Pieter, a great friend of the BarFlys, threw a party at Oliveto Restaurant in Oakland to celebrate a milestone Birthday. This post is dedicated to Pieter for including us in his birthday celebration, and may he have many more! Booked in the glass enclosed private room, Pieter and about 27 of his closest friends filled the room with laughter and well wishes. Oliveto is a great choice for larger and private parties as they provide a 4 course meal comprised of items directly from their current menu to feed all of the guests.
There were so many options to choose from each course that it easily accommodated everyone’s palate. Each place setting was also beautifully set with a choice of a red Barbera or a white Verdicchio wine:
The Baby Chicories salad from the antipasti part of the menu came with a smattering of pomegranate seeds, candied walnuts and Pt. Reyes blue cheese. Dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette, it was a great example of a winter salad at its best:
The other antipasti we chose was the Minestra of Winter Vegetables soup made with a parmesan rind brodo. Drizzled with McEvoy Olio Nuovo, it was satisfyingly warm but could have probably used a sprinkle of parmesan cheese to add more heartiness and flavor:
There were only 2 pasta selections available, with both of them using red wheat penne as the base. The first featured a nicely spicy arrabiata (angry) sauce:
The second pasta sauce selection came topped with very tasty bolognese sauce. The pasta courses were prefect primi size portions, just enough to taste the nutty pastas, but not too filling at all:
The charcoal-grilled local swordfish came with fregola pasta alla livornese. The swordfish was slightly overcooked but tasty. The Castelvetrano olive-bread salsa added flavor and moisture to the fish dish:
The charcoal-grilled pork porterhouse sat atop the braised chard and cannellini beans it came with. The drizzled Southern Italian salmoriglio sauce (made from oregano, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic) was a great condiment for the perfectly cooked pork:
You have to love a restaurant where desserts are bigger than the pasta course. The Pistachio Frangipane Grapefruit Tart with vanilla ice cream was one of the best desserts we have had in awhile. The grapefruit added a refreshingly tart flavor to the sweet creamy and crunchy dessert:
As a last bite, the Bittersweet Chocolate Cake served with a whipped cream quennelle was not too sweet at all and ended the celebration on a bitter-sweet note since we all parted shortly after:
It had been a long time since either one of us had eaten at Oliveto, so this was a great re-introduction to the Oakland institution. Service was very efficient which can be difficult for larger parties. There have been some high profile chef changes over the years, but current Chef Jonah Rhodeham seems to be carrying the torch brightly.