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Authentic Italian near Oakland and Berkeley?

My husband's birthday is this Saturday and I'm trying to finalize the dinner plans! We love authentic al dente Italian ever since our trip to Europe and we like Tommaso in SF but we're looking for a restaurant that take reservations with good service near Oakland, Berkeley, and Emeryville area. From the research that I did, Dopo, Trattoria La Siciliana, and Riva Cucina look promising but I can't pull the trigger to make the reservation... Any suggestions and comments are greatly appreciated!

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Trattoria La Siciliana
2993 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

Dopo
4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

Riva Cucina
800 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710

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  1. we have a pronounced preference for Riva Cucina over Dopo, have yet to try la Siciliana. Dopo can be a bit heavy handed with oil and salt, their service isn't as smooth and consistent. The menus and cooking styles of the two don't share that much -- Riva Cucina does not do pizza, has more long/slow cooked courses, and the two places probably have different objectives in their approach to foods. That said, we actually prefer SPQR (Pacific Hts.) to Riva Cucina ; it's more fun, a bit more eclectic with the best fresh pastas in the area that we've tried, perhaps too loud for a birthday dinner. We haven't tried Tommaso, so wouldn't be able to compare the two.

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    Dopo
    4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

    SPQR
    1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

    Riva Cucina
    800 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710

    1. Riva Cucina is a good choice. I'd add Corso in Berkeley to your prospects.

      My experience with SPQR was that it's a very good neighborhood restaurant, but not particularly a destination. Personally, I don't think it's worth the schlep across the bridge.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Rapini

        with the fuel prices of the last few years, we don't go to SF solely for a meal, but combine other errands/shopping. (we can walk to Dopo but probably won't return after three tries). we find the ingredients, flavours, textures just a little more vivid and defined at SPQR, with some dishes among the best of their type we've recently experienced.

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        Dopo
        4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

        SPQR
        1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

      2. Oliveto serves terrific food. I eat there once or twice a week and always find the food interesting and very flavorful. Especially good are the whole grain pastas. They take reservations.

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        Oliveto Cafe
        5655 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

        1. Ok! I've decided to go with Riva Cucina. I will do my best to report my experience afterwards! I just wasn't sure about Riva Cucina from reading polarizing reviews. I know there's always people that are super picky and all but consistency is important to me.

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          Riva Cucina
          800 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710

          1. Dopo does not take reservations but I like it the best of the three you mentioned based strictly on food.

            I went to Riva Cucina and it didn't "wow" me enough to return. The place was almost completely empty when I went on a Saturday night around 7:30 PM.

            Just to add to the list of potential places in the areas you mention:

            Bucci's

            Paisan

            Enoteca Molinari

            Pizzaiolo
            Marzano on Park
            Bellanico

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            Pizzaiolo
            5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

            Dopo
            4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

            Riva Cucina
            800 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710

            Bucci's
            6121 Hollis St, Emeryville, CA 94608

            Marzano
            4214 Park Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94602

            Oliveto Restaurant
            5655 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

            Enoteca Molinari
            5474 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

            Paisan
            2514 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

            1 Reply
            1. re: Scott M

              Dopo does take reservations for large groups. It would be my pick too, though I do like Riva Cucina as long as there isn't that expectation to be "wowed" by anything. It's quieter, if that's a consideration.

              Pizzaiolo is great, but a tough reservation to get this late in the week - and the poster seems mostly interested in pasta, which Dopo, Riva Cucina, and any number of other places do better.

              That said, I hope the OP reports back, wherever she ends up.

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              Pizzaiolo
              5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

              Dopo
              4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

              Riva Cucina
              800 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710