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Dopo 2010

Robert Lauriston Jan 30, 2010 08:38 AM

This place has become my favorite Italian in the East Bay.

I like their pizza better than Pizzaiolo's, I think their pan-regional style gives the kitchen more room to shine than Corso's Tuscan focus gives its cooks, and, while further research may be required to determine whether the cooking really has superseded Olvieto's, Dopo is indubitably more affordable.

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  1. Robert Lauriston RE: Robert Lauriston Jan 30, 2010 08:39 AM

    The current menu has seven sections:

    Pesce crudo (raw fish): three items at $12 each or $32, $35, or $39 for a sampler platter for two, three, or four people. We have never ordered these as the cooked food is always more appealing.

    Pate & salumi: seven items at $7-8 each or $20, $23, or $27 for a sampler. We rarely order these as if we were in the mood for salumi we'd go to Adesso (same owners, two blocks away).

    Antipasti: three items at $11-12 each or $31, $34, or $38 for a sampler, plus a soup and a salad ($7 each). The antipasti re things that would be entrées elsewhere and often could be listed under one of the other sections: we've had pesce crudo a couple of times and one of the items is usually a sort of stew. We almost always order a sampler, but last night we didn't want the sardines in saor because it was cold, and they had run out of the braised squid with polenta, so we got the manicotti stuffed with chard, caciocavallo, and prosciutto cotto ($12)--dense and delicious, though strictly speaking it was only one manicotto.

    Pasta: three items at $14-16, no sampler. Last night we got the trenette (wide whole-wheat noodles) with braised hen, cabbage, pancetta, and brescianella ($16). The texture and flavor of the noodles was the star and the sauce just enhanced it. There are few places in the area that make pasta at this level.

    Pizza: five daily-changing specials ($14-16) plus the Dopo, basic cheese, anchovies optional ($10). The crust is crisper than the Neapolitan style that Pizzaiolo and a lot of other plces are doing these days, more like what they make at the Cafe at Chez Panisse. The pies are about 12", plenty for two to share as an entrée or for a party of four to six as an appetizer. I think Dopo ties with Pizzeria Delfina as the best in this local style of pizza (and neigher has the edge provided by a wood oven).

    Brasato & arrosto: a stew and/or a roast, $16-18. Last night they had run out of the roast pork so we got the beef spezzatino braised in red wine ($18), served with polenta. It doesn't get better than this. I think Dopo ties with Oliveto and Perbacco in the braised-meat Olympics.

    Verdura: three items, $6 each or $13, $16, or $20 for a sampler. Last week we had the most amazing platter yet: a Brussels sprout gratin with pancetta or guanciale that was somehow reminiscent of both choucroute garni and pizzoccheri (minus the noodles), roast turnips with I think walnuts, and I forget the third item. Last night they'd run out of fried Brussels sprouts with salmoriglio so we got turnips with lemon, which were great with the beef, and chicories with sherry and parmesan, which I might not have ordered if I'd realized it was a cold salad, though it hit the spot.

    Dessert: five items at $7-8, plus three house-made gelati for $7-8 each, or $15, $18, or $22 for a sampler platter. Since they had run out of several of the things we would have ordered, we had room for dessert, which might have been the first time. The espresso panna cotta ($7) served with whipped cream was great, barely a hint of sugar, tasted like a cup of coffee. The cannoli ($8) were as good a version of the crisp, light Italian style as I've had in this country, up there with À Côté's and Delfina's. The lemon ricotta zeppole ($7) were good though not as ethereal as the ones we had at À Côté a couple of weeks ago.

    The all-Italian wine list has a great selection of wines for $9-14 a glass / $38-56 a bottle (plus a Montepulciano di Abbruzo for $5 / $20). They just expanded the list this week, adding a section of ~20 wines at $40 a bottle and a dozen or so reserve reds for around $80-120. The fancy wines seem a little out of place given the informality of the place, but the food certainly justifies it if price is not a concern. They also have a full bar and the second-largest (after Adesso) selectino of amari I've found.

    Bottom line, I think Dopo currently sets the bar for Italian food in the East Bay--though I'll be challenging that judgment at Oliveto's Whole Hog in a few days.

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    Dopo
    4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

    6 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston
      a
      abstractpoet RE: Robert Lauriston Jan 30, 2010 08:04 PM

      We went to check out the new menu tonight, sat at the counter, and had a nice meal. The trenette, as Robert described above, is a nice dish, though I've liked other pasta options at Dopo better. Maybe whole wheat pasta isn't my thing, nor braised chicken in pasta dishes, though it was tasty enough and certainly well executed. We just wanted to try something new, since we've had their lasagna napoletana (fantastic) many times before.

      The best thing we ordered tonight was a pizza with some kind of salumi (I think maybe it was called "lungo"?), a Calabrian chili-based tomato sauce, and some kind of smoked cheese. Nice and spicy, and the crust was great as usual.

      Also had a side of the turnips with lemon (served cold). Served with the turnip greens too. Big plate of them for $6--a great value.

      Had the lemon zeppole for dessert, which we've had before and like quite a bit.

      To my taste, Dopo does offer up the most consistently excellent Italian food in the East Bay at this price range. I like Pizzaiolo too, but it's maybe a bit less consistent from item to item--plus, the vibe is less appealing to me, and somehow we always end up spending a bit more there.

      Haven't been to Oliveto often enough to form a strong opinion, but the price point precludes it from being somewhere we'd eat at very frequently anyway.

      1. re: abstractpoet
        Robert Lauriston RE: abstractpoet Feb 1, 2010 11:06 AM

        Lardo?

