As I mentioned in a thread below, hubby and I decided to try Eccolo Saturday night, when looking for somewhere in Berkeley to satisfy my craving for something roasted that I can't make at home until the oven is fixed...
We were running ten minutes late for our reservation, and I called as soon as I realized. I was a bit surprised to be told by whoever answered the phone that she would have to see when the table was needed again, and she then put me on hold to check the books, came back on the line, and said, in a doubtful tone, 'well, I guess that will be ok...anyway, I will let them know you will be late'.
After that, hubby drove like he shouldn't, and we arrived exactly 11 minutes after our designated reservation time, unsure of the reception we would receive, Fortunately, any attitude ended at the door: we were immediately made to feel very welcome and escorted to a great two-top next to the window: with a view of the room and yet plenty of space. At least in that part of the room it was quiet enough to have a conversation in normal tones, even though the room was full.
After really nice drinks, we ordered: apps were saffron arancini with spicy tomato sauce for me, chicory salad for hubby. Both were excellent, but the arancini was the star: perfectly fried balls of fresh risotto, stuffed with cheese, and delicious if only slightly spicy sauce for dipping. Great! At the very least, hounds who don't want to spring for dinner at Eccolo should consider trying these with a drink at the bar: they are offered on the bar snacks menu in the afternoon.
Mains: hubby had fried steelhead with a tapenade coating and fennel. The fish was perfectly cooked, still rare on the inside. He thought the tapenade overpowered the delicate and delicious flavor, but it was loosely coated and easy enough to scrape off the excess, so that the trout itself could shine, which it did.
I had the roast chicken with long-cooked brocoli and arugula. This was a generous serving, with crispy skin, cooked perhaps just beyond the point than I consider ideal, but barely so. It definitely satisfied my craving. I could have done without the broccoli, which was certainly long-cooked (to the point that it tasted almost burned: interesting, but not really tasty). The arugula, however, was perfect, and perfectly dressed with a very light vinagrette. An excellent, fresh tasting foil for the chicken.
Hubby is dieting, and settled for espresso after dinner. I had the espresso semifreddo with amaretti and chocolate. Fine, but not memorable by any means.
Service throughout dinner was excellent: our wine and water glasses were kept filled, server checked back to make sure everything was fine, plates brought and removed properly, and timing of all of the courses was perfect. Indeed, this was probably the best service I've had in a while, certainly the best I've had in a very long while at a place where I am not a regular.
Total with two cocktails, half bottle of wine, two apps, two mains, one dessert, one espresso, tax and tip was $135. Yes, it is a bit pricey, but no pricier than a lot of places in the bay area that I didn't think had food, service or ambiance to match. Hubby and I both agreed that we will return.
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