Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Mar 17, 2008 01:01 PM

Rockridge Lunch Spots (Oakland)

A friend is taking me out for lunch in the Rockridge area and wants someplace "nice." She's not an adventurous eater and would probably not like Asian or Mexican (unfortunately). The restaurant should have wine by the glass. Wood Tavern is too noisy, she says. I might suggust Oliveto, unless I sense that it's more than she wants to spend. If we do go there, should I reserve ahead for a Thursday lunch? From what I've read here, the cafe is not so good? Or am I wrong about that? What about the newish place on the corner near TJs, Cafe Lyon? Any other ideas? Elmwood would also work. Her favorite place in the east bay is Nizza La Bella, if that helps. I want to choose the "right" place. (She's my MIL.) Thanks.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The cafe at Oliveto is good, just super casual, so I don't think it would be a "nice" lunch. What about Dopo? Not in Rockridge, but just over the hill on Piedmont Ave, and while it's more casual than the dinner, it's still nice there, but not pricey, and quieter than Wood Tavern and the food is good (although I like the food at WT for lunch better than the food at Dopo for lunch). You could also try Cesar down the street if you think she'd be into the food.

    4 Replies
    1. re: JasmineG

      Thanks. I'm not sure if she'd want to go all the way to Piedmont Ave. It's too bad that lots of places around Rockridge aren't open for lunch. (Jojo, A Cote, I even thought of Dona Tomas, though I know I said no Mexican.) Considering how busy Wood Tavern is, I think there are enough people to fill them.

      1. re: Glencora

        Yeah, all of the places in Rockridge that I like the best aren't open for lunch, with the exception of Wood Tavern, and it's pretty little and is always packed. I've had some mediocre meals at Somerset (and you can get a LOT better for the prices that they charge) -- the dining room is certainly nice...but the food and the service need work. If Garibaldi's is open for lunch, it would work, but if you're going all the way there, it's really only three to five more minutes to get to Dopo, and the food will be better and the bill lower at Dopo.

        1. re: JasmineG

          If you can drag her over to Piedmont Ave, Bay Wolf is another good option for what might be traditionally considered a "nice" lunch. Less casual in feel than Dopo. Menu is also less limited. And better than Garibaldi's.

          That said, though I would not usually recommend it because there are much better options at the same price point, Garibaldi's does, however, serve lunch. And it is definitely in Rockridge.

          My choice would, however, be Oliveto upstairs. It's much cheaper than it is at dinner--

          1. re: lexdevil

            Thanks, to both of you. What do you think of Citron? The menu looks pretty good and my MIL does like Frenchified food. I've been to Garibaldi's but can't remember what I ate -- not a good sign. I like Dopo, but I think this pretty much has to be Rockridge.

    2. Somerset

      Barclay's is okay


      Noodle Theory

      Somerset probably the "Nicest" of the ones I listed...but all these are good to very good

      1. Garibaldi's might be suitable and open for lunch. Citron might also work - closed on Mondays.

        1 Reply
        1. re: vnchile

          If price ends up being less an issue, upstairs at Oliveto is excellent for a "nice" lunch. Downstairs is very good as well.

        2. I have only had dinner at Citron but have always been very happy with only a couple small exceptions and I did the tasting menu last time so I can understand I might not love every last thing. Overall I think the food is very good and it's VERY quiet. I have always thought it would be the perfect place to take my MIL as a matter of fact. I also think the food downstairs at Oliveto is very, very good. I think they cure their own olives (somebody on this board would know) and they are just the best thing I have ever tasted, almost. Wonderful pasta, wonderful produce (had the best caprese salad of my life there last October). I don't think they take reservations there though and the tables are close together so it wouldn't work for my MIL, not sure about you. I think Citron is a solid choice if you have to stay in Rockridge. Garibaldi's was well liked by my grandmother and my mother loves it so it might be a solid option in that way but I'll say the last few times I have been significantly disappointed in the food. Unless you plan to have pineapple martinis for lunch (do they still have those? I stopped eating there) in which case it might be workable. Good luck!

          3 Replies
          1. re: rockridgechow

            The pineapple infused vodka is the best thing at Garibaldi's. Really the only thing that brings me back.

            1. re: lexdevil

              Glad to hear it's still available! I'll have to plan a visit. Perhaps pineapple martinis for dinner then dessert at Bittersweet.

              1. re: rockridgechow

                I think they call it (the pineapple vodka served up) an Island Breeze. They also may a Tropical Breeze, which ruins it by adding coconut (though I have a friend who prefers it that way).

          2. Well, we ended up going to...Italian Colors in Montclair. At first I was baffled (especially since she got lost on the freeway and we almost ended up in Hayward), but it turned out she did have a reason for going to this rather generic place that is basically in a mini-mall, though a nice one with a waterfall and a florist stand.

            She had the hamburger (9.50), asked for it rare, but it looked well-done to me. It was huge and came with lots of fries. I had the chicken polenta (13.95); flavorful shredded chicken and quartered mushrooms on a square of blah polenta absolutely drowning in maybe two cups of wine sauce. It was tasty enough, but soon my lips felt sticky with fat, and I stopped eating the sauce.

            The prices seem reasonable and the place is popular. We were there a tad before noon and it filled up after we were seated. The food came quickly, but we had to wait so long for the coffee and then the check that the waitress brought us both free (but dry) lemon cake with berries and whipped cream. At that point, I would've prefered to leave.

            Anyhow, it turns out my MIL often lunched there with a friend who died recently. So in this case sentimentality trumped chowishness. She told the waitress about her loss and the waitress gave her a big hug and couldn't have been nicer.

            Thanks for all the Rockridge ideas. I hope to try many of them on my own.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Glencora

              Thanks for reporting back

              Italian Colors Restaurant
              2220 Mountain Blvd, Oakland, CA 94611