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Lungomare review (Oakland)

First meal at Lungomare this week, and I was really impressed. It actually reminded me a lot of Oliveto when they’re doing Oceanic Dinners, and I love Oliveto’s oceanic Dinners.

We had:

Red Flint polenta with wild mushroom and mascarpone – terrific, flavorful coarse polenta, rich with mascarpone. Can I admit that I’ve never understood the big deal about Anson Mills polenta? But this Red Flint stuff is fantastic.

Monterey Squid, borlotti beans, salsa verde – this was very good.

Braised Baby Octopus with a crispy chickpea cake – also very good. I had expected both the squid and octopus to come out in rustic looking piles, and both dishes were carefully constructed and plated – beautiful to look at, harder to share with a large group. The octopus, in particular, was much more refined than I had expected – it was sliced thinly, stewed, and layered between the chickpea cake and a cloud of ultrathin fried onions in such a way that I couldn’t figure out where the octopus was until I cut into it.

Rabbit Roulade, polenta, hen of the woods mushroom – this was great, maybe my favorite of the appetizers. Nothing fancy or innovative, just perfect execution.

Pizza with lamb meatballs, sweet peppers, Calabrian chili, fresh mozzarella. I was only able to get a tiny bite of this – the dough is very good, but could have been stretched a little thinner.

Squid Ink chitarra, clams, chili – flavors were spot on. The thicker pieces of chitarra were a touch firmer than ideal for me (I feel the same way about Chinese knife-cut noodles) - if I had been patient enough to let it soak up a little of the flavorful broth, I think it would have been perfect.

Papparedelle with braised pork shoulder – I didn’t get to taste this, but everyone who ordered it enjoyed it.

Corzetti, duck Bolognese. Again, nothing fancy or innovative, and you wouldn’t want it to be. Perfect execution. My niece complained that there wasn't enough pasta, but that could have been because the rest of us were sneaking pieces off her plate.

Grabish Farm Porchetta – a very generous slab of porchetta, smokier than other versions I’ve had. Very good.

Branzino with agridolce. Beautiful, fresh, perfectly cooked fish. They present the whole cooked fish before returning it to the kitchen to fillet. Warning – if you like fish cheeks and collars, ask to have the head returned to you. We lost ours.

In summary - all seafood were sweet and pristine. Land animals were cooked well too. Salt levels were perfect. Pasta textures were great.

Were there any weaknesses? Sure. The cocktails were sweet for my taste, and there were some service glitches. In particular, servers never seemed quite sure which dish belonged to whom, which normally doesn’t bother me, except that they were serving Oliveto-caliber food. There are some typos on the menu. For me, these are minor issues when eight out of eight dishes were good to stellar, one month after opening. I look forward to returning.

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  1. Sounds fabulous. What's the room like? Noise levels?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Room has a generic upscale waterfront feel (similar to Kincaid's). Noise was not a problem, but the restaurant was less than half full. Still, the space is pretty big, and there's plenty of room between tables, so I think even if full, you could still hear people in your own party. They can accommodate large parties pretty easily.

      Oh - and there are tablecloths. Definitely a candidate for your birthday dinner :)

    2. A friend and I stopped in last week for a snack and drinks, and we really liked it, too. The farinata with artichoke was the best we've tried around here; we also appreciated the squid; and the chocolate-caramel budino, while not ground-breaking, was well-executed. There was a little disconnect between the bar and our waiter which ended up with three different martinis arriving at our table, but otherwise we were very happy with the service. The heat lamps can really crank it out, which makes sitting outdoors a pleasure even after the sun goes down.

      1. The cafe is pretty nice and not a crazy line like blue bottle. Good latte, good iced too.

        1. Went for dinner last night. Stand outs were salad, crudo, and desert----the halibut was OK. I really enjoyed the house-smoked rainbow trout with caviar crudo. The salads were probably the best--celery root with truffle oil was flavorful but not overpowering. The arugula with blood oranges was fantastic. Their chocolate with salted caramel desert was really rich and great texture. The gelato was on par with anywhere else and I really enjoyed the coffee flavor.

