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Good, reasonably priced Italian in Berkeley/Rockridge

w
wannab Oct 19, 2011 09:04 PM

I have visitors from out f state and we will be in Berkeley Saturday night. My guests want to treat for dinner, but one of them just lost their job I don't want anything expensive. I am just looking for a comfortable place with decent Italian food.

Thank you.

  1. Robert Lauriston Oct 16, 2012 09:23 PM

    The silver lining of Holy Land closing suddenly was that we ended up down the block at Trattoria la Siciliana for the first time in ages. Thanks to the Giants we got seated right away.

    The melanzane impanate (fried eggplant stuffed with mozzarella) was as good as ever, maybe better. Their simple tomato sauce is the best. Good light appetizer for two.

    The pappardelle al ragù di maiale was fantastic. Great deep-flavored sauce from several different kinds of pork including ribs, guanciale, and sausage (my east coast friends would call it Sunday gravy), not too much of it, generous portion of what I'd have called maltagliati since they weren't super even. Seriously, this was as good as that kind of pasta ever gets, it would not have been out of place on the table at Oliveto or Chez Panisse Cafe, or at nonna's house.

    Drank a nice inexpensive Alcamo. Split a great housemade pear frangipane tart for dessert. Friendly service. Overall delightful.

    Still cash only.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston
      c
      chocolatetartguy Oct 17, 2012 12:43 PM

      On my way to Ici I passed La Siciliana Saturday and they had crab on the menu.

      1. re: chocolatetartguy
        Robert Lauriston Oct 17, 2012 01:13 PM

        I think they've had the "fresh crab and lobster" sign out every time I've been there.

      2. re: Robert Lauriston
        j
        jaiko Nov 13, 2012 10:19 AM

        Does Trattoria La Siciliana still have that tasty olive oil dipping sauce? We haven't been there in ages but I remember it because it was the first time my spouse approved of using EVOO on this bread instead of tons of butter! They sold it also, so I gave some as Xmas presents that year.

        1. re: jaiko
          Ruth Lafler Nov 13, 2012 10:40 AM

          Yup. It was delicious.

      3. Glencora Feb 6, 2012 11:24 AM

        Nothing I've read here about Corso mentions that there's a TV above the bar. I probably wouldn't have gone on Super Bowl Sunday had I known that, since I found the ads distracting. After the game, they switched it to a Cary Grant/Sophia Loren movie (sound off) that didn't really bother me, but still... Other than that, the meal was fine. The crostini (or crostino, I guess?) with hedgehog mushroom conserva and ricotta was my "best bite" so far this year. My companion said the cherry sundae was the best sundae he's ever had in his life. It amused me that it was served in a slightly too small dish that meant a lot of drips. Shades of Fenton's?

        4 Replies
        1. re: Glencora
          Robert Lauriston Feb 6, 2012 12:02 PM

          Normally the TV is showing old Italian movies. I don't think I've ever given the TV a thought except for a couple of times when I looked up the movie on Netflix and watched it later.

          1. re: Glencora
            h
            Helene Goldberg Feb 6, 2012 12:13 PM

            Have they gotten rid of the nasty manager. I used to go to Corso regularly until she made dining so unpleasant I gave up on it.

            1. re: Helene Goldberg
              Glencora Feb 6, 2012 12:22 PM

              I remember reading your posts. You mean the woman at the hostess stand? Was she Asian? The woman last night seemed perfectly nice, though we had very brief contact with her so it's hard to say.

              1. re: Glencora
                h
                Helene Goldberg Feb 6, 2012 01:23 PM

                I'm glad you had a good experience. Perhaps someone has talked to her. I'll just wait until she leaves to return though.

          2. p
            peppino Nov 17, 2011 01:31 PM

            I know they're Dopo's sister restaurant/bar (and they don't exactly a full dinner menu ) but no one mentioned Adesso ;) I like going there for a good salumi fix and some good Italian wine.

            -----
            Dopo
            4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

            Adesso
            4395 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA

            1. m
              MagicMarkR Oct 25, 2011 11:27 AM

              Though a bit farther North, I always have liked Lo Coco at Shattuck and Rose.
              They have a very pleasant atmosphere where you can have a conversation, staff is friendly, and it is affordable. Food is pretty good to --pretty standard trattoria style.

              http://www.lococospizzeria.com/

              -----
              Lo Coco's Restaurant
              4270 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

              11 Replies
              1. re: MagicMarkR
                Robert Lauriston Oct 25, 2011 12:08 PM

                Lo Coco's has decent pizza. I used to go there for the La Puzzola with morels and Gorgonzola but they took it off the menu.

