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Comment Archives: Locations: 4 Stars

Re: “Miss Pearl's Restaurant & Lounge (at the Waterfront Hotel)

Went to the comedy show last week, had a blast the comics were very funny small venue good food and drinks.... Will definately put this one on a rotation for the weekend..

Posted by yananader on 03/05/2011 at 11:15 AM

Re: “Giovanni Restaurant

It was one of those rainy, windswept days in Berkeley - when the cold went through your coat, lodging deeply in your bones.

I didn't care because my friend and I were sitting comfortably warm next to a roaring fireplace at the ORIGINAL GIOVANNI's, a glass of amazing Sangiovese in our hands, dipping pieces of fresh-baked focaccia into a bowl of extra-virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar...

For those unaware, Giovanni and his family founded this restaurant in 1961 and quickly forged a reputation as being one of the premier Southern Italian (the family is Calabrese) restaurants in the Bay Area. About 17 yrs ago Giovanni decided to retire early and new owners continued the tradition quite successfully until a few years ago, when everything went downhill. Approx 6 months ago Giovanni's daughters, Sara and Anastasia, decided to take on the daunting task of reopening Giovanni themselves, and managed to talk their Dad and Mom (Anna) into helping out.

I personally think they hit a home run! The music of Sinatra, Buble' and Ella softly great you as you enter. There is a full list of great Italian wines - something for every taste at true value... and at lunch you get a free glass of wine (or beer) of your choice. Cool! Like the focaccia, the pasta is made in-house daily, and served simply with olive oil and fresh parmesan. If you prefer, rich and tasty sauces such as Alfredo, White Wine, Vodka and classic Red are all available and well worth trying (I've tasted them all).

On this particular day I had the Chicken Parmesan w/Penne Pasta and Alfredo sauce. I passed on the veggies and asked for a little extra garlic on the pasta. Being lunch my friend first considered the sausage & peppers on a role or the grilled eggplant sandwich, but finally ordered the Veal Marsala with Roasted Potatoes & Sautéed Veggies. The cheese on my chicken was soft, flavorful and not tough or stringy like so many places serve... the chicken was so moist and tender you literally could cut it with your fork. Pasta was to die for. I managed to get a taste of the veal marsala before it was gone - real, tasty veal (not the "imitation" so often passed-off as veal to save money). Well, I know that's my next meal here...

By the way, service is both welcoming and attentive, and either Mom or Dad are present at lunch or dinner, and the beautiful Sara or the dazzling Anastasia are always present --greeting you, making sure orders are right, and generally overseeing the smooth running of the restaurant.

Now back to the important part: Dessert! With more wine firmly in hand we ordered both the Cannoli and the Tiramisu... I don't normally eat cannoli in restaurants because I'm always comparing it to my Grandmother's (who originally was from Calabria before settling in New Jersey). I know some of the desserts are made in-house, and since this cannoli was like I remember Grandma's -- just so damn good -- I have to believe that Anna had a hand in making this! Oh, and the Tiramisu? I did what I always do: eat my share at lunch and then order another to take home for that late-night snack with my lady friend (I mean... what girl could resist mascarpone cheese, raw eggs, sugar, espresso coffee, ladyfingers, dark rum, chocolate shavings and whipped cream... light, creamy, smooth, the rich aroma of strong coffee and the tantalizing hint of the liquor? How seductive is that?)

ORIGINAL GIOVANNI may not be the perfect restaurant nor have a trend-setting, Northern Italian fusion-style kitchen that many Bay Area diners seem to prefer after watching the latest episode of Top Chef... BUT, if you want a place that's both fun and romantic, good for business meetings or relaxing with friends... a place where you get good ingredients in classic dishes, prepared simply and where the presentation is not more important then the taste, and where everything is done with true love and caring - then ORIGINAL GIOVANNI is for you!

Posted by BCtheOG on 02/03/2011 at 9:35 AM

Re: “Massimo's

This is a real gem. It's in a strip mall. Table side preparation of some of the dishes are great. Best warm spinach salad I've ever had.

Posted by Mr. Bob on 01/28/2011 at 4:09 PM

Re: “Giovanni Restaurant

I’m really happy Giovanni’s has reopened again….new menu, fresh homemade pasta and keeping the best parts of the past, the pizza and foccacia bread. The service is warm and friendly, the decor has been up dated but it’s not a total make over. I still feel at home.

Posted by MOTMAN on 12/31/2010 at 11:56 PM

Re: “El Cerrito Plaza

was wonderful when I had my store there,the house of Butterflies, where we played D and D in the Bluebird meeting room, hope it is doing even better now. Hi Jeff, Brian, and Tony et all.

Posted by whiterdragon on 12/22/2010 at 11:43 PM

Re: “Monterey Fish Market

Excellent place for fresh fish. I bought sardines there and they were perfect. I w/ return for more fish soon.

Posted by jjlasne on 12/01/2010 at 10:50 PM

Re: “Al's Big Burger

This is your basic burger and fries joint, and they have good onion rings. Well-made and served hot, and inexpensive as well. I'd be careful about straying from their standard fare, though: one time I ordered a BLT and it was mediocre at best.

Posted by Machiavegli on 11/28/2010 at 4:38 PM

Re: “Au Coquelet

Good food, good beverage selection, nice place to study or meet friends for a chat or game. Lots of groups meet here -- book clubs, discussion groups, language clubs, that sort of thing. And there are plenty of folks just reading a paper and having their coffee. Flexible hours are the best -- night owls will be happy.
Only reason for not giving it 5 stars: The bathrooms are a little janky, and if you have an infant with you there's no great option for changing diapers (no counter or diaper table, not enough floor space).

