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Oakland Laurel - Italian - Trattoria Laurellinos

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Oh man, are I and my wife happy. We found good Italian in the Laurel district of Oakland.

The place isn’t a fashion statement, but it is just fine in this working class neighborhood. There’s fresh paint on the walls new furniture. There are a few small round tables outside and maybe 8 tables inside. It’s pretty much a bare rectangle inside with cheap fixtures beaming light from above. Some wall-sconces or other diffused lighting would have helped.

The menu is organized Italian-style with the dishes offered ala-carte and in distinct courses. I started with the aptly named “Vongole”, which is your standard group of clams in a garlicy-buttery-clam broth. The broth (always my favorite part) was heaven. I order this a lot in other joints and this was the best I’ve had in a year. The herbs and garlic are right up front where they should be, with the clam liquor providing a good bass note. The little-necks were overdone, but I soon forgot this as I sopped up the broth with the nicely toasted crostini accompanying the dish.

My wife’s bruschetta was also wonderful with flavorful tomatoes mixed-in with herbs and garlic on top of more pieces of the same crostini. The chef-owner Terrell Santiago is _not_ afraid of using garlic, raw or cooked. My wife and I revel in it, but be warned…:-)

I moved on to a Liguria – “Large shrimp, fresh tomatoes and spinach fettuccini tossed in a white wine-lemon cream sauce with dill”. The shrimp were large and were cooked to perfection, which isn’t easy when incorporated in pasta! The sauce was rich without being cloying and quite tasty.

My wife’s Glorioso – “Sautéed mushrooms and asparagus with lots of garlic, chili flakes and gemelli tossed with extra virgin olive oil” was also nicely done with the sauce perfectly covering the pasta and the veggies were clearly fresh.

Both portions of pasta were HUGE. We both finished about half and took the rest home. I would actually have preferred a smaller portion of pasta with the same number of shrimp. We both thought that the amount of the pasta would have served more than one person. At any rate, you sure get your money’s worth.

We both chose an off-dry Riesling from a local vintner. It was really complex and lovely. I wasn’t going to have any (being a weeknight and all), but relented after trying a sip of my wife’s.

Final tally:
Food: 7.5 (If the clams weren’t overcooked it would have been an 8!)
Service: 9 (Attentive and informative – our waiter felt like he was the owner, terrific!)
Price: $70 before tip on two appetizers, two pastas and two glasses of wine
Ambiance: 6 (OK – Nothing special, but if you are running an Italian joint, play Italian music!)

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Trattoria Laurellino
4171 Macarthur Blvd, Oakland, CA

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  1. Husband and I went there a month or so ago. Had a good salad, shared, nice vinaigrette. Our pastas were both delish, and leftovers on both parts. Still tasted good a few days later. In constuctive criticism, because we really like a local venue and the people there, service could be refined a bit and staff could use some finesse. Nothing critical, because they're nice kids, but that's the issue. As an industry person, I want to see a local do good, and want the youth to succeed. Don't want this to be a bad Yep, cause it;s not. Food was really good, owner a doll and a worker, and a cool experence in the hood.

    2 Replies
    1. re: macadam

      I've been out of the country so didn't even know this restaurant had opened right in my Laurel neighborhood.My Italian roots and taste buds are bubbling to the surface and I can't wait to try it.Good reports so far and props to the owners for bringing a cuisine to an area devoid of much choice to a neighborhood with so much potential.Best of luck

      1. re: casalbore spirit

        Tried Trattoria Laurellinos a few nights ago.Overall a pleasant and delicious experience for a neighborhood restaurant finding it's way and open to learning to grow.
        I had:
        -The calamari fritti.Light,crispy,non greasy fritto misto type coating.Could have used
        salt to make the flavors pop.Tons of tentacles(my favorite part)Tasty garlic aioli to dip
        into.
        -Vongole(manila clams) in a white wine garlic broth with toasted crostini.The garlic
        was a bit raw,as in many of the dishes,but the broth was delicious.Staff remarked that
        customers ask for their broth to go after finishing their vongole.
        -Sauteed button mushrooms in garlic wine sauce with gremolata.Yummy.
        -Housemade gnocchi with a gorgonzola,garlic cream sauce w/added prawns.Again
        yum.I like more of a potato to flour ratio.The chef remarked that he is experimenting
        with ratios,yet the gnocchi were still tender and had that hand crafted quality.
        I had returned from Rome a few days before and relished having some very similar flavors in my mouth.I also enjoyed Chef Terrell Santiago's cuisine,congeniality and conscious sense of community.He makes the rounds of every table,greeting his guests and asking for feedback.He also allows an organic farmer's market in his parking lot Saturdays 10-2.The staff were warm and attentive.The whole picture is what makes it feel like a neighborhood trattoria.
        Table cloths are probably not in the budget.Perhaps in the future paper table coverings or placemats are a possibility as I don't care to place my cutlery on a bare table or pile it on my bread plate.That's the Italian in me.Everything clean concerning food and eating.It's why I don't do well in dives.
        I'm thrilled this tasty,reasonably priced restaurant is in my neighborhood.I'm hoping they will be supported and wish Terrell and his staff the best.