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San Francisco Bay Area

Oliveto Café is dead to me


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Oliveto Café is dead to me

Alba | | Oct 20, 2006 09:00 PM

Backstory: The first time I dined at Oliveto café a few months back, I was nonplussed by the lackluster food given Oliveto's reputation (realize now the food up & down are coming from different kitchens).

Since I hate to write off a place after just one visit, especially if it gets accolades from foodies, we dropped into O café again last night for a light supper.

We arrived close to 9 pm as many tables were leaving. The servers seemed quite harried nonetheless (we even spotted our server mixing a drink behind the bar before stopping by to check in and take our order).

We ordered the potato and celery soup, garden lettuces, pizza Napoletana and cannelloni with summer vegetables. And two glasses of red – one Sicilian, one Californian, both unremarkable but drinkable.

Our soup, which was an earthy, ruddy color and texture, was almost tasteless, seemingly without any salt or seasoning whatsoever. The salad was not bad – a very minimalist greens, salt, pepper, and vinagrette – but nothing special. The cannelloni arrived looking positively TV dinner-esque. Sadly, the texture and flavor were no better. It featured a thick, creamy béchamel sauce, again virtually tasteless, with mixed vegetables that seemed as if they’d been frozen, not fresh.

The pizza, while better than the dried out version we had a few months back, was just “ok.” It certainly wasn't bad, just not at all memorable - paling next to the pies we enjoy frequently at A16, Dopo, Pizzaiolo, Pizzaria Delfina.

Total bill including tip: $70. We left thoroughly unsatisfied with the meal and felt it’s an exceptionally poor value.

So, my question is, why does the café draw such a crowd? Is it the meats? The beau-monde scene? The people-watching on College? else? I confess, I simply don’t get it.

Next time we’re on that block in search of a light meal -- it’s going to be Pearl, or even Cactus.