A group of six of us traveled over to Locanda da Eva's opening night.
The menu is divided into appetizers, pasta, pizza, entrees and vegetable side dishes. Owing to a chill in the air, we were interested in the warmer/warming foods and skipped out on the little gems salad. Other than that, we ordered everything on the left side of the menu--appetizers, pasta, pizza. The entree that looked most appealing on the online menu (a rabbit dish) wasn't available last night, and none of the other entrees charmed us, so we skipped that section entirely. We also ordered a platter of each vegetable side dish which, at $18 ($21 if you order separately) was a good deal. Someone noted that the entrees allow a choice of vegetable rather than arriving with one tacked on, which was nice.
My favorites were:
- Spaghetti with rock shrimp, grilled squash, chile-garlic soffritto and bottarga
- Rigatoni with chicken and pork ragu, mustard greens, wild mushrooms and grana padano
- Pizza with wilted kale and crescenza
- Puttanesca pizza
- Fried Brentwood corn with salsa verde mayo
The sweet corn with crispy brown kernels was simple and delicious, and the spaghetti, shrimp, chile-garlic and bottarga mix was something I'd order again.
I'll let someone else speak to the quality of the wine list, but the people who paged through it mentioned that it offered wines that seemed like excellent values. I think the bottle we shared was $24?
I will speak to the cocktails, as I love an interesting cocktail list. The two I most desired weren't available this evening (the Tilden Park Swizzle and Delicious Sour) but I was impressed by the list, which includes 11 specialty cocktails. I wonder if the bartenders will be able to handle that complex a list in timely manner--what you expect wait at, say, Alembic, is different than how long you'd want to wait in a restaurant where you might not want your tipple to tip into your appetizer and wine.
The space was beautifully lit, with a cheery din that didn't distract or make it difficult to hear one's table mates. We sat in the first room near the bar; I was too interested in the food to look around at other seating areas, but the bar, like Incanto's, seemed a nice place to enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine and a plate of pasta.
As to service, please imagine the following statement in 18 point font, all caps, and red. This was opening night and I don't expect all the bugs to be worked out yet. That said, our table's "bug" was that the dishes arrived on top of each other and even when I asked the progress to slow, it did not. The 5 appetizers, 4 pastas and 4 vegetables all arrived in less than 10 minutes. Rather than savoring and considering the appetizers, I felt like we were rushing through them just to make more table space for additional dishes we couldn't fit. If I came back in a few months, I would expect for the timing to have eased.
Locanda da Eva
2826 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705
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