Monday, September 10, 2007

C'era Una Volta

In Italian, "C'era Una Volta" means Once Upon A Time.

If you really want to impress someone (e.g. take someone on a date, take your hiring manager for lunch ;), etc.), this is the place to go. Fine Italian dining is what I call it. The place is nice and cozy and the location is hidden from the main street so not visible if you drive past on the 1300 block from the Park street. Got a chance to dine there when a friend got surprise proposal party there. The restaurant parking is accessible from the parallel street named Park Avenue. Reservation is a must.

The food was quite good and the staff is very friendly and polite. That's what you can expect when you are paying that kind of money to dine at such a fine place.

They do have a selection of veg. dishes. I personally love mushroom so enjoy anything with mushroom in it.

Starting with salads they have two we can pick from. Insalata Dell’Orto is mixed greens topped with seasonal vegetables and olives and Insalata di Spinaci has baby Spinach with walnuts and zesty onion dressed in a warm balsamic vinaigrette and topped with goat cheese.

Cannelloni di Spinaci is rolls of traditional pasta fresca filled with fresh Ricotta and delicate Spinach.

Gnocchi is potato dumpling pasta served with your choice of pesto, gorgonzola or meat sauce. This one you have to request the vegetarian version. It is very creamy and rich so quite filling dish.

And I got to try the Ravioli di Porcini that has porcini mushroom ravioli with mushroom cream sauce. It was quite delicious if I say so myself and not too filling.

Ravioli di Spinaci has ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta. This was quite good as well.

The Melanzane alla Parmigiana has delicate slices of Eggplant layered with Italian Cheeses and a light Pomodoro Sauce. Quite large portion even for dinner.

The place is closed on Mondays and their menu changes with seasons so not all of these items might be available throughout the year. They also host a (paid) monthly meeting of regional culture, food and wine.

My rating: 4.5/5

Name: C'era Una Volta, Caffé Enoteca Ristorante
Type: Italian
Average Price: $15-20/person (Dinner)
Address: 1332 Park Street, Alameda, CA 94501
Phone: (510) 769-4828

Here I'd like to share an interesting piece of information. Here in the US generally speaking it is a norm that when you go to an Italian restaurant, you are served bread and butter/sauce before you get your main course. They usually don't charge the guests for this bread and you can request for more, if you want more. This is true for certain Mediterranean, German and American restaurants as well. But what I found out recently was that in Italy, the guests actually pay for the bread also, along with their meals.

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