        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          a
          abstractpoet RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 1, 2010 03:00 PM

          No, I don't think so. It definitely started with an "L" and I'm pretty sure there was an "N" and a "G" in there somewhere. It was something I hadn't heard of before and had to ask about. Sorry, that's not very helpful. =)

          1. re: abstractpoet
            lexdevil RE: abstractpoet Feb 1, 2010 03:36 PM

            Lonza (aka pork loin)?

            1. re: lexdevil
              a
              abstractpoet RE: lexdevil Feb 1, 2010 06:34 PM

              Could have been! But it was in a salumi form.

            2. re: abstractpoet
              Robert Lauriston RE: abstractpoet Feb 2, 2010 08:30 AM

              The full list on the menu at Adesso shows that they're making something like 35 different types of salumi at this point, including several I've never heard of before.

      2. lexdevil RE: Robert Lauriston Jan 30, 2010 09:48 AM

        I volunteer to aid you in this daunting research project!

        1. 1
          10foot5 RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 1, 2010 10:20 AM

          It may have taken you 2 years, Robert, but you've finally come over to my way of thinking. :)

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/476537

          "(In Response to Robert Lauriston) This may be sacrilege around here, but I prefer the pizza at Dopo to that at Pizzaolo - especially Dopo’s house pizza with anchovies.

          If the kitchen is not too busy they will even do take-out and Dopo’s pizza definitely definitely travels better than Pizzaolo’s.

          10foot5 Jan 07, 2008 02:55PM"

          Lately Dopo has had a Brussels Sprouts side dish that is unbelievably tasty. I know Brussels Sprouts are SO two-thousand-and-eight, and it's all about cauliflower these days, but you owe it to yourself to try these.

          1 Reply
          1. re: 10foot5
            Robert Lauriston RE: 10foot5 Feb 1, 2010 11:11 AM

            I still like Neapolitan / neo-Neopolitan pizza,A16 and Pizzaiolo are my favorites for that style. Have to try Tony's.

            Yeah, the Brussels sprout gratin was incredible. I want more.

          2. 1
            10foot5 RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 1, 2010 10:23 AM

            Oops. Sorry, I see you mention the Brussels sprouts in your second post.

            Carry on.

            3 Replies
            1. re: 10foot5
              crowsonguy RE: 10foot5 Mar 29, 2010 08:21 PM

              Lengua? I think this is tongue, would be a tasty cured meat. Off for my first dopo experience tonight.

              1. re: crowsonguy
                crowsonguy RE: crowsonguy Mar 30, 2010 12:13 AM

                Lexdevil, you are right, it is Lonzo, cured pork loin with fatty back. A small, rich portion that I munched on while I decided what to have. Hard to pick from such a good menu. I next ate the yellowtail jack with fennel root, sage (which I couldn't taste) on a little lemon and potato cake. Good ingredients, but the salt and acid overwhelmed the fish.

                Roast boned flavorful hen leg stuffed with leeks, prosciutto and parmesan was a great combination, and the rich meat sauce with just a hint of tomato enhanced It. I had the rapini, potatoes, garlic and lemon peel with it: what a great addition! My mouth was singing... Unfortunately I forget the name of the red wine the waiter recommended: Nero something, which managed to be both rich and on the light side.

                By this time I was getting full, so I finished with a cappucino, which was just as good as the rest of the meal. This place is not fancy, and back in my home town people would complain about the prices in a restaurant without tablecloths or obviously expensive ingredients; but I think that Dopo understands what good food is about, and I wish I could take it home with me!

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                Dopo
                4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

                1. re: crowsonguy
                  Robert Lauriston RE: crowsonguy Mar 30, 2010 08:57 AM

                  The ingredients at Dopo are discreetly expensive. Quality like that doesn't come cheap.

                  The wine might have been a Nero d'Avola.

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                  Dopo
                  4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

            2. m
              mielemaiale RE: Robert Lauriston Mar 30, 2010 09:08 PM

              Convinced my companions to pick Dopo over Zachary's for pizza last night - WIN! Started with the unctuous Montalbano, a salumi that is apparently fresh cured, under two weeks. Deep, gamy flavour and good porky, fatty texture.

              We ordered the calzone with chard/garlic, and the asparagus pizza. The calzone was astounding, perfect crust perfumed with garlic, and a deliciously simple chard filling. The asparagus pizza was a bit bland and "green" tasting for me.

              We capped the night with Del Capo, a gorgeous amaro that was a perfect balance of herbacious and caramel brandy.

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              Dopo
              4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

              2 Replies
              1. re: mielemaiale
                Robert Lauriston RE: mielemaiale Mar 31, 2010 08:33 AM

                That Del Capo is good stuff. Has anyone seen it for sale retail anyplace?

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  m
                  mielemaiale RE: Robert Lauriston Mar 31, 2010 07:49 PM

                  Don't know, Robert. But I sure hope you find some and stock it in your bar. it is around the corner from my house, after all, and I plan to while away many a weeknight sipping some good after dinner digestivos!

              2. e
                epicurious_sf RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 1, 2010 05:03 PM

                Agreed that the pizzas and salumi are quite good. Excellent, really. One night we were recommended the lasagna special and it was criminally oversalted. Service was excellent.

                I'm underwhelmed by Oliveto, but I've only been once. I was drawn to their rabbit dish, a relative rarity, but it materialized as four very small portions wrapped in pancetta. The rabbit was overcooked and overwhelmed by the pancetta.

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                Oliveto Cafe
                5655 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                1. ourswimmer RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 2, 2010 06:42 AM

                  Right now (or at least last night) they have some beets on the menu that are listed just as "roasted beets." The sliced beets actually come with a generous portion of beet greens, and both roots and greens are thoroughly although not excessively seasoned with vinegar. The vinegar may be tarragon vinegar. The greens were a delightful surprise and the whole plate was out of this world good.

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