Always on the look out for decent eats in Castro Valley, I awaited with baited breath the opening of Paradisos at Willow Park Golf Course in Castro Valley. Owned and operated by the same folks at Paradisos, San Leandro, I had great hopes. The restaurant at the golf course has languished over the years, serving, basically, garbage. The course is owned and operated by the East Bay Municipal Utilities District, so you cant expect much.
My husband and I attended the grand opening in 2004just appetizers and drinksbut our hopes remained high after tasting the tidbits they offered then.
We were one of the first in the door later that week. Sigh. The Castro Valley jinx seemed to have settled in on the Willow Park Paradisos, just as it has on nearly every other restaurant here. I thought then that the place would be closing doors within the year if the older set didnt make it their haunt.
Not so. Even though the management refused to install the wood burning oven that makes the San Leandro Paradisos stand out, they were keenly aware of the shortcomings and over the past year and ½ they have worked hard to improve the place.
The wait staff is still young and inexperienced, but they are all friendly and helpful.
The dinner rolls still feel microwaved to me but:
The grissini real Torino served at each table is light and crunchy.
The drinks are quick to come and well made. My Bombay Sapphire martini is chilled and very, very dry. Huge plus: On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, they offer a half price wine night. Each bottle and half bottle is half priced. Although the wine list is not extensive or particularly inspired, its a deal.
On the appetizer list, the crab cakes are not overly breaded, and the baked brie is crusted with almonds and apples and comes with a wonderful cherry chutney.
For salads, I think that the Caesar salad with avocados is a bit odd, but the simple mixed greens has a great vinaigrette and comes with Maytag blue cheese, cherry tomatoes and pecans sprinkled on top. The baby spinach salad is also finefeta cheese and dried cherries accompanies the spinach leaves.
The entrees lean towards meat . . . red meat. This is, after all, Castro Valley. Boasting Midwestern aged beef, Paradisos offers porterhouse, flatiron and new york stip steaks each day. You can also get rack of lamb, short ribs and the ubiquitous hamburger. A nice filet mignon is often on the specials. I love the new york strip. It comes with garlicky mashed potatoes and mixed veggies and is very tender. My daughter loves the burger. Its huge and has that wonderful slightly charred crust. Served on a ciabatta roll and with wimpy fries, I generally bogart at least a few bites of the burger. My daughter says the fries arent (gasp) as good as McDonalds
I also like the Chicken Breast sautéed with artichoke hearts, tomatoes and white wine. Very tasty, even if it is only chicken breast.
BTW, if Tilapia is on the specials, its gently cooked and has a nice flavor.
So, there you have it. Paradisos is another choice for good eats in CV and it looks like the management has their eyes on the ball and is making improvements as time passes.