we had seafood risotto, bucatini with sardines (from the main menu) and the ragu special. All very good; my two companions could only finish half their mains and we skipped dessert.

                  The bread is accompanied by an amazing dipping sauce of oil, chopped raw garlic, parsley, hot pepper and coarse salt. I put the remains of it on my ragu which was a bit subdued.

                  Corkage is $15. They have a huge wine list but I did not look at it.

                  I am a cheapskate, so for me it was a splurge. But others might find the prices reasonable. Portions are generous. Mains on the regular menu are about $15, on the special menu $16-$18.

                  http://www.trattorialasiciliana.com/

                  2993 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705
                  (510) 704-1474

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Joel

                    Agree that dipping sauce is phenomenal. First time we tried it, like you about 10 or 15 yrs ago, my DH was finally converted to the idea that EVOO could be just as good with bread as butter is!

                    They used to sell it, in fact. I remember buying a couple of bottles as Xmas presents one year. Anyone know if they still sell the stuff? Very pretty, the layers of herbs and color from the hot pepper flakes, in nice little glass decanters.