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Authentic Italian near Oakland and Berkeley?

So this is my post report. I was very disappointed with this restaurant but some of my guests like it more than me. In short, this restaurant is not a place for birthday dinners. I planned a birthday dinner there for 20+ since all my top choices were booked up and I was happy that I got a reservation.

I felt bad that some of us came late to our reservation but we had some guests hanging out there. I came with a birthday cake and asked them to put it in their fridge. Few minutes after, one of the server came back to me to tell me that they charge a $2 per person cake cutting fee!! I was irritated that there was no mention of this on their website or anything prior but I went with it.

A friend that came earlier got her food and she liked the clams with linguine but when I tried to order that but they were out of clams! The waitress recommended the Vesuvio (Shrimp, zucchini, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, basil, chili flakes and linguine tossed in a garlic wine sauce (mild upon request) so I got that. My dish came out bland and NOT al dente. The shrimp tasted good but i didn't touch most of the pasta. Another friend ordered the Vesuvio after wanting the clams and linguine and he mentioned his is bland too. The guests enjoyed the shrimp ravioli and Creolla. My friend got the calamari but it was mediocre and I thought the calamari were smaller than I typically expect.

So we had mango napoleon (I made it!!) and then the bill. I was most surprised that they charged me tip for the cake cutting fee! I racked up $60 of cake cutting fee for 22 people... Is it typical for people to charge tip on a service?? Some of my guests were surprised by their bill too.

This place is probably good for sit down dinner with a small group of friends but it is not a place for birthday party. The restaurant is on the small side so our party definitely took over the physical and sound space of that place which I'm not comfortable with. I won't be going back and much rather try other places that I found from the original post. Lesson learn to book well in advance when the birthday is around holidays like Father's Day.

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Trattoria Laurellino
4171 Macarthur Blvd, Oakland, CA

Jun 20, 2011
bonniemo in San Francisco Bay Area

Authentic Italian near Oakland and Berkeley?

Thanks everyone! It's really sad but when it came down to making the reservations most places were all booked unless I want to do super early or late reservations. I was able to score a reservation at Trattoria Laurellino on Macarthur Blvd so we'll see how that goes.

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Trattoria Laurellino
4171 Macarthur Blvd, Oakland, CA

Jun 17, 2011
bonniemo in San Francisco Bay Area

Authentic Italian near Oakland and Berkeley?

Ok! I've decided to go with Riva Cucina. I will do my best to report my experience afterwards! I just wasn't sure about Riva Cucina from reading polarizing reviews. I know there's always people that are super picky and all but consistency is important to me.

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Riva Cucina
800 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710

Jun 16, 2011
bonniemo in San Francisco Bay Area

Authentic Italian near Oakland and Berkeley?

My husband's birthday is this Saturday and I'm trying to finalize the dinner plans! We love authentic al dente Italian ever since our trip to Europe and we like Tommaso in SF but we're looking for a restaurant that take reservations with good service near Oakland, Berkeley, and Emeryville area. From the research that I did, Dopo, Trattoria La Siciliana, and Riva Cucina look promising but I can't pull the trigger to make the reservation... Any suggestions and comments are greatly appreciated!

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Trattoria La Siciliana
2993 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

Dopo
4293 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

Riva Cucina
800 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710

Jun 16, 2011
bonniemo in San Francisco Bay Area

Authentic Italian food in South Bay?

First time posting on Chowhound but I'm an avid reader! =) My husband and I recently went to Europe and ate some great food including Italian. His birthday is tomorrow and I wanted to do a casual get together dinner with our friends at an authentic Italian restaurant for group of 10 or less. Any suggestions for less than $20 per person?

To give a frame of reference, we enjoyed the al dente pasta in Florence and Rome and we also like Tommaso in the City but too far for a weeknight dinner.

Thanks in advance!

Jun 17, 2009
bonniemo in San Francisco Bay Area