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Trip report -- Adagia (Berkeley)

Prabhakar Ragde | Sep 11, 2005 03:40 PM

I usually use the phrase "a nice place to take your parents"
as faint praise, but it really is true of Adagia, which is a good
thing, given its location. The nearest point of comparison
(geographically and thematically) is to Zax, but Adagia is better. The
room helps, one of those big high-ceilinged wood-panelled university
common rooms with a fireplace at one end. The menu is long on comfort
food, but with some nice bold touches. My charred squid was dusted
with Aleppo chile and arranged on top of a salad that included pickled
ice radish; the lamb shank was more conventionally presented with
fresh shelling beans. Other starters included rabbit stracotto with
gnocchi, heirloom tomato salad with cress and fresh mozzarella; other
entrees included prosciutto-wrapped monkfish and spaghetti
all'amatriciana with house-cured guanciale and heirloom tomato
sauce. (The kids were bold to order this with memories of Roman
versions fresh in their heads, and they're fierce critics, but this
won them over.) Desserts are fairly conventional: almond cake with
strawberries and chantilly, mascarpone cake with berry coulis, and a
Moroccan rice pudding -- I don't know what made it Moroccan, but it
was tasty. The wine list is interesting and pours are generous; the
service, alas, is long on perkiness and a bit short on timing. And
this alone would merit an extra star: the place was half-full, but we
were able to carry on a conversation. We could hear other diners, but
as a low hubbub rather than an earsplitting roar, as at most
restaurants that serve food this good. Tables are far apart, and the
wood seems to soak up some sound. This place is going to do well. --PR

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