The same three partners own both restaurants. The menu link below shows the same dishes for both locations. In fact, the pictures of the American Canyon restaurant show an almost identical décor down to the light fixtures.
It is the closest to an old-style red sauce Italian restaurant outside of North Beach. They do a decent job. And as someone else said on the web, its probably the only white tablecloth restaurant in San Pablo.
Seriously. I cant think of another place in the area that is not a mom and pop bare-bones place. It is not fancy, but you could comfortably have a business meeting there.
There was a mixed crowd of local workers, guys in suits, ladies out to lunch and a lot of older Italians enjoying their lunch.
There are daily specials. I went with the chicken cacciatore $11.95.
The bread basket comes with Maggiora Italian bread and house-made onion foccacia. The foccacia, almost an inch thick, is has a lovely soft interior and is topped with onions and brushed outside with olive oil A bowl of olive oil with lots of chopped garlic and a little parsley and red pepper comes with the bread.
There is a choice of soup of the day or salad. The smooth potato leek soup today had a chicken broth base. The server will grate as much parmesan cheese as you want on top. While the soup didnt have a deep potato or leek flavor, it was pleasant.
The cacciatore came with nicely cooked yellow and green summer squash and a delicious white fine-ground polenta. That polenta was the standout of the meal, full of cheese and butter with a creamy, elegant texture. The cacciatore of chicken breast pieces in a light tomato sauce with peppers and carrots was good.
They have a nice spumoni with walnuts and dried fruit for $3.25.
There are the all the standard Italian desserts on the menu including one I havent seen before which was a crepe with fruit that was flamed with rum. The cannoli is the Sicilian type with the shell lined with chocolate. They buy these from a bakery so I tried the spumoni instead. There are a few positive comments on the web about the tiramisu.
It is satisfying food, if not amazing. It is the kind of place where you have an enjoyable no-big-deal Italian meal with a nice glass of Chianti.
When the restaurant opened, one of the cooks had worked at North Beach Restaurant in San Francisco. I dont know if he is still there, but the food reminded me very much of that restaurant with lower prices. Actually I thought the quality was better than North Beach Restaurant.
La Strada recently did some work on the outside of the restaurant. Im not sure if the interior was redecorated. It is pleasant. The front room has large arched windows looking out on tree-lined Church Lane. They allow lots of light into the room. There is a second level in back strung with white lights that looks cozy and romantic. They have banquet facilities for up to 100 and searching the web for info about the restaurant turned up lots of groups holding events there.
The service borders on impatient. My server, while borderline pleasant, seemed close to snappish at times. Another waiter showed that same sort of almost brusqueness at another table. He made be think this might be what Tony Soprano would be like if he took the career path of waiter. I mean Tony can be a pleasant guy, but you dont want to ask too many questions. The managers are very pleasant though and stop by to ask how the meal is without being obtrusive.
I was amused and alarmed by the older Italian gentleman at the next table. This was one of his first outings after recent heart surgery. The day before he was at Rickys for the fried chicken.
Anyway, he was once a restaurant owner in the 80s and seemed to know a lot about the quality of the food at La Strada. La Strada uses the same small meat company that he did which he told his friend has high quality meat. He also highly recommended the calamari frito. In fact he took home an order.
I kept wondering where Rickys was. Fried chicken good enough to lure you in after heart surgery has to be good.
2215 Church Lane
San Pablo, CA 94806
Monday - Thursday: 11am to 9:30pm
Friday & Saturday: 11am to 10pm
Sunday: 11:30am to 9pm
I never knew there was different types of polenta. This company that sells polenta has a little about the different types and how they are used.
The menu below has a drop down box with dinner, beverages, appetizers, etc.
There are six preparations of veal available. The Pollo alla Griglia sounds interesting whole game hen sautéed with white wine, garlic and rosemary sauce. Panninis are available for lunch.
They seem to be still working on putting the menu on line since the dessert section is currently under construction and some of the other sections dont have all the items available.
The prices, for the most part, are a few dollars less at the San Pablo restaurant.