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East Bay Help Needed!

I'm visiting on business from NYC and staying in Emeryville. Have 1 night free and would like to try a great place near my hotel - Oakland, Emeryville or Berkeley. I am with a colleague so I can't get too funky, but am looking for an upper end (expense account) place with subtle offerings. I know that is pretty broad, but with only one night what can you do. I have already checked Chez Panisse and no dice.

Thanks for your help.

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  1. Oliveto

    Oliveto Cafe
    5655 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

    7 Replies
    1. re: kc72

      Check my reports on TAIWAN located on University. This is for authentic Taiwanese specialties not for Americanized chinese food. TAIWAN is simply asesome for those who love authentic Taiwanese food.

      Some of my faves: oyster omelette, south style noodle soup (clear), 5 spice beef, tofu skin pork rolls. These are stellar dishes executed close to perfection. Come during their weekend lunch specials for inexpensive authentic Taiwanese dishes.

      1. re: Han

        I don't think Taiwan Restaurant fits the 'upper end/expense acct' type place the OP was searching for

        1. re: kc72

          Nor does it fit the "not too funky" criterion.

        2. re: Han

          are you sure about that?
          is this a branch of Taiwan Restaurant in the richmond?
          i made the mistake of going to Taiwan Restaurant on clement street in the richmond and it was beyond horrible. i can tell by the accent that some of the staff members were indeed taiwanese, but there was nothing authentic about their food whatsoever.

          1. re: inmandarin

            For whatever reason, the one in the Richmond is below average. It's been years since i've been to the Berkeley one myself, but it has a much better rep.

            1. re: inmandarin

              A long, long time ago I went to Taiwan on University with my Dad. We ordered a few dishes including a fish. We went through what kind of fish, how many pounds, if it was fresh, etc. Well the fish came out and it was obviously previously frozen...and it was bad.

              There was a conversation about the fish, mildly terse words said and then we left. I've never walked out of a restaurant and my Dad is from the era of "you better eat everything in front of you even if it literally makes you sick because there will be no waste." I think the final insult wasn't so much the frozen fish per se, but how much they wanted to charge for the frozen fish. For a fresh fish it would have been pricey, for an obviously frozen fish, it was nuts.

              Any way, never been to the Berkeley or Clement outlet since. Don't ever think I'll return either.

              1. re: ML8000

                thanks for the insight ML8000 and Melanie Wong. yeah, having not such a good feeling about the one on clement street, it was sort of my immediate reaction to brush off the other in berkeley.

        3. Either Eccolo or Rivoli would work as well.

          1820 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710

          Rivoli Restaurant
          1539 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

          1. Oliveto is in a class by itself.
            I wish I could afford it.
            Be sure you get the upstairs -- the downstairs is just a cafe.

            1. Oliveto as mentioned below is top notch--even the downstairs with the great pizzas are to die for. Trader Vic's is always a good expense account place-- Check out Kirala for good sushi in Berkeley (sit at the bar if you can) where you can run up a serious tab. In a pinch Cesar on Piedmont Avenue is awesome( hip, cool)- also Baywolf which is 2 blocks away(older crowd, EXCELLENT food-- just was there last week

              1. A few other places to consider

                - Sea Salt
                - Diggs Bistro
                - Fonda
                - Dona Tomas

                I haven't tried it yet but Pizzaolio

                You can find out more info by checking Places at the top of this page. Hope you will report back on what you tried.

                2 Replies
                1. re: rworange

                  I thnk Pizzaolio is way, way better than Dona Tomas [they are next door to one
                  another]. I wouldnt blow an expense account dinner at DT.

                  It can be a little hard to get an RSVP at Pizzaolio, but it otherwise excellent.

                  Convenient to Emeryville.

                  1. re: psb

                    While I like Pizzaiolo, it might fall in the funky category with the loud music and tattooed waitstaff.

                2. I don't do expensive-account, so this a list of places I've gone to for before-theater or birthday dinners:

                  On Solano:
                  Rivoli, Fonda, 6 Degrees, Vanessa's Bistro (maybe)

                  Sea Salt

                  I haven't tried Downtown or Digg's Bistro, but they're on my list.

                  These places aren't fancy or expensive, but they all seem a bit special, adult, "subtle."

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Glencora

                    I would've added Bay Wolf and Oliveto, only I haven't been to either in years. I also used to like Bucci's in Emeryville. Has anyone been lately?

                  2. Wood Tavern in on College in Oakland is excellent, elegant and in my opinion, much better than 6 Degrees on Solano, for example. Pizziaolo and Fonda would be fun, real Bay Area experiences with excellent food, but they can be astronomically loud and they're kind of local hangout not too elegant, like Cesar. The noise might bother your companion, I agree Pizziaolo is better than Dona Tomas.

                    Bay Wolf on Piedmont Avenue and JoJo are both super good and more elegant than some of the others recommended.

                    Sea Salt is very nice and you'd both really enjoy it but it's not really upper end. The new Maritime East has gotten great reviews here but I haven't tried it so I can't say if it's more of a white-tablecloth place.

                    Actually, if this isn't absolutely what you don't want to do, it's not really much if any further to the City for some of the more legendary restaurants than Solano Avenue in Berkeley. The traffic in the evening is pretty heavy up 80 and may be light across the Bay Bridge. If it's not a Friday or Saturday evening you're going out, you might get into some place waaaay higher-end than the suggestions in the East Bay other than Chez Panisse or Oliveto upstairs (which is often over-salted in my opinion.)

                    1. Oliveto. There are lots of great casual, mid-priced suggestions on this thread, but Oliveto is the true "upper end (expense account)" experience. Elegant ambience, phenomenal food, prices that make me wish I could expense account the meal.

                      1. There are far larger italian communities in NY than here, so i'm not sure if italian food is really something you'd like to have while you're out here. i'd go with something more unique and different like Lagosia. but that might not fit your non-funky preference.

                        1725 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94703

                        1. I keep posting about it but I can't help myself. Riva Cucina in Berkeley near Scharffenberger, if you can get in for dinner: the chestnut pasta is the single best pasta dish I've ever had, including in Italy, including homemade in Italy. And our Italian friends say it's most authentic in a non-Southern Italy East Coast Italian way. Maritime East on Telegraph between Stuart and Oregon is simply wonderful. Best burger I've ever had.