          Veal special looked great too, but I didn't try it.

          I was disappointed in the Pizza - OK crust but just not really bringing it considering that Forge is just a few steps away.

          Also, maybe I'm out to lunch on italian restaurants but I found there to be a ridiculous amount of olive oil on every plate. Everything was completely drenched from the appetizers to the entrees and it really hurt the meal. Hope they tone this down a bit. It is the main thing I remember from the meal and completely overpowered every dish.

          Also +1 on server confusion. This type of stuff doesn't bother me at all but it's worth noting that they do seem to have issues remembering which plate is for which person at the table.

          7 Replies
          1. re: hungree

            Ha! I was there for dinner last night, too!

            While I didn't notice excessive oil, my Dad complained that his duck bolognase was "greasy." Overall, though, we really enjoyed our meal.

            The starters were the real stars, from the unusual soup of the day (duck confit in a creamy broth with chick peas, minced veggies and a drizzle of something green) to their twist on ribolitta. I thought the celery root salad was unusual and refreshing, the cured meats were all good (although the chicken liver pate, which I usually don't care for, was the star). We also ordered the swordfish crudo, which was, well, swordfish crudo, and my niece had a plain tomato/fresh mozzerella pizza, which she inhaled (although she left the outer crusts).

            I had the paparadelle with braised pork and it was delicious, although perhaps slightly over-herbed -- it didn't bother me at first but after a few bites the dish felt a little out of balance. The pork was porky goodness and the paparadelle was perfectly cooked. My mom was less happy with her ravioli, which she said (and I agreed) were tough. The waiter offered to take it away and replace it with something else, but we were all pretty stuffed from the previous courses so she declined. My sister didn't comment on her porchetta; I thought my brother-in-law's halibut was slightly overcooked.

            We had a bottle of food-friendly Vermentino and my niece had one of their interesting fountain drinks, which she really enjoyed.

            I thought the service was well-meaning but a little disjointed and there were some longish pauses, notably between the first time our waiter checked in with us to go over the menu and when he came back to take our orders, and between finishing out first courses and the mains. But I'm going to give them a "still working out the kinks" pass.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              The porchetta was delicious: rich, but not greasy. The farro was a nice contrast in texture and helped balance the richness of the meat.

              But the celery root salad was probably my favorite thing. Thank you for sharing it with me!

              1. re: jlafler

                Yeah, I never would have thought to serve celery root raw that way (finely julienned) but it really worked. Seems like the kind of dish you could replicate at home, but probably wouldn't. It was a generous serving that seemed like it was designed to be shared.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  that's the classic French "Celerie Remoulade".

                  1. re: escargot3

                    The menu says vinaigrette, not rémoulade. Which makes sense in an Italian restaurant.

              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                Oops, forgot the crispy cardoons. Yum! And the house marinated olives were exceptional, I thought.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Olives were great! And probably had the least olive oil of all the dishes. Lol.

            2. Wanted to sit outside and enjoy the warm weather this afternoon so it seemed like a good time to try Lungomare. Unfortunately the brunch menu doesn't have much in common with the regular menu,no seafood except for a salad with some smoked trout.

              Tried a pizza with "ciccioli" (actually made from shoulder), escarole, and egg, really good, well made, tasty crust, nice char. They use a Wood Fire brand gas brick oven.

              The salad with smoked trout, hazelnuts, pickled onions, and artichokes was quite nice.

              Also had a light appetizerish plate of asparagus with some crumbled bacon, oven-dried tomato vinaigrette, and a soft-boiled egg, pretty good.

              Looking forward to going back and trying some seafood.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I forgot to mention the happy hour (3-6 daily), which started while we were finishing up lunch. I had a $5 St. George gin and house-made tonic, delicious.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I ended up back here for happy hour this afternoon and had a fine margarita. No food this time, but $4 beers and $5-6 cocktails are quite reasonable.