Tonight, 4 people (including 2 non-fooders) enjoyed a very pleasant dinner at my favorite restaurant in the East Bay.
The last time I was there with a chowhounder from L.A., I confirmed a creeping suspicion that it was not truly the Oliveto I used to know. The dinner was excellent, however (the chowhounder loved it) and I didn't give it any further thought.
Today, I happened to be dreaming about their sausages all afternoon, so the paucity of their famous specialty was actually disappointing. The only sausage offered on the menu tonight was mortadella with grissini. It was a superior velvety smooth bologna studded with pistachio nuts and peppercorns. But tonight, I really missed their soppressata, their prosciutto with melon.
One of the reasons I like Oliveto is that reading their menu is never boring. Tonight's menu was chock full of Italian names as usual, always interesting, but I thought it wasn't as interesting as it used to be.
I ordered mostaccioli with Jones Farm rabbit ragu, but they brought tagliatelle with leek cream and parmesan croccante. I wasn't really set on rabbit anyway, so I didn't say anything. The tagliatelle was homemade tasting, with very good cheese "croccante". Spezzatino of Watson Farm goat with fresh-milled polenta was a hearty dish, tasting a little like braised beef. Good polenta.
I really like Oliveto's desserts. Tonight's was no exception. Warm ricotta-apricot crepes with chocolate sauce was savory and satisfying without being cloyingly sweet.
I wonder how I'd have felt had I ordered cruda of razor clams with avocado, peppercress, and Meyer lemon. (That sounded good!)
Overall a very good dinner.with a good wine - Les Picaudieres Rousset Crozes-Hermitage 2003.
Yet something was missing. Have you felt it?
I went there tonight intending to write a longer, detailed review. I feel too tired, I miss the old Oliveto.