Instead of Rivoli (for a birthday dinner)

I had reservations at Rivoli for my mom’s birthday dinner next week, but I just got a call that they’ll be closed for kitchen renovations. Apparently the city of Berkeley kept them waiting for permits. So where else could we go at relatively short notice. (4 of us.) Just did Lalime’s for their anniversary. Somewhere nice, where conversation isn’t difficult. Cafe Rouge is too loud at dinnertime. I think they go to Revival, Five and Gather before the theater, so not there. We had a nice dinner at Bay Wolf shortly before they closed. Thanks. (And thanks for creating this site.)

Maybe Rivoli’s other place, Corso on Shattuck?

Maybe. I’ve only been to Corso once and though the food was good there seemed to be a lot of families with squirmy kids. I just remembered this is going to be on Monday. Corso is open then – I was considering Riva Cucina, but it’s closed. What’s Woodhouse like at dinner? I’ve only had lunch at the bar and it was pretty crazy.

Corso is probably going to be a noise bomb. Chez Panisse upstairs? (This can also get noisy.) Sometimes reservations aren’t too difficult. Belli Osteria? Any recent reports on Zut Tavern for dinner?

The back room at À Côté is quiet.

So is downstairs at Chez Panisse, though short notice can be a problem.

I’ve found Pyung Chang, Uzen, Riva Cucina, Marica, and Battambang quiet.

Iyasare? can’t remember.

You’ve eliminated several of my choices (for good reasons), As a result, my picks are a rather short list. In alphabetical order:

  • Chez Panisse (though Robert’s right – short notice might be a problem)
  • Chez Panisse Café (UPSTAIRS) – I’ve never found it very noisy, but maybe I’ve been lucky
  • Iyasare

But the question I have is why must it be within the city limits of Berkeley, as opposed to nearby in Oakland? (Say in the Rockridge, Uptown/Downtown, or Lakeshore districts.) If those are options, you’ve got at least a dozen more choices . . .

My mom is one of those people who think Chez Panisse is overrated. I don’t agree, but whatever – it’s her birthday. Iyasare looks very nice – I’ve filed that away for another time.

We did the backroom at A Cote for my husband’s 50th recently. The big table in the center was perfect for a group. I think we ordered everything on the menu and it wasn’t even that expensive.

Thanks for the ideas. I have decided to get out of Berkeley, but going the other direction. I have reservations at Farm Shop in Marin. I’ve only had lunch there, but I think it shouldn’t be too loud at dinner. The food’s good. It’s on that top 100 list – silly, but my mom likes to check them off. It’s near the water, no view, but water will be involved and she likes that, too. And she’s never been there before. Will report back.

Chez Panisse upstairs can be noisy. You could ask for a quiet table.

The opening post mentions Bay Wolf so Oakland is on the table. But I don’t know of many quiet places there, either.

Farm Shop was a good choice. An easy drive (that direction) and plenty of parking. It’s an attractive space, with lights in the trees outside. Not too loud, though it was bustling on a Monday night.

The four of us shared the salmon rillettes with smoked avocado purée, pickled huckleberry, dill & house-baked brioche; and the risotto fritters (meatball shaped) with sun dried tomatoes and basil pesto aioli. Both were delicious.

My mom and my husband shared the peppercorn crusted ribeye for two with wild mushrooms, smashed potatoes, crispy artichokes & horseradish salsa verde. It made her very happy. They brought it out first for her to see, then took it away, sliced it and added the sides. It was a huge amount of food. ($98, however.) I tasted the artichoke and thought it was great. For my main I had the cavatappi with crispy guanciale and charred broccoli with a poached egg on top, adding a sauce. It was one of the best dishes I’ve had in ages. My dad had the octopus with eggplant caponata, capers and medjool dates. The tentacle looked sort of small and lonely compared to the other dishes on the table, so he ordered a side of beets, too. Cheese, port and chocolate cake (with persimmon) were ordered but by then I’d sort of stopped paying attention.

Service was friendly and professional. For such a large restaurant it’s very well run. Our only problem was that my mom didn’t get her leftovers and we forgot about it until we were across the bridge. Still, it was a nice, festive, but stress-free evening.

Good find. Most of us over “here” wouldn’t even think of it, or know about it altogether.

In other news, Rivoli has plenty of construction activity going on.

A Nov. 8 post on Rivoli’s Facebook page says they’ll be open in a little over a week.