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Oliveto or Camino for Sunday Dinner? [Oakland]

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  1. Camino is good, a little austere (no interesting sauces or unusual prep). One problem is that they have a VERY limited menu. You really need to check the website and be sure you and any companions are okay with what's there. Last time we had 4 people and 3 of us had the same entree because there's only 3 choices (one is always vegetarian). I wouldn't take more than 4 people there, and even 3 is dicey if they're picky eaters.

    At Oliveto I love Chef Jonah Rhodehamel's brilliant concepts, but not the execution from the kitchen. Out of 4 dinners in 2013, 3 were ruined by steadily increasing salt levels. And I don't mean a little salt - I mean A LOT of salt, to the point where the mgr had to comp us because the food was actually inedible. As Oliveto is on the very high end $$$ for EBay bistros, this became intolerable to us. They are no longer the only game in town, and we had to stop recommending them.

    When there's something you like at Camino, it's hard to go wrong...it's just that there isn't very much to choose from.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jaiko

      Great feedback. Thanks very much. Any other suggestions in the East Bay on a Sunday? Our go to is usually Chez Panisse Cafe, closed on Sunday, of course.

      1. re: revets2

        For your original choices, I'd pick Camino over Oliveto any day. The other East Bay spot I'd recommend is Duende--our current favorite, and open on Sunday, I believe.

        1. re: Rapini

          Looks great! Thanks for the tip! Thanks to all you Bay Area CHs for your advice. Much appreciated.

    2. I love Camino.
      It has a stylish, low key informal atmosphere. Great Cocktail and Wine program.
      The Menu is very limited but I have never had anyone struggle to find something that appeals to them and all have left impressed with the experience.
      Usually the best of the season(or micro season) is on offer. Preparations while very simple are well though out and executed.

      1. A variation of what folks have already said. I'd do Camino, hands down.

        Oliveto big price tag for small portions (though I have loved their [small/pricey] pastas.

        I'm a Camino fan. Delicious, comfortable, imaginatively conceived and beautifully executed food. We've actually gone there w/ friends/family w/ food restrictions (eg. vegetarian); and despite the relatively small menu, everyone was happy (in fact, it's one of the area restaurants that excels w/ vegetarian dishes--though I'm not vegetarian, the veg dishes are what I often order).

        Let us know what you choose and how it goes!

        1. Any thoughts on A16 Rockridge compared to Camino?

          1 Reply
          1. re: revets2

            Kinda of a different place, All Cal-Italian also very good quality, but Camino is more "special"/unique feeling to me. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9040...

          2. we've gone to both places about half a dozen times, but no longer visit either of them, for different reasons. in the case of Oliveto, their tariffs on our budget puts it in the 'special occasion' category, and as such we've found other places who provide that experience better, like Plum or Duende. (Duende's proprietor was once the chef at Oliveto, back when we went there and enjoyed it). with Camino, i.m.o. they take minimalist prep to an extreme, and in many cases they don't develop flavours from the excellent ingredients any better than my homemade efforts from very similar ingredients. their dining space is also severely minimalist, and not particularly comfortable for my elderly joints.

            2 Replies
            1. re: moto

              "take minimalist prep to an extreme, and in many cases they don't develop flavours from the excellent ingredients any better than my homemade efforts from very similar ingredients"

              Do you feel the same way about the Cafe at Chez Panisse?

              To me their style is very similar, which isn't surprising since that's where Camino's chef worked before opening his own place, and both do a lot of the cooking in wood ovens or over coals.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                was not impressed enough by C.P's food either upstairs or down to visit either more than once. the proprietor of Pizzaiolo is another ex-C.P. cook, and his food is more interesting for our tastes.

            2. Great meal and service at Camino tonight. Our guests were impressed. Could see how it might be difficult for some to find something to eat. The mains were quail, sardines and mushrooms. But it worked for us and we were in heaven.

              Thanks to all!

              5 Replies
              1. re: revets2

                Camino holds interesting specials (e.g., roasted crab, paella) on Monday nights. May be worth it to try it out.

                1. re: vincentlo

                  Steak right now.

                2. re: revets2

                  Glad to hear that you liked it!

                  1. re: revets2

                    r2, oh they do make a great sardine dish.

                    1. re: escargot3

                      The sardine dish was outstanding!

                  2. I had a great dish at Camino last night: a salad of avocado, smoky eggplant, puntarelle, and warm grilled rutabaga, with a little Aleppo pepper or something similar. Great combination.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      I'm still thinking about how great our meal was at Camino. Can't wait to get back there again.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        It also had heavily toasted mustard seeds, which lost their mustardy bite and just added a nutty crunch.