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Best Antipasti 

Oliveto Cafe

The Italian version of mezes, zakuski, and other "before-the-meal" appetizers usually ends up being nothing more than a platter of pickled vegetables and cold cuts, but at Oliveto's casually chic downstairs cafe, the concept is taken a tad more seriously. Each tapas-size dish reflects a respect for seasonal ingredients, a sense of balance, and a hearty, rustic approach to fresh produce. Selections change frequently but might include crisp, verdant broccoli in a spiky anchovy-cayenne dressing; roasted yellow carrots and Tokyo turnips jazzed with Saracena olives; chunks of baby cauliflower and bell pepper ribboned with pine nuts and plump sultana raisins; a simple salad of sweet, tender corn kernels, and slender, perfectly al dente French string beans; nutty little ceci beans with bits of crunchy celery and a spicy anchovy-infused vinaigrette; or yellow wax beans with sweet basil and tomatoes, a delicious distillation of summer. The upstairs dining room is the East Bay's top destination for elegant Italian cuisine and offers a more refined antipasti experience: yellowfin confit with avocado and candied lemon peel, say, or rabbit bruschetta with sour cherries and walnuts. Upstairs or downstairs, you're sure to get your meal off on the right foot.

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