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Best Splurge Dinner in East Bay?

Maya Jul 5, 2007 04:41 PM

Family is coming into town for a milestone birthday celebration in August, staying at the Claremont. We are trying to think of a place for a gala celebration dinnr for 5-7 people. Any suggestions other than Chez Panisse? Any cuisine is good, and no price limit. Thanks!

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  1. Robert Lauriston RE: Maya Jul 5, 2007 04:46 PM

    Oliveto or Pizzaiolo.

    Topic from last year on precisely that question; no changes I can think of:


    5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

    Oliveto Cafe
    5655 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

    4 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston
      Ruth Lafler RE: Robert Lauriston Jul 5, 2007 05:09 PM

      While I loved the food at Pizzaiolo, I wouldn't call it a place for a special celebration. I can't think of any place in the East Bay that I'd choose for a "gala" or "splurge" "milestone" birthday. I really think for that kind of experience you need to go into the city for someplace like Boulevard.

      1. re: Ruth Lafler
        Robert Lauriston RE: Ruth Lafler Jul 5, 2007 05:16 PM

        Depends on what kind of gala you're planning. To me Boulevard's more of a place for a quiet dinner for two--wedding anniversary, say.

        Pizzaiolo's informal, but the food and wine are first-rate. Good place for a splurge birthday with noisy hilarity. Toss-up with a booth upstairs at Chez Panisse.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          PegS RE: Robert Lauriston Jul 6, 2007 03:26 PM

          I think of Pizzaiolo as a casual restaurant, not a special occasion site. I dunno, other than Oliveto---Bay Wolf? Or Rivoli? Even Zax as more of a splurge feel to it.

          1. re: PegS
            Robert Lauriston RE: PegS Jul 6, 2007 03:44 PM

            Considering only food and wine, to me the four top places in the East Bay are the two Chez Panisses, Oliveto, and Pizzaiolo. Nobody else comes close. (Dopo does for food but its wine list is very limited.)

            Of those four, for my birthday party I'd pick Pizzaiolo for its much livelier atmosphere and my personal favorite wine list (which includes some pretty splurgy bottles).

    2. Lori SF RE: Maya Jul 5, 2007 06:35 PM


      1. m
        Michael Rodriguez RE: Maya Jul 5, 2007 09:27 PM

        Oliveto--no question. Wonderful food.

        1. c
          cwujd1 RE: Maya Jul 5, 2007 09:30 PM

          Consider heading through the tunnel to Lafayette and going to Il Postino. Lovely atmosphere, good food, great service and generally not as crowded or harried as most places in SF or the Oakland/Berkeley area.

          - Chris

          2 Replies
          1. re: cwujd1
            zunzie RE: cwujd1 Jul 6, 2007 02:45 PM

            Postino has gone way, way, way downhill. I had lunch there a few months ago and I've had better panini at AG Ferrari.

            1. re: zunzie
              rsttm RE: zunzie Jul 6, 2007 03:16 PM

              lunch there sucks, dinner does not... postino is still a great dinner spot imo

          2. lexdevil RE: Maya Jul 5, 2007 09:34 PM

            If you're coming in LATE August, you might be here for the Tomato Dinners at Oliveto (August 29-31). The special dinners are always just that--special. And there's not much more wonderful than tomatoes in August. http://oliveto.com/calendar.html

            3 Replies
            1. re: lexdevil
              daveena RE: lexdevil Jul 5, 2007 10:30 PM

              Agree that if the timing of this dinner coincides with an Oliveto special dinner, to go to Oliveto. I will say that my non-special dinners at Oliveto have ranged from disappointing to pretty good, but this year's Oceanic Dinner ranks up there with my best meals of all time.

              For variety's sake, I'll add Rivoli and Jojo to the list of candidates.

              1. re: lexdevil
                Robert Lauriston RE: lexdevil Jul 6, 2007 09:04 AM

                I think I like Oliveto better on non-theme-dinner nights. It's usually only half-full, so it's quieter and more relaxed. In my experience (most recently last night), the food's just as good, and I don't feel so much like I have to taste everything on the menu.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  lexdevil RE: Robert Lauriston Jul 6, 2007 04:26 PM

                  A good point. Oliveto's occasional service issues are magnified when the house is packed. I also understand the frustration caused by wanting to try everything, but with 5-7 people you can come pretty close.

              2. bataille2 RE: Maya Jul 6, 2007 03:11 PM

                w/o a doubt, oliveto. pizzaiolo is where i meet my wife every other weekend or so for a great casual meal. oliveto isn't my idea of a "splurge" place(fleur de lys, gary danko, chez panisse downstairs fits my definition of "splurge more)but it's top notch on every level. it FEELS splurgy even if the pricetag isn't.

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