Dateline: Livermore. It's cold and crappy, and I don't want fried. Strings just opened on North Livermore, by the Wal-Mart.I know it's part of a chain, owned by a corporation, owned by a conglomerate, owned by the Republican Party, but I go without thought.
Service is quick and smooth--no fumbles, no fuss. From the lunch special menu, I get Penne della Casa, described as "roma tomatoes, black olives, mushrooms, garlic, roasted red peppers and crushed red pepper tossed in virgin olive oil topped with parmesan and gorgonzola cheeses." The penne is just right, chewy but not doughy; the mushrooms taste up pretty well over the gorgonzola, which is fairly mild really. The peppers don't taste, but there's a real nice glow. Good proportion of garnish to pasta. Could use more garlic, IMHO. When I realize with dismay that I've ordered a meal with no meat, I hastily ask for a side of olive oil, which appears instantly. Pour some on the penne for a little more mouth feel.
The side of minestrone was really more like escarole soup, not a bean in sight, but tasty. The bread was crisp-crusted focaccia, lightly herbed. $7.99 and out.
This is the kind of place you want to have by a business park, in a desolate non-chowing suburb, on a winter day. Hot, fast, not fried. I'll be back.
Strings Italian Cafe
2205 Las Positas Road at North Livermore