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                Lo Coco's Restaurant
                4270 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  Glencora Oct 25, 2011 04:33 PM

                  But Sportivo (Fratelli Lo Coco -- related, I assume) has it on the menu. I haven't tried yet, but want to.

                  1. re: Glencora
                    Robert Lauriston Oct 25, 2011 04:52 PM

                    Where is Sportivo?

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      Glencora Oct 25, 2011 04:59 PM

                      2132 Center Street. I've looked in and it's pretty noisy, with TVs. I'd get the pizza to go.

                      1. re: Glencora
                        r
                        Rapini Oct 25, 2011 05:46 PM

                        It can be noisy; but the food is surprisingly good, prices reasonable, and the service friendly.

                        1. re: Glencora
                          Robert Lauriston Oct 25, 2011 06:04 PM

                          Oh, the old Raphael space.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                            kellylee Oct 25, 2011 07:12 PM

                            Can anyone speak to the style of the pizza? Wood fired?

                            1. re: kellylee
                              Robert Lauriston Oct 25, 2011 07:19 PM

                              I don't think they could have a wood oven, I'm pretty sure Raphael came after the ban on new installations.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                Glencora Nov 11, 2011 09:09 AM

                                I tried the Puzzola (the skunk) last night: morels, marscarpone and gorgonzola. I can't remember Lo Coco's crust. This was thick and chewy, but not underdone, with a bit of char. This pizza might be too salty and greasy for some people. I enjoyed it. There's something addictive about the combination. (I had a bite of the carnivoro, but it was boring by comparison.)

                          2. re: Glencora
                            drewskiSF Nov 11, 2011 06:03 PM

                            the website says "Wood fired pizzas"

                            "This is not your typical sports bar. Wood fired pizza, the finest hand crafted pasta dishes, hand selected meats, freshest fish, not to mention those select Sicilian specialties sure to appease even the toughest critic."

                            -----
                            Sportivo
                            2132 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94704

                            1. re: drewskiSF
                              kellylee Dec 12, 2011 07:37 AM

                              We tried Sportivo last night. The space is nice and the server was a dear but the food was mediocre at best. We had the wood fired asparagus appetizer which was limp and seemed over boiled rather than crisp as we were expecting. Served in an odd fennel broth that reminded one of us of sauerkraut. Three pizzas followed: Margarita, Carnivoro and La Puzzola. Too heavily topped and very oily. The crust edge had a nice flavor but the rest of the pie was soggy due to the excess oil.

                  2. w
                    wannab Oct 20, 2011 06:53 PM

                    Thank you for all the recommendations, so far Trattoria La Sicilianais on the top of the list.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: wannab
                      d
                      dcfb Oct 22, 2011 11:15 AM

                      I would read deeply about wait times at TLS. The two times we went, it took much longer for us (no reservations) and for some of the people who had them. We stopped trying, but if we had some time to hang out (even with a res), we would go back. The food is delicious and the space is hopping and comfy. Service warm. Again, it's been a while.

                      Corso is a favorite. An app and the popular butter-cooked chicken dish they have with a shared salad might work. Larger portions at TLS but both are delicious.

                      Also to add that Corso has 3 sizes of wine pours: taste, half, full. We've enjoyed having just a sip of wine to try something new here and there.

                      1. re: dcfb
                        Robert Lauriston Oct 22, 2011 11:19 AM

                        Trattoria la Siciliana didn't used to take reservations at all, so long waits were unavoidable.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                          wolfe Oct 22, 2011 02:07 PM

                          This reservation business is not new but apparently you needed at least 4.
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3673...
                          Psst, RL you are on that 6 year old thread.

                          1. re: wolfe
                            Robert Lauriston Oct 22, 2011 03:07 PM

                            Three, but time was they didn't take reservations at all except for large groups.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                              wolfe Oct 22, 2011 03:11 PM

                              Your taste memory is matched only by your eidetic reservation memory.

                              1. re: wolfe
                                r
                                rccola Oct 22, 2011 05:26 PM

                                Wolfie! It's "reservations for 3 or more" online or "call for smaller parties," I guess so they can pick and choose if they want to honor reservations at a particular time. That would mean they may or may not save a table for 1 or 2.

                                How do I know? Website!

                    2. s
                      salumigirl Oct 20, 2011 10:39 AM

                      I like Enoteca Molinari. A small, cozy place. Tasty food for reasonable prices:

                      5474 College Avenue
                      Oakland, CA 94618
                      (510) 428-4078
                      http://www.enoteca-molinari.com/index...

