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Ristorante Raphael in Downtown Berkeley

jillyju | Feb 23, 200510:22 AM

I had plans to meet someone at La Note last night for dinner, a place I've never had a chance to go. Unfortunately it was closed, so we went down the street to Ristorante Raphael on Center Street instead.

As an earlier poster described, the breadsticks aren't worth eating, though they are served with some sort of tomato-ey stuff to dip them into. Whatever it was didn't have enough flavor to warrant suffering through the breadsticks. We shared a Caesar salad, which was very lightly dressed (too lightly for me) in a slightly lemony dressing, with inedible croutons but a couple of actual anchovies. We didn't finish it as it was quite disappointing. The salad would have seemed more at home in a fast food joint. I ordered the spaghetti al salmone. The housemade pasta was served properly al dente, the salmon was very moist, tender, and flavorful, and the tomato sauce genuinely spicy and garlicky. I got the last drops of sauce with my spoon. This was worth coming for. My dining companion had the Brodetto, which was three kinds of fish prepared in a white wine broth. She said she liked it quite a lot, but I didn't get a chance to try it. It looked good, if that counts for anything. Service was fine, prompt and unobtrusive. They kept my water glass full and my dining companion's cup of coffee refreshed.

While this will by no means become a destination restaraunt for me, I'm glad to know that after a movie or theater that there are more options downtown that are enjoyable.

Dinner for two, including coffee, tax and tip, came to $60. We also discovered a tidbit that others may already know, which is that the restaraunt was opened by Noah Alpert, of Noah's Bagel fame.

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