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Thoughts on Venezia and Bobby G's in Berkeley?

Had to make a decision b/w Venezia and Bobby G's last night, and I ended up picking Bobby G's. We were both impressed by the thin, crisp crust of the pizza (we ordered the Margherita), and the homemade focaccia of the chicken pesto panini. Not bad for a casual, inexpensive weeknight dinner.

So, I wanted to hear what others thought of these two places?

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  1. Never been to Bobby G's, but I'm guessing you made the right decision.

    Venezia, IMHO, is only a good place for large groups of non foodies. They make lots of classic red sauce italian type dishes. Execution is mediocre from my couple of experiences.

    1. Thanks for the Bobby G's heads up. Place was totally under my radar. Organic ingredients and reasonable prices - if the food is good, this could easily become part of my regular rotation (except they need beer. Pizza without beer is like, well, pizza without beer.) You didn't happen to ask where they source their chicken, did you?

      Heck, they even have a well designed web site:
      http://www.bobbygspizzeria.com/

      Haven't been to Venezia, mostly because I've heard nothing but negative comments from friends and coworkers.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Morton the Mousse

        Ah shoot! Didn't ask about the chicken... sorry!

        Yeah, I mean, its not Pizzaiolo, but for an inexpensive bite to eat in the downtown area, I think it beats most other options in the same catagory. Better than the typical college food.

        I really enjoyed the pizza crust. Not as flavorful as I would've liked, but where it lacked in flavor, it made up for in texture. Thin, airy, crisp. And, crisp all the way to the center of the pie, not just around the edges, so that the center flops when you try to pick it up and eat it. They made the panini (technically panino, but who cares?) the way I make them at home. We've been on a quest to find someone who actually presses their panini so that it gets crusty on the outside. They did it. And with the addition of fresh pesto and big oozing slabs of fresh mozzarella, it was delish.

        Re: beer... their website says that they are in the process of obtaining their liquor licence. So, hopefully you'll be in luck soon. As for me, I was happy with my bottle of San Pellegrino.

        And, to top it all off, the serve Three Twins Ice Cream! What more could you want?

        1. re: chemchef

          No worries. I'm fully aware of how crazy I am. Seems weird to me to bother with organic dough and organic tomato sauce and then serve industrial chickens, but you never know. I'm sure I'll check it out in the next few weeks and I'll inquire about it then.

          Yeah, I wish I could afford to eat at Pizzaiolo on a random Wednesday night. But Bobby G's seems perfect for one of those budget dinners when I've had enough of Picante.

          1. re: Morton the Mousse

            LOL! Yeah, we're a lot alike...

            Anyway, I hope you'll report back after you try them.

          2. re: chemchef

            They have their liquor license, and are serving an excellent selection of local beers on tap. Wines too, though I can't really comment on the quality of the offerings.

            They use Niman Ranch for some of the meats, and try and stick to all natural/hormone and antibiotic free suppliers. Bobby hopes to make more of the ingredients organic without upping prices much as the place becomes established.

        2. Venezia's okay but Dopo and Pizzaiolo are a lot better.

          Previous reports on Bobby G's:

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/356374

          1. I rather like Venezia. Nothing that's likely to blow anyone's doors off, just competent occasionally a bit oddly adventurous old-schoolish Italian. What it does best is fills that niche every college town needs where parents visiting the kid at school can safely take her and the new boyfriend for an inoffensive, relatively inexpensive dinner.

            The spaghetti with (two, giant) meatballs is one of my favorite happy meals. Feeling a bit down? Let's go get some Giant Meatballs! Works every time.

            The waitstaff is managed with military dicipline. By someone who knows what they're doing. The robotic precision is almost a little eerie sometimes.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Chuckles the Clone

              I haven't been to Venezia in years (used to live in Berkeley but no longer). I used to go there for basically one thing, though. They had the best Carbonara I've ever had. Crispy pancetta, cheese and egg. Very little cream, if any. In many places, the pasta is drowning in sauce. I hope to get back soon to see if it's still good.

              1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                Agreed - i've been very happy with my Venezia experiences.

              2. I used to hear a lot about Venezia when I was in college, but the last couple times I've gone the food was very ordinary, and either too bland or too salty.

                And even though I haven't been to Bobby G's, I'm gonna guess it's your better option. Or perhaps Fellini's down University.

                5 Replies
                1. re: nicedragonboy

                  Gosh, even Robert got stomped on when he did a favorable report on Fellini. I sort of agreed with him ... or at least my understanding. Fillinis isn't bad, it just isn't as good as other area restaurants so it makes it hard to stop there. The food is decent enough but there are better places.

                  The carbonara seems to be the thing a Venezia as it has been mentioned many times over the years on the board as the best in the Bay Area despite using pancetta instead of what is traditionally used (I forget).

                  I want to get over to Venezia for one of its monthly wine dinners. This month on the 7th it is sake
                  http://cafevenezia.com/page/14lv9/Win...

                  That being said, Venezia gets mentioned more as a good festive place rather than for food.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Here's my lukewarm report on Venezia's Croatian wine dinner:

                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39269...

                    Fellini's okay. I've eaten there mostly because it's one of the few places open till 10 on weeknights. Very vegan- / vegetarian-friendly, no red meat, nice folks, cozy place on a cold night.

                    http://www.fellinirestaurant.net/cont...

                    1. re: rworange

                      Guanciale is traditionally used for carbonara, although many places use bacon, so I'm happy when they actually use pancetta.

                      1. re: chemchef

                        Venezia uses bacon. At least they dropped their old $1 supplement for goat cheese.

                        http://cafevenezia.com/page/o0gx/Dinn...

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Venezia's osso buco used to be outstanding: tender, gelatinous, covered with roasted red and green bell peppers and garlic cloves. I haven't had it in a while, though, so it might have gone downhill. I once made the mistake of ordering venison osso buco there: it was dry and tough. But I had a great quail and truffle special there one night that had me licking the plate. It's very up and down in my experience.

                  2. I have been to Venezia several times and loved it. My company uses their banquet room when we have visitors from out of the country. Everyone loves it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: carmyn

                      Venezia used to be good...20 years ago.

                      Back before they moved and were in the smaller space, they were great!

                      Now I would not eat there again if you paid me.

                      Bad service ,below average food, creepy vibe.

                    2. Links:

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                      Bobby G's Pizzeria
                      2074 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                      Venezia Italian Restaurant
                      1799 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94703