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Pasta Pomodoro [El Cerrito]

  • r

Food karma.

A friend wanted to go to lunch today and suggested Pasta Pomodoro.

This was ok’d, because this was a type of restaurant she would enjoy and partly due to curiosity because of some recent discussions on the board.

It is a chain. The post is on the General Board (link below).

It has been a long time since I’ve eaten at Pasta Pomodoro (not wise to abbreviate this restaurant to initials).

The North Beach restaurant (pre Wendy’s days) was never amazing, but they had some good food at good prices.

And to borrow from another post about the Noe Valley location, as far as El Cerrito is concerned we were happy with “the quality, variety, and quantity of the food and the friendliness and competence of the staff, given the small size of the final bill”.

Steamed mussels are $5.95. Soup, salad, foccacia can cost as little as $4.25.

Someone was complaining on this board that unlike European restaurants, few restaurants serve a reasonably priced glass of wine just to enjoy with a meal. Pasta Pomodoro had a few glasses of wine for $3.50 and they weren’t any of the usual suspects at that price. They also had some micro brews available.

As the Noe Valley post respectfully stated “With all to attention paid to Delfina, A16, Incanto and the like [ justly deserved IMO], I just want to mention what a great value the PP's continue to be for a "no big production" meal out”

However, within that thread, while there was quite a bit of Pasta Pomodoro bashing, very few people came up with non chain restaurants in that neighborhood where someone could get a comparable meal for the price. Only Noe Valley Pizza Restaurant and Verona Pizza were briefly mentioned.

So if there is an Italian restaurant near El Cerrito where there’s an Italian lunch at comparable or better quality and price, that info would be appreciated.

The other Italian joints in the nabe don’t serve lunch or are pretty horrid and expensive

Berkeley/Oakland wasn’t an option because my friend is elderly and parking is an issue. Strings is down the street, but I had not tried it and didn’t want to take a chance. Never been to Angelo’s, but it looks more like just a sandwich shop. Not sure if La Scala was open for lunch, but, not only is it under renovation, but the road in front of it is being repaved as well. It was too noisy, dirty and too much of a hassle.

Anyway, it was a last minute thing, so it seemed the best option in the area. We were pleased with it.

I am not unaware of the difference between a Pasta Pomodoro being located in El Cerrito vs North Beach. I get a little insane when I see a Starbucks next to a local coffee shop. However, even in North Beach, there are just times when it fits the circumstances.

Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

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  1. Occasionally, I go to the North Beach location. I is consistent, although the menu is in a constant state of change. The food is good and a great value. I find the pasta and other dishes better than you get at many places, such as Original Joe's. It is not in the same league as Ideale, Cafe Macaroni, etc. and it does not pretend to be.

    That it has become a chain over the years is not important. The food, prices and being a responsible business (treating staff well, being a good neighbor, etc.) is what is important. I feel that they do a great job.

    I am not embarassed by saying I go there. To the contrary, I think that any objective Chowhoud should be able to go to any restaurant and evaluate it based upon the quality of the food, the service, the prices, etc. and not base the evaluation upon the ownership, and more importantly on this board, the flak they may receive from other, non-objective Chowhounds.

    1 Reply
    1. re: george
      r
      Robert Lauriston

      Other than Fatapple's, El Cerrito's notable restaurants are all Asian.

      All opinions are subjective.

    2. This is a really nice post--and you have tempered my ill-temper about this Pasta Pomodoro location. In fact, I can't think of a comparable lunch place in El Cerrito, which is probably why I was so disappointed. (Especially comparing it to the San Ramon location, which I do like.)

      1. Strings, jeez, in El Cerrito? I go to the one in Livermore for lunch, very occasionally, and generally walk out asking myself why I walked in. If you get the chance to pass on it, do so.

        1. I think whether something is a chain or not is much less important than whether it is the best option for the area. Sounds like it's a good option based on parking and location for you.

          I would *love* to have a Fresh Choice or a Sweet Tomatoes in downtown Oakland. Not for the prepared food, but for the make-your-own salad bar with tons of different veggies. I would eat there once a week, chain or no chain, because that's exactly what I want... but the nearest one is about 20mins away. Factoring gas in, it's not worth it.

