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Restaurants & Bars 2

Oakland's Caffe 817

Rod Williams | Jul 8, 200502:12 AM

After my wonderful risotto lunch at Caffe 817 last week, I had to return, and dragged two friends with me for lunch today. It's in Old Oakland, at 817 Washington Street, between 8th & 9th Streets, an easy walk from the 12th Street BART Station, and with plenty of available metered parking nearby.

While waiting for our third person to join us, we enjoyed a perfect bowl of decaf caffe latte and a bottle of Santa Lucia sparkling water, at a shaded sidewalk table, watching the world go by. It was delightful, but a tad breezy and cool, so we moved to an inside table to eat lunch.

We had a couple of lunch specials -- a perfect risotto, this time with porcini, baby artichokes and pancetta; and a magnificent sandwich, in a crispy Acme roll, with poached beef, bathed in olive oil, chopped parsley and capers, accompanied by baby greens, baby artichokes and a wonderful potato salad in a ravishing, simple white wine vinegar and olive oil vinaigrette. The beef had a velvety, pot-roasty texture and a flavor that went on and on, and said, "Grandma made this." The third dish was a fine turkey and fontina sandwich, also on an Acme roll, with baby greens.

The family that seem to be the new owners are absolutely charming, all going out of their way to make everyone feel welcome, even during the busy lunch hours. I can't wait to get back for breakfast and see how good those eggs and polenta can possibly be.

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