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by gr on 10/29/2010 at 2:49 PM

Very sweet couple doing very nice things with their food. A very cool place.

Posted by Jay Youngdahl on 10/14/2010 at 6:03 AM

Re: “Masala Grill

Best cheese steak believe it or not! Their pizza is to die for too!

Posted by jeans57 on 09/02/2010 at 3:44 PM

Re: “Al's Big Burger

This is the classic American burger stand (metal, painted yellow, from the 1940's) with the classic burger. Accept no substitutes! Delicious and fresh, grilled while you watch if you sit at the counter. A bit pricey, but worth it. Bring your foreign visitors here for the real thing

Posted by Perryboy on 08/10/2010 at 5:44 AM

Re: “Old Oakland

this was fun, small, but there was a good crowd. the entertainment was good (8/5/10) i will be back in 2 weeks :)

Posted by samarasmama on 08/05/2010 at 8:50 PM

Re: “Rooster's Roadhouse

We've seen Bob Enos & The Soundwave many times, and have ALWAYS had a GREAT time! It's incredible that there is no cover charge, the food is yummy, the people are wonderful and the music is fantastic!

We HIGHLY recommend spending a very inexpensive, enjoyable and fabulous evening at Rooster's Roadhouse on Wednesdays to hear Bob Enos and the amazingly talented musicians that make up The Soundwave! Do yourself a HUGE favour and go see for yourself!

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by MusicLover on 07/06/2010 at 1:01 PM

Re: “Razan's Organic Kitchen

Healthy, organic, fresh ingredients, carefully cooked and assembled. Flavors are well integrated in the wraps and burritos. Good value!

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by PamelaE on 07/01/2010 at 9:30 PM

Re: “Rockridge BART Station

awesome! very short ride! SO MUCH FUN!

Posted by Olivia Weiss on 06/27/2010 at 10:24 AM

Not food that I hadn't had in an Indian place before, didn't get a huge Tibetan influence on the menu and had been to a Tibetan place in Taiwan last summer. But plentiful, tasty and very very nice service. Left my credit card on accident and they had it there put away the next day. Worth a visit to see what you think. For me just a one time visit but I don't go to the area much either.

Posted by happy2bme on 04/25/2010 at 9:16 PM

Re: “Grocery Outlet

A great resource for those in Berkeley on a budget, and one of the better closeout stores I've experienced. How many times have I been in a Big Lots wishing they had more food and less "stuff?" Grocery Outlet solves this problem.

I think Grocery Outlet must really save some people's asses who are actually poor, and not just on a budget. (Hint: if you can afford to care about eating organic, sustainable, local, or eliminating any particular ingredient for health/environment reasons, as opposed to just trying to put food on the table at all, you're not that poor.) I really wish I'd had one of these in 2002-3 when I was putting groceries on my credit card lest I bounce the rent check. Even for those of us who can afford to be a little pickier -- I try not to do high-fructose corn syrup or bovine growth hormone myself, which does drive up my overall grocery budget -- there are good deals to be had here.

Produce here, like in Chinatown in any city, should be cooked relatively quickly. The meat isn't gonna be grass-fed and grade A, but the situation is the same if you buy a big tube of cheap beef at Safeway. I've really been quite satisfied with the things I've bought here.

The stock is variable (treasure hunt!) but there do seem to be some staples you can rely on always being there. I mean, let's talk CHEAP coffee beans, and big jugs of vinegar, and lots of wine. I wish I knew enough to pick a bottle of wine on criteria other than "style I like that's $4 or less." Maybe someday.

Posted by jmuehlbauer on 04/05/2010 at 3:27 PM

Re: “Lanesplitter Pizza and Pub

The "& Pub" portion of the name is really important. Lanesplitter is a local chain, but this place does not have that franchisey Pyramid/Gordon Biersch/Rock Bottom feel at all. You might even find an old-time local at the bar. Thumbs up.

If you're just looking for drinkage, the beer line-up is way better than a pizza place needs it to be, which I appreciate. There are 12 taps (11 pretty regular and 1 rotating) and one cask beer. They seem to be consistently northern California beers (Moonlight, Iron Springs, Drake's, etc.). There are also some bottled beers, including a fruity Belgian...that, along with the wine and cider, can help please any of the "I don't like beer" people in your party.

Happy hour is 3-6pm M-F and an unbelievably generous 11am-6pm on weekends. It's $1 off, so the most expensive beer on tap becomes $4.25 and the cheapest, the totally decent Lanesplitter Pale Ale (brewed by Drake's) becomes $2.75. Nice.

Now, I can make my own damn pizza at home, but after a few beers those Lanesplitter pies start to smell really good. We gave in and ordered one last time, and because we were drunk, it had to be something like The Chopper, with 5 kinds of meat. Holy. F*cking. Cow. Yes, it's on the gourmet-pizza spendy side ($16.50 for a 15-incher), but hey...5 kinds of meat! A 15-inch mozzarella pie is a more thrifty $10.

And they've got vegan pizza, 'cause it's Berkeley.

Posted by jmuehlbauer on 04/05/2010 at 3:25 PM

We've been to this restaurant more than a dozen times. The small plates concept works well. The wines are good and inexpensive. The fries are excellent, as are the lamb chops and many other dishes. And the service is friendly. It's great for a low-key casual meal. They also have good music there, but then the place is noisy, so at those times, it's for the food and the music, not the conversation.

Posted by Father involvement researcher on 01/14/2010 at 9:57 AM

Re: “Amoeba Music

pretty good. also they always have concerts for kids! awesome

Posted by olivia weiss on 12/26/2009 at 6:40 PM

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