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Lungomare review (Oakland)

daveena | | Mar 9, 2013 07:57 AM

First meal at Lungomare this week, and I was really impressed. It actually reminded me a lot of Oliveto when they’re doing Oceanic Dinners, and I love Oliveto’s oceanic Dinners.

We had:

Red Flint polenta with wild mushroom and mascarpone – terrific, flavorful coarse polenta, rich with mascarpone. Can I admit that I’ve never understood the big deal about Anson Mills polenta? But this Red Flint stuff is fantastic.

Monterey Squid, borlotti beans, salsa verde – this was very good.

Braised Baby Octopus with a crispy chickpea cake – also very good. I had expected both the squid and octopus to come out in rustic looking piles, and both dishes were carefully constructed and plated – beautiful to look at, harder to share with a large group. The octopus, in particular, was much more refined than I had expected – it was sliced thinly, stewed, and layered between the chickpea cake and a cloud of ultrathin fried onions in such a way that I couldn’t figure out where the octopus was until I cut into it.

Rabbit Roulade, polenta, hen of the woods mushroom – this was great, maybe my favorite of the appetizers. Nothing fancy or innovative, just perfect execution.

Pizza with lamb meatballs, sweet peppers, Calabrian chili, fresh mozzarella. I was only able to get a tiny bite of this – the dough is very good, but could have been stretched a little thinner.

Squid Ink chitarra, clams, chili – flavors were spot on. The thicker pieces of chitarra were a touch firmer than ideal for me (I feel the same way about Chinese knife-cut noodles) - if I had been patient enough to let it soak up a little of the flavorful broth, I think it would have been perfect.

Papparedelle with braised pork shoulder – I didn’t get to taste this, but everyone who ordered it enjoyed it.

Corzetti, duck Bolognese. Again, nothing fancy or innovative, and you wouldn’t want it to be. Perfect execution. My niece complained that there wasn't enough pasta, but that could have been because the rest of us were sneaking pieces off her plate.

Grabish Farm Porchetta – a very generous slab of porchetta, smokier than other versions I’ve had. Very good.

Branzino with agridolce. Beautiful, fresh, perfectly cooked fish. They present the whole cooked fish before returning it to the kitchen to fillet. Warning – if you like fish cheeks and collars, ask to have the head returned to you. We lost ours.

In summary - all seafood were sweet and pristine. Land animals were cooked well too. Salt levels were perfect. Pasta textures were great.

Were there any weaknesses? Sure. The cocktails were sweet for my taste, and there were some service glitches. In particular, servers never seemed quite sure which dish belonged to whom, which normally doesn’t bother me, except that they were serving Oliveto-caliber food. There are some typos on the menu. For me, these are minor issues when eight out of eight dishes were good to stellar, one month after opening. I look forward to returning.