Restaurants & Bars

SFBA Trip Report- Rivoli Swans Gordo Zarri's Casper Acme

Chris G. | Mar 29, 200607:25 PM     9

My wife and I spent Thurs-Sun with my folks in Berkeley. We ate quite a bit. Trip report follows:

-Thurs: Arrived in OAK; lunch was a Costco dog at the San Leandro branch. Kept it light since dinner was special...reservations at Rivoli.
Dinner- Rivoli. Bottom line...good food for a fair price, but hardly "best in the area". This does not rival the great restaurants elsewhere in the country. However, for the prices, the quality is superb, so I recommend it. The food is very good, but not particularly inventive, nor is it presented particularly well. I would go back, but after I had been to the other great SFBA restaurants (Gary Danko, Zuni Cafe, etc.) The chow...
I had the portabello fritter; wife had the sweet potato gnocchi. Good apps; I liked the mushrooms. The gnocchi was a little soggy, but good sauce. Bread plate was sourced from Acme...excellent.
For entree, I had the chicken roulade...good, but not imaginative or inventive. Wife had the veal with hollandaise. Also good, but not "blow you away" good.
I asked the waitress to recommend a wine; she was a bit overwhelmed and safetied with a Pinot. I would've expected them to jump at the opportunity to show off what appeared to be a very nice wine list.
Dessert was hot fudge sundae for me...great use of fresh ingredients. Wife had a chocolate torte; very good as well.
The seating was incredibly close together...hard not to get caught up in your neighbor's conversations. Not the place for a quiet romantic dinner, unless you called ahead and specifically requested an isolated booth.
So it was good, but not great, and definitely not worth the hype.

Late breakfast at Casper's in Albany; split a dog, and my wife, who likes her dogs with ketchup only, said it was pretty good. (She had it the Casper way; no k-word, but mustard/relish/onion/tomato.)

Snack at Acme Bread. Fabulous.

Lunch at Zarri's. (Actually a submarine sandwich made "to go" and eaten at the Grinell squirrel sanctuary at Cal.) Fabbo. BTW, they have been bought out, and the Zarri family will no longer work there at the end of '06. New owner is supposed to keep it the same way, so my fingers are crossed. It's so good, I'd hate to lose it. I've ben going there since the 80's.

Dinner at Gordo's Taqueria on Solano. I used to love the place; ate there as a kid. Now...not so much. I was not thrilled with the chicken super burrito my wife and I split...maybe b/c I forgot to order it with guac inside, but there just wasn't much there. In fact, I find Chipotle marginally preferable. Guess I need to go to the Mission, or Picante, for the real deal again.

Starbucks coffee and donuts from Donut Star at the El Cerrito BART station. Tasty, and a nice treat to get a blueberry donut that I can't easily find in San Diego. BART to SF to go to Swan's Oyster Depot. Great place!
We waited in line ~30 min, then sat and ate. I had a half dozen oysters; wife had a bowl of clam chowder; we split a seafood cocktail. Great meal at a reasonable price, especially considering the freshness and quality of the shellfish. Also a good Anchor Steam on tap and Boudin bread.
Walked to Ghiradelli square for cocoa, then BART home. Mom cooked dinner.

Home again...hit Happy Donut on the way out; better than Donut Star. But I think all SFBA donut shops are pretty darn good.

Looking forward to the next trip...

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