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Dining With Joey

For this year's birthday, Joey took me to one of his favorite restaurants - Oliveto's in Oakland. YUM!!!!!!!!

I had issues just getting INTO the restaurant. There is the cafe downstairs and the restaurant is upstairs. As I was going towards the cafe, I read a sign on the door which said Oliveto's restaurant 40 feet that-a-way. So I walked past the cafe and went over to where the actual address for the restaurant was. The doorway looked like the entrance to an apartment building or a typical medical building on pill hill (very narrow) - a flight of stairs up and a dingy hallway. I looked at the building directory and didn't see Oliveto's. Must be the wrong building. I followed a mother with a 6ish year old in tow out of the building. In tow, well sort of. He was looking all around and she was in a hurry to go the the store next door and she went in and he kept walking. He suddenly noticed that Mommy wasn't in front of him and started to panic. OOpsy. At least I was able to point him in the right direction. Poor kid.

I looked back at the door, and saw a sign that said "Oliveto's - 2nd floor. Take elevator". So I went down the dingy hallway and took the elevator to the 2nd floor. There were bathrooms and a door that led to a catering area and lots of chairs. Saw a sign on the door with a keypad. Said "Customers and delivery people ring bell". Oh boy, was this a posh restaurant that you had to know the secret code to get in the restaurant? I rang the bell. It was answered by the busboy. He took me over to a maitre'd who then told me that a gentleman had already checked in and that the gentleman was probably waiting downstairs - at the cafe entrance. Boy, did I feel dumb. Found Joey. Yay! Back up the curly-q staircase to dinner.


Started off with an "Armando Pera" (St. George Spirits Pear Brandy, Vodka, Lime, Sugar) served in a martini glass. Love Pear Brandy (once I get over that first shock of brandy burning its way down to my tummy)

Affetati misti: selection of Oliveto salumi - 5 differnt types - I liked the copa the best.

Oliveto pâtés: ciccioli and poultry liver with peach mostarda - the ciccioli (pork on crostini) was very good, but very fatty. A little bit went a long way. The poultry pate (pigeon and hen) was very tasty!

Potato gnocchi with Chanterelle mushrooms, garlic,and herbs - YUM!!!! Joey said he could have 3 servings of this and just be very happy. It was wonderful.

As I had never had pigeon nor rabbit (I think), and I was feeling brave, we split the following:
  • Charcoal-grilled Jones Farm rabbit saddle stuffed with Caciocavallo cheese, currants, and bread
  • Charcoal-grilled Paine Farm pigeon with grilled polenta, tomato jam, and liver spiedino

They were both delicious! I have to admit, having the pigeon served with one hooked claw was a bit disconcerting *g*

Side dishes were young escarole with blood orange agrumato and fresh-milled polenta

Pinot Noir, Paul Mathew, Sonoma Coast, 2006
Grenache, “Triumph,” Gurrida di Randazzo, Sicily, Italy, 2002
Monica Isola dei Nuraghi, “Perdera,” Argiolas, Sardinia, Italy, 2006

The pinot was tasty, but the grenache and the argiolas had that something extra. Liked both for different reasons. The argiolas had this sweet start, then it was a bit acidic and then a hint of sweet/tart fruit before finishing off a bit more tannic. The fruit taste was just so hard to pin down - melon? cherry? It changed as the wine breathed. In the end I couldn't taste the fruit at all.

Dessert! I had the Elephant Heart Plum Ice Cream with Plum Caramel Sauce. I prefered he ice cream without the sauce - it was that good! Joey had the Warm Jonathan Apple tarte Tatin with crème fraîche and the rest of the ice cream.

Thanks Joey for yet another special birthday treat!!!

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