Oliveto: Living Up to Outsized Reputation in Oakland

Restaurant Oakland

Oliveto has become a beloved Rockridge restaurant.

Oliveto is an institution, an Oakland favorite for Italian food, built on the reputation of chef Paul Bertolli. With Mr. Bertolli scaling back to start the Fra’ Mani salumi company, I was interested to see if the restaurant’s rep was still deserved under recently promoted sous chef Paul Canales.

This two-story building houses some of the best Italian cooking on the West Coast and one of the more interesting chandeliers. Check out this metal spiral deal.

We received a complimentary dish of balsamic-marinated olives. I preferred the dark ones.

It’s almost redundant to mention another Bay Area restaurant with a great loaf of bread. But I’ll do it anyway. It’s my website, dammit!

Salumi Oakland

The evening’s sampler plate of Oliveto’s famous house-made salumi featured spicy salumi slices on the lef, toscanello cuts on the right, and crostini slathered with ciccioli. Spreadable meat was much better than it had any right to be. In fact, it was delicious, especially with olive oiled toast. Not only was the salumi great, but the little mound of Dijon mustard on the right was the best mustard I’ve ever tasted, gritty from whole seeds, a little sweet, and a little spicy.

Italian Food Oakland

Charcoal-grilled, pancetta-wrapped rabbit loin arrived on a bed of carrot-studded braised lentils. The dish was sensational. The fancy Italian bacon was crispy, and the rabbit insanely tender. Lentils filled out the rest of a comforting winter meal. If it were up to me, the world would be pancetta-wrapped.

Pasta Oakland

Nettle pappardelle with Hoffman Farm hen featured sensational tomato sauce and tender dark meat chunks.

Italian Food Oakland

A fantastic side of cauliflower with capers became tender from being cooked in brown butter.

We still had to drive home to Los Angeles, and it was already past 8 p.m., so we skipped dessert and hit the highway. Not that we needed dessert to know Oliveto’s Italian cooking was still on a high plane.

Oliveto: Living Up to Outsized Reputation in Oakland


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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