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Aug 6, 2013 12:07 PM

Desco - Regional Italian in Old Oakland

The press release announcing the opening of Desco just landed in my inbox. This is the new project from Donato Scotti, replacing Borga Italia. "Desco" means dinner table.

PR Highlights:
•Fresh pasta made in-house
•Neapolitan pizze and schiacciate prepared in a wood-fired oven
•Piatto della Casa, a housemade assortment of smoked duck, lamb prosciutto and rabbit terrine
•Casonsei, a rustic ravioli from Bergamo filled with pork and housemade sauge with a brown butter and guanciale sauce.
•All Italian wine varieties, 50 selections, 20 by the glass
•Full bar showcases classic cocktails, amaro and traditional Italian aperitivi and digestivi
•Afternoon happy hour with bar snacks
•50-seat dining room, 16 sidewalk seats, 10 counter seats

Desco is located at 499 9th Street, on the corner of Washington Street in Oakland, California. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner (dinner only for the next two weeks), Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. The telephone number is (510) 663-9000 and web address is

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    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Plural of schiacciata. :)

      I've corrected the misspelling in my cut and paste of the press release. I only know the term in relation to the grape version because I've eaten it in the home of winegrowers in Sonoma County made with wine grape clusters during harvest time. Here's a recipe for the Tuscan flatbread, schiacciata con l'uva.

      I've followed Chef Scotti from La Strada in Palo Alto to Donato Enoteca in Redwood City. He's talented and I'm looking forward to trying his new place in time. Though I'll add that I wasn't crazy about the casonsei the one time I tried 'em.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        I guess my point was that IMHO this menu (not the food, but the way it's described) is a little inaccessible to the average diner. A lot of people won't even walk in the door if they can't read half the menu!

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Yep, I feel the same way about the first menu. Going a bit overboard to show that it is regional Italian.

          Here's the Redwood City menu for comparison,

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Is schiacciata a non-entity on the West Coast? Where I grew up in the East, it's very common; in fact, when my mom picks me up from the airport, she usually brings some that she picks up at a bakery on the way over.

            1. re: pane

              Apparently, since I've never seen the term before.

              1. re: pane

                The only reason I knew about it is we ate it in Italy... I believe in Rome and heading north from there.

                1. re: pane

                  Definitely not. I'm midwestern but I spent a semester in Rome, a few years in NYC, and 7 years here and I haven't noticed it as a regular player, though grape focaccia as a typical thing. Internet research (first-pass goggling) points to schiacciata as a Tuscan specialty, but most "East Coast" Italian regionalisms come from the south of Italy.

                  1. re:

                    They use the word "schiacciata" in parts of Sicily as well, though there it means a double-crust filled pizza, a cousin of calzone.

                  2. re: pane

                    I can't recall any examples other than at the owner's other restaurant, Donato Enoteca. He may have figured that if it could fly in Redwood City, Oaklanders could roll with it.

                    Then I just saw this photo on Beth's Community Kitchen (Mill Valley) FB page,

              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                According to a quick search it's another way to say foccacia...

              3. Some more schiacciata background:

                I'll miss the torta frita of Borgo Italia, but this looks like an interesting menu. Not sure I've seen carta musica (a matzah-like flatbread) besides at La Ciccia. Are they making that fresh?

                5 Replies
                1. re: hyperbowler

                  I should point out that the menu does not include a grape version like the schiacciata in your post's and my link.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Wouldn't it be nice if they did some "seasonal" shiacciata like uva, etc....

                    1. re: RWCFoodie

                      Problem is that table grapes don't really have enough flavor for the application. I've had them made with the tiny "champagne" grapes that appear around this time of year, and they're not that tasty once baked either. Maybe I'll show up at the restaurant next month with a sack of zinfandel grape clusters and see if they can handle BYO grapes.

                    2. re: Melanie Wong

                      In my experience, Americans are usually disturbed by the seeds in schiacciata all'uva.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Agreed... that is, unless you like the crunch!

                  2. Went last night. The menu isn't regional in the sense of being focused on any particular region. They took the word "schiacciate" off the menu and replaced it with "stretched."

                    I had an appetizer of three kinds of fritters ($7). The chickpea ones were quite good, the eggplant and pea ones seemed undercooked.

                    Tasted the octopus salad ($8), good though I thought the octopus could have been fried better.

                    Pizza bianca with squid, olives, capers, and garlic ($12) was very tasty. The style is not Neapolitan, it was actually fairly similar to the pizzas B used to make. Thinnish, somewhat crisp, a bit of a crunch. Big enough to share.

                    Tasted the paccheri (like big rigatoni) with eggplant, tomato, and ricotta ($12), really good.

                    Very good price-quality ratio on the food, not so much on the wines.

                    1. We enjoyed everything about Donato Enoteca when we had business in Redwood City last year and are glad to see him open a spot nearby.

                      1. Appetizers - blah, skip it. Drink wine.

                        Entrees - pasta: yes! Between the four of us everyone had good things to say about casonsei.

                        Dessert - good. Standard stuff like zabaione, executed with enough decency and moral support.