Recent C'era Una Volta experiences?
Has anyone been to C'era Una Volta recently? I read very helpful and detailed reports from Ruth Lafler and Robert Lauriston, but those were from 2004 and 2005. Is it still worthwhile? I was thinking about going for my birthday next week, mostly because I have a coupon ($25 off a weekday dinner of $50 or more, not including alcohol, mailed to Alameda residents). Any suggestions for good menu bets?
C'Era Una Volta
1332 Park St, D Alameda, CA
Old thread, but I'm going to piggyback on it.
We had a really good experience using C'Era Una Volta for our rehearsal dinner - they can comfortably hold 60 people on one level, and have a very reasonable minimum ($3K for a weekend dinner, including wine and service).
At the trial dinner (they give a generous discount for the tasting), we realized that their strength is definitely in long-cooked sauces and meats - I wonder if this accounts for most of the discrepancy in our experience with most of the reviews I've read (they get panned on Yelp for frequently not having menu items available, so I wonder if some of these items don't get made daily, or run out early). The one dish that was really not good was the vitello alla milanese, which seemed dried out and had a stale-tasting crust, but the gnocchi with chianti meat sauce was very good (gnocchi are definitely not house-made and are probably frozen but I actually liked their supple chewiness and thought they would appeal to the large, Chinese and Korean rice-cake loving contingent of our party), the lamb cacciatore with polenta was outstanding, and the side vegetables (roasted brussel sprouts and roasted root vegetables) were also well received.
Based on this experience, I'd definitely go back, but I might call ahead to make sure my favorite dishes are available that night.
My department had a holiday lunch there just over a year ago (so maybe it's not recent enough to report). It was a mediocre to poor meal. The soup tasted canned and was extremeley oversalted. The group I was with were not particularly foodies, and no one was pleased with the meal. Everyone said "it was okay". It would not be my top alameda choice.
I went about 2 months ago after a long hiatus and ordered a half order of the crab ravioli special. I think I counted 6 ravioli, barely filled with fake crab meat (trust me, it was tinted pink in color and oddly sweet) that were very small. I ordered a half order b/c I wasn't terribly hungry, but that portion size was ridiculously small.
The table next to us had ordered a half portion also of some pasta and were also remarking on the portion size.
Bottom line, use the coupon but I think stick to the basics and their long pastas are a better value in general.
Funny you should ask: I used a similar coupon for dinner with my parents this week and was just wondering if I should write it up. My overall impression was that the food was decent but unexciting. I had the beet salad (good, although a some people might have found it overdressed) and the porchetto Toscano (pork loin in wine sauce -- it said Chianti, but it seemed lighter than that), which was moist and tender. My Mom seemed to like her eggplant parmagiano. The wine list is not as extensive as it used to be, but there are still some interesting wines (all Italian) and when we asked our waitress she offered up more wines by the glass that were not in the menu. We were seated downstairs and it wasn't as loud as I remember it being when I sat upstairs.
The prices are reasonable to begin with (although slightly more than the menu on the website), so $25 off is a good deal. They still have a $35 prix fixe menu. I'd say you can have a pleasant dinner out there -- we did.
re: Ruth Lafler
Thanks, Ruth. "Decent and unexciting" will be fine, given the great deal. We have to watch our finances, so this will be a good and cheap way to celebrate my birthday and try a new restaurant. I'm newly pregnant and husband isn't super into wine, so no issues there. Thanks again.