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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.

              2. I had dinner here last week. I really liked the Red Flint polenta dish, and the celery root salad was pretty good, too. I had the porchetta, which had excellent flavor but could have been a bit more tender. My companion's ravioli dish was merely OK. The chocolate-caramel budino was fantastic. We also had some service glitches during our meal. It appears that our visit was similar to most of the others posted so far.

                2 Replies
                1. re: mdougherty

                  With at least two bad reports, sounds like the ravioli are an "avoid"!

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    I keep running into friends who didn't like it and won't be back. Seems like it has some consistency issues. I enjoyed it once, didn't another time.

                2. Had dinner this weekend and was most decidedly not impressed. Had crudo, salumi, and burrata for starters. The crudo was swordfish, overwhelmed with a roasted red pepper-caper salsa, nothing special salmon tartare, and white anchovies with green almonds. Tiny portions cost 21 bucks.

                  The salumi was underwhelming as well. House made mortadella, salami, coppa di testa, and ciccioli. The salami was great, everything else, eh. The coppa was dry and dense, the mortadella undistinguished, the ciccioli one-notish and bland. Again, tiny portions of all but the ciccioli-three thin slices of the salami and mortadella- cost 24 bucks. Pretty ridiculous. The burrata was OK but served, quizzically, with house smoked salmon. The combination was bizarre. Salmon was good though.

                  Three mains--lobster risotto with corn and chanterelles. the waiter bent over backwards to sell this dish, stating how good the lobster was. We couldn't tell because there was almost none of it. Maybe a third of a tail and a bit of a small claw. The risotto was well-prepared but tasted too strongly of wine for my taste.

                  Salmon was sold as local king, served with crispy skin, beet puree, peas. Waiter said it would be medium rare, it wasn't. Also didn't seem like king salmon to me, very dense and dark pink, looked more like sockeye. Generic kind of a plate.

                  Branzino was as advertised, crispy skin, stayed moist, but inexpertly scaled, which was unpleasant to pull out of one's mouth. Ordered grilled asparagus to fill out the plate on this one, was pretty good.

                  Affagato was not thought through, as the waiter presented one small scoop of ice cream in a mug and poured the espresso over. Ice cream melted too fast, a bowl would have made more sense. Strawberry semifreddo and rhubarb compote looked wonderful. I don't eat sugar so I ordered a cheese pizza which was not good. Cardboardy crust really ruined it for me.

                  Service was amateurish at best. They didn't wipe the table, plucked our forks off the app plates and put them back on the table. Waiter was bumbly and couldn't remember the menu, bus boy seemed to have been employed straight off the street, sweet smile but no clue how to do the job. Weird.

                  This was an expensive dinner, people. 180 with no booze. I expect much much better than this for that kind of dough. Won't be going back.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: essvee

                    We had a very similar experience a few weeks ago.
                    Completely awful service even with some seemingly Manger types circulating. I am pretty sure our waiter had just smoked some Meth.
                    Recommended Salmon dish was tiny with a very meager vegetable garnish for $29. The whole plate was gone in 4 bites.
                    Fish stew, 1.5 oz fish(at best) 3 Mussels 1 of which was off, 2 manilla clams in an 1/4 cup of over salted broth.
                    Nettle Mezzaluna Very little filling that was not very flavorful 6 peas tops, Pasta was a bit tough and needed more of a sauce to carry it. Not terrible but not good either.
                    We will never be back.

                    1. re: essvee

                      Nobody goes back. It's coasting completely on location and the water view. Most people I know have gone back to give it another shot a few times, if they are generous. For me, it took 3 times to decide I'm over it. Everything you said is pretty consistent with all of my experiences.

                      1. re: hungree

                        As noted in my report, the food we had was pretty good (and a decent value) but the service was spotty, which we chalked up to the restaurant being new. It seems as if the service hasn't improved and the food has gone downhill, which is too bad.

                    2. Went back last night for the first time in a while.

                      Pizza with house-made pepperoni, squash blossoms, and burrata ($15) was excellent, thin and crisp, so thin it reminded me of Pizzetta 211. Really good flavor in the crust. Some people might have complained about skimpy toppings, but that's what makes such thin pizza work.

                      Fried smelt, house-made coppa di testa, chitarra pasta with squid and clams, and grilled ox tongue were all good.

                      They were understaffed so service was a bit slow, but the food came out promptly.

                      1. Oh boy, they have the ox tongue starter again? Woohoo, we will be going back, then! We had it late last year and were so pleased - altho actually it was also because I was still hungry, the duck was simply terrible - we ordered a second plate of it!