                      Enjoy!

                      -----
                      Enoteca Molinari
                      5474 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: salumigirl
                        Robert Lauriston Apr 15, 2012 12:11 PM

                        Stopped in at Molinari for a drink. Really nicely chosen all-Italian wine list, I had tastes of half a dozen, all delicious. The chickpea fries were good though I like Plum's better. Liver pâté was excellent. A small appetizer of fat asparagus spears and prosciutto was very good. The tagliatelle with beef and pork ragù looked delicious, I'll have to go back to try some pasta.

                        1. re: salumigirl
                          Robert Lauriston Jul 19, 2013 09:04 AM

                          I finally got around to trying Molinari's pasta. Orecchiette (I'd call them something else, they were a bit thicker and not ear-shaped) with broccoli rab, gnocchi with asparagus, smoked ham, and fontina, both very, very good. $14 for housemade pasta's a great deal. The chef's from Naples, does a remarkable job given the tiny space. The caponata was also excellent.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                            Melanie Wong Jul 19, 2013 10:19 AM

                            Thanks for reminding us about Molinari. How's it faring with A16 as a new neighbor?

                            1. re: Melanie Wong
                              Robert Lauriston Jul 19, 2013 10:51 AM

                              Dunno. From day one they've often had seats when nearby places have a wait, that's how we ended up there last night. When we walked in around 7ish, the tables were all occupied, but nobody was at the bar.

                            2. re: Robert Lauriston
                              The Dive Jul 22, 2013 10:55 AM

                              That "orechiette" is my favorite there. I can't figure out the traffic though -- I walk by it almost every day. Some days, completely empty (indeed, I have been there for a glass of wine and pastas to go, and have been the only person there for 30 minutes), other nights the tables are filled. Hope they are doing okay.

                          2. escargot3 Oct 20, 2011 08:44 AM

                            I really like Corso, but you have to tiptoe thru the menu more carefully than at Trattoria La Siciliana to keep the price down. So i vote for the latter.

                            fyi Pizzaiola can be really expensive if you're aiming for a chicken dish (instead of pizza/pasta) -- it was $26 a plate when I was there the other day for yummy morning coffee.

                            -----
                            Trattoria La Siciliana
                            2993 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

                            1. Robert Lauriston Oct 19, 2011 11:46 PM

                              Dopo, Corso, Trattoria La Siciliana, Riva Cucina, Paisan

                              -----
                              Trattoria La Siciliana
                              2993 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

                              Dopo
                              4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

                              Riva Cucina
                              800 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710

                              Corso
                              1788 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                              Paisan
                              2514 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                kellylee Oct 20, 2011 07:05 AM

                                Trattoria La Siciliana is a nice choice as they offer "family style" platters with very generous portions for the price. The last time I went they were cash only- just so you know.

                                -----
                                Trattoria La Siciliana
                                2993 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

                                1. re: kellylee
                                  Robert Lauriston Oct 20, 2011 09:07 AM

                                  I see that Siciliana takes reservations now, so that's a big plus.

                                  1. re: kellylee
                                    p
                                    Pius Avocado III Oct 22, 2011 12:25 PM

                                    La Siciliana definitely fits the bill for the price point. It's a narrow space so your comfort criterion would depend on the size of the party- I've eaten there with 8 and it was pleasant enough if a tight fit. Family-style service a big plus as kellylee noted.

                                    1. re: Pius Avocado III
                                      b
                                      bythebay Apr 16, 2012 04:17 AM

                                      I second or third or whatever number it's on the recommendation for Trattoria La Siciliana. I think they're great and price is reasonable, depending on how much you order of course.

                                      1. re: bythebay
                                        Ruth Lafler Nov 12, 2012 12:08 PM

                                        We went to Trattoria La Sicliana last night for dinner (early, no reservations, waited about 20 minutes, and the hostess was very apologetic). We ordered mostly off the November specials menu, and one dish really stood out: the ragu d'Maiale (over pappardelle). There were several different kinds of pork, and it was richly meaty and delicious.

                                2. moto Oct 19, 2011 09:59 PM

                                  trattoria Corso on Shattuck, just north of University Ave. in berserkley. if you wish to go in the Cal-Ital vein, Pizzaiolo on Telegraph, oaktown/temescal. neither is inexpensive, but reasonable for their high quality, and informal/casual.

                                  -----
                                  Pizzaiolo
                                  5008 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

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