There are Italian restaurants in the East Bay that serve food that’s a bit more refined or more perfectly executed, but Desco offers something rare indeed: a hearty plate of pasta cranked out quickly enough that anyone working near downtown Oakland can enjoy a civilized meal and still get back to the office with time to spare. Chef-owner Donato Scotti touts his use of sustainable ingredients, and the food is meant to be simple and comforting — traditional dishes plated without pomp or fuss. As an added bonus, during lunch, each pasta or pizza is priced about $2 or $3 cheaper compared to the dinner menu, though the portion sizes are the same. Standouts include the casonsei (plump pork-stuffed pasta topped with crispy guanciale), the fresh pappardelle tossed in a lamb-cheek tomato sauce, and the piadina desco, a flatbread sandwich filled with pork belly, asiago cheese, and sauerkraut-like braised cabbage.
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun. 3-9 p.m.
Payment Type: Cash, all major credit cards