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Belli Osteria in Berkeley?

I've pretty much given up on buying Groupons, but there's one today for Belli Osteria, which is right near Berkeley Rep. Has anyone been there?

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  1. I've been twice and have been very impressed. Nice salads, interesting pasta's and ravioli's and good service.

    A great addition to the neighborhood.

    1. Had exactly the same reaction--have all but given up re Groupons, but hesitated re this one! Thanks for posting.

      1. Rave review by Nicholas Boer in the Chron today, 2.5 stars on all counts, which is the most Bauer allows anyone else to give.


        1. I would call the restaurant BEFORE buying the Groupon. Its odd to me that they would be Grouponing with a Chron review coming out.

          2 Replies
          1. re: smatbrat

            That offer was two weeks ago. They wouldn't have known about the review until maybe a week ago.

          2. I tried it out this weekend (unfortunately we didn't have the Groupon).

            It was okay. They definitely don't seem very "together". Several times the staff couldn't explain dishes, they said they had a dish, then they were out, then they had it again, there were key ingredients left out of descriptions (who knew a brussels sprouts two ways salad would have a lot of arugula, mushrooms and cheese, possibly even nuts?), the pricing on our bill did not match the pricing on the menus, etc.

            We liked most of the food we ate, but it didn't blow us away. I don't think we'll be back, given the other great mid-priced restaurants around.

            1. We used the Groupon Sunday before Berkeley Rep (and during the Superbowl, so had the joint to ourselves).

              And we liked it. I agree that I was surprised that the description of the brussels sprout salad wasn't more complete--but I really enjoyed it. Ditto butternut squash ravioli (description also not complete--and I really liked it). My husband enjoyed papperdelle w/ meat sauce for a main (can't remember his starter, but he liked that too). And the waiter (who was quite professional, save for telling us his name at the start) steered me to a very nice red that was well priced and went well w/ my meal.

              To me, this was what you hope from a Groupon promotion--it introduces you to a place you haven't been--with the idea that you'll return to pay the full price--which we definitely will.

              My only unmet need--and it's hardly their job to be mindful of such things--I wish they opened a half hour earlier on Sunday (5, rather than 5:30) to accommodate the earlier curtain (7 rather than 8) for Berkeley Rep. The place was empty enough when we were there that we were out in plenty of time. But if it were full, I could imagine it getting tighter.

              1. Any recent reports? Comments on the summer (or late spring) menu? I have an old Groupon to use. We waited until a couple of days before it expired and when we called for a reservation the guy on the phone said they were swamped with (implied) cheapskates. It sounded unpleasant, so we didn't go.

                4 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I believe it changes weekly. And even if it did change daily, people might have general opinions that would be more up to date than the previous posts from February. Anyhow, tonight they were out of the smelt appetizer and had a special of day boat scallops that we enjoyed, though we liked the crostini with aged Kentucky ham, St Andre cheese and roasted bell pepper even better. Nice meal.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I went when the restaurant was fairly new, enjoyed it, but then never returned (except the one time we tried to drop in and it was packed). When I saw a Groupon a few days ago, I bought it. On the one hand, i was sorry to see that it was slow enough that they needed Groupon (but it is summer). On the other hand, it was a very good deal (1 item from each section of the menu, plus 2 glasses of wine). We had:

                        Cucumber, tomato & roasted bell pepper gazpacho with grilled gulf shrimp - delicious

                        radicchio, belgian endive, mozzarella and aged smoked ham with roasted tomatillo vin - delicious

                        pappardelle with sliced beef (special of the day) - delicious, and the noodles were especially great.

                        niman ranch rib eye steak, purple potatoes, carmelized onion purée & herbed butter - great. A generous piece of meat, ordered medium-rare (came out pretty rare, which was fine).

                        We both enjoyed a glass of white by the glass, and then we ordered a bottle of Barbera for the second half of the meal. The balance of that bottle was our dessert.

                        I made a reservation (good thing) and it was packed when we arrived, but there weren't many people when we left. For this food and these prices, that is a shame.

                        Service was wonderful.

                1. I forgot to post about a great dish I had last week, ravioli filled with chicken and mascarpone in a sauce of butter and reduced chicken broth (ham broth on this week's menu) with fresh fava beans ($17). Reminded me of food in old-school restaurants in northern Italy. Rich, salty, profound depth of flavor.

                  Drank a delicious Chianti for $6 a glass, which was a great bargain except looking at the online menu I think they might have undercharged me for the $9 Coltibuono I ordered. Even at $9 it would have been cheaper than at most other good Italian places.