Few restaurants in the Bay Area can match Prima Ristorante's passion for wine. In the years since 1977, the restaurant has spawned a wine shop, and together they've compiled a wine list with more than 1,500 items. The cellar must be as big as the catacombs in Rome, but we've never been allowed a peek. You can spend a couple of hours looking over the full list, but most people -- who'd rather drink than browse -- put themselves in the hands of sommelier J.D. Massler. A few questions, and Massler will steer you to what you want, whether it costs $25 or $600 a bottle. He and retail manager John Rittmaster regularly travel the world searching for sleepers and vintages from lesser-known regions, so there's enough to excite the most jaded wine geek (but you can get a glass of Chardonnay, too). And every week the restaurant features one particular varietal, where you can sip, say, five Shirazes from five different regions. Plus Prima now offers monthly wine classes, Merlot dinners, and even the occasional wine trip to Europe. Oh, yeah -- the food's good, too.
5478 College Ave., Oakland, 510-655-6469