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Trabocco Review (Alameda)

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We had an uneven but promising first meal last night. The restaurant is glossy and modern, design-y in a way that is unusual for Alameda, and even more so given its location in the South Shore Shopping Center. The chef is from Abruzzo, a region I have zero familiarity with, but the menu is studded with dishes I haven’t seen before (chitarrine al cacao with rabbit ragu, gnocchi in a squash, mushroom and white wine sauce) that I assumed were regional.

Pizzas were very good – beautifully charred crusts, more tender than crisp, maybe a bit thicker around the edge than ideal, but very good. We enjoyed one with sausage and broccoli rabe, and one with crisp slices of potato and huge, fat, fresh mussels.

The chitarrine was marred by crunchy clumps of pasta that had stuck together and not cooked fully, and the rabbit ragu was too heavy on sweet spices for my taste. Other pasta dishes on the menu (that we did not get to try) include an oxtail stuffed ravioli, and a butternut squash agnolotti.

The pork chop is a beautiful thing, smoky from the oven, a touch more done than I’d normally want, but so flavorful it made up for it.

The most compelling thing, though was the dish we couldn’t get – there is a different rotisserie meat each night, and we had the unfortunate luck to miss out on rabbit. They plan to rotate chicken, duck, rabbit, pork and goat in the future. I plan to call ahead on random days until I hit a rabbit day, and will try to pre-order one if they let me.

The restaurant was near full but not excessively loud, despite the general lack of soft surfaces, and service was enthusiastic, even exuberant. They have a private dining room for 16, as well as an outdoor patio space.

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  1. I agree that this restaurant is pretty, but I think, no offense intended to the original poster, that this is a case of the emperor who has no clothes.

    Our visit consisted of a waiter who spoke to us in Italian and corrected our pronunciation of EVERY dish (annoying!)

    Even more annoying was the chef who yelled out in Italian EVERY time someone came in or out of the door - it was like a scene from a Seinfeld episode.

    The food, meh, I had a salmon salad for lunch - the greens were dressed with an overly lemony vinaigrette (read:pucker up) and 2 very small slices of salmon for $18 and my girlfriend had some sort of squash-filled pasta absolutely swimming in melted butter - the filling? not great, also pricy.

    To top it off, although we were one of the few (3) tables at lunch the waiter and busser insisted on clearing on the side of the table that I had my legs crossed on (what can I say, I'm tall!) not once not twice but three times he stood and WAITED for me to uncross my legs so he could serve or clear a plate - he could easily have done so from the other side of the table. Annoying.

    There was another waiter there who walked around mumbling to himself in Italian, seems to be the only criteria for being hired.

    All in all, the locals seem impressed likely because they are not particularly sophisticated (hey, it has to be a step up from Applebees, which is a few feet away) and Panera down the row.

    I'm sure the chef/owner, who had a corporate job for many years, fancies himself a big restauranteur, (he touted his restaurant as the 'best' before it even opened) but despite the investment in expensive furnishings and the pricy build-out in the mall, the proof is in the pudding so to speak, and this foodie was NOT impressed by the food at all.

    If you're happy to have an overpriced and overhyped and poorly served meal, feel free to try it. There are so many other wonderful choices for a truly great meal in the east bay (and yes even in Alameda) that I will definitely pass.

    1. I went last week for dinner and was pleasantly surprised with Trabocco.

      The service was fine--none of the troubles or pretentiousness described by previous reviewers. I could kind of hear the owner/pizziaolo calling out hellos and goodbyes from his station. With all the hubbub of the space, it wasn't intrusive to my meal, though I did find it kind of cheesy like oldschool restaurateurs who go through their establishment glad-handing their regulars. But then, we have exalted our chefs to celebrity status and these people were eating it up! Who doesn't want to be "in the know"?

      We started our meal with the grilled octopus and the baccala. I was so excited to see octopus on the menu, especially grilled, as it is not a ubiquitous menu item. It was tender, well seasoned, and deliciously smoky with caramelized edges. We were also impressed with the presentation and taste of the baccala--shredded atop a polenta "croquette". And our mains were yummy as well: whole, grilled fish (not overcooked yet with crispy, smoky skin) and the porchetta (perfectly seasoned for this salt fiend, juicy and flavorful).

      It's a big and beautiful space. I'm excited to have a delicious choice for outdoor eating, despite overlooking the mall. I am surprised that Alameda is so enthusiastically embracing food at such a high price point. But this place is offering dishes not available at other island establishments, even the date-night spots. I look forward to going back with my ladies or with the hubby and trying a pizza (though what's with those pizza scissors?!), more octopus dishes, and cocktails on the patio.