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San Francisco Bay Area Oakland

Cafe Rustica in Rockridge (Oakland)

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Restaurants & Bars

Cafe Rustica in Rockridge (Oakland)

Janet A. Zimmerman | Jul 11, 2002 11:07 AM

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was looking for a inexpensive and not exotic restaurant in the Rockridge area to take my parents to. Since my parents and sister were wandering around the neighborhood for a while before I got off work and liked the look of Café Rustica, we ended up going there for dinner. We had a pleasant time and surprisingly good food, especially for the price.

We started with the large antipasti/salad plate, which turned out to be a platted covered with four salads, a back quarter of their rotisserie chicken, some sliced ham and a head of roasted garlic. The greek salad was unexceptional, but the other three salads were quite good: a spicy salad with garbanzos, black beans, kidney beans and onions and peppers, dressed with a light vinaigrette; a jicama and grapefruit salad, and a really tasty fresh corn salad, which was mostly corn with a little diced green pepper in a chipotle vinaigrette (of everything we got, I’d say the corn salad was the truly outstanding dish on the table). The chicken was tender, practically falling off the bone but not dry at all, with a crisp skin. The bread could have been better and we only had two slices to begin with, which didn’t go far with the garlic. But the waiter happily brought more when we asked.

By then we were full enough to stop eating, but of course we didn’t. My father had ordered the half chicken, which came with a choice of sides. He picked “Texas style” beans and a spinach salad. The beans were fine but not outstanding and the spinach salad was nice – very fresh spinach – but the star was the chicken, which was again moist and flavorful. My sister and mother ordered one of the special pizzas to split. It was fairly traditional: sausage, artichoke hearts, a few onions and peppers. The sausage was great (lots of fennel seed, which we all like); the crust was medium thick but nice and crisp; and the pizza was nicely balanced with no one ingredient dominating. My ravioli (stuffed with smoked mozzarella) was good; a very fresh tasting chunky tomato sauce raised it above the ordinary.

With two glasses of decent Montipulciano d’Abruzzo, our bill still only came to about $50 (before tax and tip), and we took most of the pizza and a big piece of chicken home for the next day. I’m sure we could have gotten better food at some of the other places on College Ave., but this was perfect for the circumstances – nice, comfortable food at very reasonable prices.

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