          On the other hand, I stay far, far away from the La Salsa in Oakland city center. Taqueria del Sol, Gordo Burrito, Axtlan, and even Happy Burrito serve better food and are non-chains. (actually, I stay away from all restaurants in city center, for much the same reason) I cannot imagine going to a McDonalds instead of Gourmet Burger, or even Bistro Burger. But those are cases where there are choices.

          But I don't promise to go our of my way to drive up to El Cerrito to try out Pasta Pomodoro...

          1. Hey,

            Angelos is a Italian American Deli and has been there since dinosaurs roamed the earth. You should go in and get a sandwich at least once. Zarri's in Albany is FAR better, just in case you were wondering.
            What you need to do, sometime when you're brave and don't mind ruining your lunch. Go visit the Hacienda across the street. You just gotta, just once, just for fun.
            You could try Strings, I went a few times when it opened. Seemed okay, I believe PP is a cut above and definately closer.
            We haven't had decent Italian restaurant in this area since The Silver Dollar. Oddly enough, I think Strings is sitting where The Silver Dollar used to be. It's pretty pathetic when we have PP and Strings as our choice for this area.

            Biggles

            Biggles

            10 Replies
            1. re: Dr. Biggles
              r
              Robert Lauriston

              Mangia Mangia in Albany is decent.

              Link: http://www.miamangiamangia.com/menu.htm

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Yup, Albany has Solano avenue. El Cerrito don't got that. Maybe some day. I heered of a decent suishi place in Hercules so anything is possible.

                http://www.shinsensushi.com/index.htm

                1. re: Dr. Biggles

                  Yeah, but John Birdsdale did mention Shinsen and Pasta Pomodoro in the same sentence. Talk about yer food karma. Full circle from Pasta Pomodoro to Shinsen ... and, I guess Birdsdale is a Pomodoro man. I hope I'm not someday defending the honor of Shinsen when it gets taken over by McDonald's.

                  Well, glad he liked that empanada at Sunshine and the chow at Vivian's.

                  And you know, I forgot all about Giovanni's in Pinole which DOES serve lunch and has a nice Italian menu in addition to tons of parking. Have also been meaning to get back to Four Corners pizza in Crockett to try the meals. Pizza was great. Next time.

                  Link: http://ae.contracostatimes.com/entert...

              2. re: Dr. Biggles

                ...we used to drive from Berkeley to San Pablo to eat at Berola's, if you can believe it.

                1. re: Shep

                  Wasn't that Bertola's?

                  There were two of them, one at where telegraph and shattuck meet and one in Richmond. I went to the one in Berkeley because it was closer to where I was living at the time, 1985. I liked them because you could get a triple gin & tonic for 2 or 2.50 all day and all night. Triple long islands were 3.00.

                  All gone.

                  Biggles

                  1. re: Dr. Biggles

                    Still one in San Lorenzo, on Hesperian by the old Lorenzo Theater. Mostly to go, and it's the same food as the other two locations, but without the triples.

                    1. re: Shep

                      Really? Every time I drive by there is appears to be closed -- I had assumed it was long defunct, like the ones in Oakland and Berkeley.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Looking at the map, there is a
                        Louie Bertola's Restaurant
                        611 Escobar St, Martinez, Ca

                        Nothing is showing up for Berola's or Bertola's in San Lorenzo

                        Sorry, doing my own little restaurant map thing ... I'm currintly doing El Cerrito Restaurants and Food
                        http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF...

                        Helps me find my own stuff easier and find places I want to go when I'm in that city ... Anyhoo ... when a Place record doesn't have any pertinant information in the search link ... I'm adding a link to my OP ... the reason for the link in this 2005 post. Shep don't post anymore unfortunately.

                        There's a ton of LA fried chicken posts, but usually one-liners and about other locations.

                    2. re: Dr. Biggles

                      Omigod! That certainly brings back memories. Bertolis or Bertolas, whatever. Their dinners were sooo cheap and it was always crowded. Can't remember the food but we did go there regularly back in the early 80s. Now it's gone and so is Kaspar's Triangle Hot Dog place there where Telly and Shattuck meet..

