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Mar 22, 2007 08:07 PM


Please help!

Looking for rec's for a romantic birthday dinner in Oakland or Berkeley. Quiet, romantic, great food. I'm not too familiar with the East Bay, so could use some help!

Oliveto? Garibaldi's? Chez Panisse (although not sure if it's within my budget!)?


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  1. Chez Panisse would be good, if it's within your budget. If not, I'd suggest Jojo -- it's on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland, consistently good food, excellent service, and is a very romantic setting.

      1. I think Garibaldi is more a 6-person dinner party or business lunch kind of place.

        Rivoli on Solano. Short menu doesn't distract from the occasion and full of quality--especially (IIRC) a portabello mushroom appetizer that used to be one of the few consistent items on the menu. Room isn't very private feeling, but maintains a nice hushed vibe for special occasion. Go during daylight to enjoy the ambience added by the garden outside.

        1 Reply
        1. re: j_b

          I second Rivoli on Solano, they've never disappointed on numerous special occasions. Let them know ahead that it's a special day and they will put Happy Birthday confetti on the table which is pretty cute. Of course, the portabella mushroom appetizer is something not to miss...

        2. Bistro Liaison is a nice option - good food, sophisticated yet comfy interior, and good value.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Maple

            Never been to Oliveto's, but from what I've read this isn't a place I would personally choose for romantic.

            I think Jojo is the most romatic place I've been in the East Bay with good food. Great house champagne.

            I understand that Chez Panisse has some sort of alcove upstairs in the cafe that is supposed to be private if you didn't want to go for the downstairs restaurant. That is cozy and could be romantic.

            Rivoli has tables close together. As for the table in the corner for maximum privacy. You might drop by to scope out the place to get the table that is off by itself.

            1. re: rworange

              Agreed on Jojo -- I was just there tonight, and it's a very warm and cozy little place, and the food is reliably good.

              Also on Garibaldi: I like the food there, but it's pretty expensive, and also very loud.

              1. re: rworange

                I don't know about the alcove in the Chez Panisse Cafe, but my husband and I went there for an anniversary dinner last week, and it was so noisy that I had a headache after about 10 minutes. I think the noise level would have been given a little bomb symbol by the Chronicle restaurant critics. It was also cozy inasmuch as the tables were *really* close together. I was lucky the candle at the table next to ours wasn't lit yet when I squeezed into my seat or my bum would have gone up in flames. (Food and service were excellent, though.)

              2. re: Maple

                I find the food at Bistro Liaison to be uninspired. Ingredient quality is markedly inferior for Berkeley.

              3. While I know it is not exactly high end, when we lived in the East Bay, we often went to Cafe Mediterranee (sp?) on College whenever we needed an infusion of romantic atmosphere. Chez Panisse does have that nice cafe upstairs that feels cozy if you get the right table. I love the food at Oliveto, but the atmosphere leaves me cold. There is a little cafe down the street whose name escapes me that features tremendous pizza and regional Italian dishes--help me out here, Chowhounds, what's it called?

                4 Replies
                1. re: aelliottsherman

                  Hmm, are you talking about Dopo? It's not down the street from Oliveto, but it's close by, and fits the description, it's the only place around that I can think of that has good pizza and regional Italian. I love Dopo, but it's not particularly romantic, and you can't make a reservation, which makes it difficult for this kind of thing.

                  1. re: JasmineG

                    I love Dopo too, but it's not right for the OP - too loud and casual, lots of kids running around, etc.

                  2. re: aelliottsherman

                    La Mediterranee is dark but the food would kill any sense of romance for me.

                    For Middle Eastern, romantic, and low price, Zatar.

                    1. re: aelliottsherman

                      You're thinking of La Mediterranee. I always liked going here - has the feel of a neighborhood restaurant, and entrees are under $10.