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Oakland: Bellanico Restaurant and Wine Bar4238 Park Blvd. , Phone: 510-336-1180
Closing day: lunch Saturday and Sunday
Reviewed by: Tourmama from CA, review #3473
A friendly neighborhood Italian restaurant serving creative twists on rustic Italian standards, using seasonal, local, sustainable and organic products.
It was my daughter in Illinois who sent me an email suggesting we try this restaurant, mentioned by a Bay Area friend on Facebook. I forwarded the note to my son in Oakland, hoping we could find a time to try it. In one of those "small world" moments, he replied that the owners were the parents of one of my granddaughter's kindergarten classmates! We decided it was a "must visit" after checking out the online menus at their website!
So we celebrated my daughter-in-law's birthday with a fabulous and inventive meal. After a celebratory prosecco and some stuffed fried zucchini flowers and baby artichoke cicchetti, we moved on to the appetizers. DH and DIL had grilled asparagus, fresh homemade mozzarella and a parmesan cracker; son had a salad of scallops "crudo" - which disappeared before I could snag a bite - and I enjoyed a plate of fried chard stems, sweet, tender stems lightly battered (more like a very light tempura batter), with green garlic aioli that was amazing. Granddaughter went straight to her primi - a plate of homemade tagliatelli with a mild tomato sauce and cheese grated on to it by our accommodating server. (for $5.00, she had her choice of the tagliatelli or shell pasta, with the tomato sauce, butter or cream -- and it was a very healthy serving, too!)
DH chose braised and seared pork belly with rhubarb for his main course; son had orecchiette with a milk braised pork ragu that was rich and flavorful; I chose a lemon and fresh asparagus risotto that was perfectly cooked, and enhanced by fresh grana padana cheese. But it was DIL who hit the jackpot - she chose the gnocchi, served with carrot top pesto, with thumbelina carrots, baby artichokes, and ricotta salata. And the gnocchi were as light and tender as any I have tasted since my nonna passed -- perfect texture, with an intriguingly different, slightly sweet sauce featuring pureed carrots. She said she would not hesitate to order gnocchi again, whatever the sauce. Portions were definitely substantial.
Although none of us "needed" dessert - we all indulged. Son, DIL and I enjoyed affogato with delicious, rich gelato (vanilla for me, chocolate for the others. Granddaughter got a serving of chocolate gelato which she declared equal to that she had enjoyed in Italy last summer. And Bill had an absolutely amazing sgroppino of lemon, fresh strawberries and prosecco, that he reluctantly shared miniscule tastes of before clearing his serving dish and wanting more.
Great food, great service, a wonderful place to spend time with the family. And clearly a neighborhood place -- where outside tables accommodated at least two parties who arrived with their dogs, sat down for a glass of wine and some cicchetti, or a full meal.
I'm already planning a return visit some weekday evening when they offer a 4 course tasting menu for $24.00 -- see http://www.bellanico.net/menus/tastingmenu.pdf.
Dinner including a lovely bottle of prosecco and one glass of red wine for DH came to about $45.00 each for the adults, and under $10. for la bambina.
Unfortunately, my camera remained in my purse throughout the meal -- I was enjoying my meal so much I totally forgot to take pictures.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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