                      1. re: oakjoan

                        Ha, my Dad went to Bertolas in college 50+ years ago. Besides the dinners, the drinks were really cheap too. Years later I went to Bertola for the same reason. The house made bread was very good for the time. If I recall they had three grades of drinks.

                2. it's owned by wendy's.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: anton

                    It is? Who would have guessed. I hear it's a chain too.

                    Why oh why didn't I remember Giovannis. If only I had friends on the staff at this place.

                    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                    1. re: rworange

                      A CHAIN? Oh, the horror. I actually thought Wendy's had a bout a 25% stake, rather than full ownership.

                      Busily searching for a locally owned gas station that locates, pumps, refines, and serves only its own fine blend of fuel, I remain,

                      Disconsolate.

                  2. link

                    -----
                    Pasta Pomodoro
                    5040 El Cerrito Plz, El Cerrito, CA 94530

                    1. Completely agree with you about the value for a convenient casual meal. It is my go-to place in Noe Valley when dining with young children. It's loud enough that they don't mind if a two year old is screaming. In terms of the food, the polenta farcita and the rigatoni bolognese are decent as are some the specials.

                      As far as the bashing, it's a chain but founded in SF, so kudos to its success.
                      http://www.noevalleyvoice.com/2006/Fe...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: wanderlust21

                        Hey Pomodoro sure beats Applebee's, Denny's and that sort of stuff. Seems to me like a decent, honest choice. Sure it's a chain but they're only cooking pasta.

                        1. re: wanderlust21

                          A friend was in town for the Women's Marathon last weekend and called me Saturday eve looking for a pasta place to load up at. She has enough food issues to qualify for a subscription rate (she peels her mushrooms...) so I sent her to PP in North Beach on Union St.. She and her two companions who I didn't know at all loved it, inexpensive, fast, tasty and not too challenging. The only complaint was that the glass of wine was a bit skimpy.

                          She's pretty much the ideal chain resto customer, her favorite place is Claim Jumpers.

                          I used to live in the city within walking distance of the first PP in Cow Hollow. I'd sit at the bar and marvel at the operation. It was all but printing money, the take out alone was huge.

                        2. If I am correct and there is a Pasta Pomodoro in the Strawberry Mall in Mill Valley, does anyone know if its any good? I always go to the Pizza Antica there, which can be quite good, but really noisy.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: annabana

                            Yep, there's one in Strawberry Mall. It is not getting nice things said about it on Yelp, bu,t ya know, you don't know who's reporting. Have you tried Gira Polli down the road on E Blithesdale ... though they are only open for dinner.

                          2. For "edible" Italian food in a shopping mall in El Cerrito I prefer Romano's Macaroni Grill in EC Plaza. Large portions, small prices, cheap wine, pretty good bread, comfortable booths.

                            Biggles: Hacienda (across the street from Angelo's) had been out of business for at least a year. And ah, for the old days, when The Silver Dollar and Bertola's (in San Pablo) were churning out huge cheap meals and cheap drinks. And at Bertola's you could get actually get rare prime rib--and their soup was pretty good as well.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: dlglidden

                              Oh man, too bad about Hacienda ... sort of ... I think. It was hard to tell if it was evern open. As long as one car was parked in the general vicinity, I assumed it was still open.

                              1. re: rworange

                                Yeah. The food was pretty bad but it was open until 2 AM and you could go in and get an enchilada plate and a margarita after all the other restaurants had closed. And in all the times I ate there I don't think the restaurant was more than 10% filled.

                                The building still has a free-hanging plasticized banner advertising cheap lunches. Apparently the building's owners don't want to spend the money to buy a ladder and take down the banner. RIP Hacienda and Lucky's/Albertsons.

                              2. re: dlglidden

                                I've only eaten at Macaroni Grill once (in Colorado Springs -- in some places, chains are popular for a reason!), and I seem to remember it being on the expensive side for a chain. More expensive than I remember PP being the one time I went there.

                              3. thanks rworange, gira polli is a long time fave, love the chicken of course and the linguini with clams is good, though it could use more clams.

                                1. While it's true that Pomodoro isn't the best Italian restaurant in the Bay Area, that just goes to show how spoiled we are here. It's reliable, fresh and simple. And if you don't think you like brussels sprouts, think again and try them here.