Sneaking in a post on this weeks Friday meal before house guests come back from a day in the city. I've eaten at Oliveto a few times over the years but had never eaten at the downstairs restaurant.
Their Tomato Festival menu got our attention though, and having struck out with Open Table reservations for upstairs, downstairs it was. We walked in at 9:00pm on a Friday and were seated right away.
Our waiter and I recognized each other as Dopo regulars, and he had good information on the brunello di montalcino that we wound up ordering. The wine maker was very hands on, and the wine was very fruit forward.
Salumi Plate: relatively thick slices of soppresetta, a coarse pate, and a really coarse pate served on toasts. This last pate tasted almost entirely of salt and fat. The wine cut right through it though.
Verdura della stagione: carpaccio of zucchini with pine nuts, parmesan, olive oil, and basil - this had the curious effect of underscoring just how like carpaccio anything prepared in this way winds up tasting. cool thing about this preparation was the curls of parmesan that covered the plate, some Microplane #35009 action in full effect.
antipasto misto: beans with salt, almonds, mozzella di buffula, heirloom tomatoes with garlic. everything was a little heavier on oil and much heavier on salt than I would have liked. First bites of everything were great, but subsequent bites were overwhelming.
One note on tomatoes. Heirlooms of all kinds are so good and so cheap right now at both Berkeley Bowl and the Grand Lake Farmers' Market. About 2.00 a pound. Tough to do better than these.
penne w/ beef ragu: I liked this, even if the wood oven left the pasta a bit dry. Imagine really good mac and cheese with a quality beef ragu underneath.
pizza del giorno: heirloom tomatoes slices on a white pizza. The crust was prepared well but didn't have much flavor.
brunello di montalcino "la palazzeta" - tight and bright at first, gave way to full bodied mouth feel.