Oliveto’s Cafe & Restaurant in Rockridge

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Pappardelle with Rabbit in Bianco

At some point, you’re going to find yourself needing to forfeit your life as a stingy college student and go somewhere a bit more upscale, and when that moment comes, you want to make sure you’re going to the right place. Oliveto’s Cafe and Restaurant is one of those places where you’re getting what you pay for, both in terms of its atmosphere and its gourmet dishes.

Located down College Avenue near Rockridge, Oliveto’s is divided into two parts: a bustling, casual cafe on the lower level and a simplistic, formal but elegant dining restaurant, complete with paintings and a winding staircase upstairs. The cafe at Oliveto’s is open all day and great for a quick bite to eat and catch up with some friends. It’s well-known for its everyday dishes like oatmeal, paninis, pizza and salads. The restaurant portion, on the other hand, is known for its traditional Italian dishes, made from organic and seasonal ingredients from the area. It was also ranked one of America’s top-20 Italian restaurants by the Daily Meal.

Oliveto’s menu changes every day in order to adapt and transform to the seasons and availabilities of ingredients from the farmers the restaurant buys from. You could have tortelloni of house-made ricotta and parmesan cheese with candied walnuts and saba one day and be served pappardelle with rabbit in bianco the next. The possibilities are endless, and you’re going to be left surprised each time.

The tortelloni was absolutely delicious. The pasta was finely made, so that it turned out softer than the packaged and ready-made pasta we’re so used to. In addition, it was cooked so you could distinguish the taste of the ricotta from the Parmesan cheese but not so much that they didn’t blend well together with the accompanying walnuts and saba (syrup made from grapes). The pasta cost $18, but the freshness of the ingredients was definitely worth the cost, especially because Oliveto’s makes its own pasta. The only bad thing about the dish was that the pasta was quite thin and it wasn’t entirely filling, so if you order it, you’ll have to either also order an appetizer beforehand or a secondi dish or a dessert.

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Tortelloni of House-Made Ricotta and Parmesan Cheese with Candied Walnuts and Saba

Because Oliveto’s is a more upscale establishment, however, the dishes are quite pricey for college students. Pizzas in the cafe cost about $15, while an appetizer in the restaurant costs about $12 and a primi or secondi dish anywhere between $13 and $30.

If you’re looking for a place to go that’s going to impress both the eyes and the taste buds, and you’ve got some money to spare, then definitely try out Oliveto’s. Its dual atmosphere of a cafe and a restaurant means it is a great place to go at any time of the day, for any occasion, and its constantly changing menu promises that your taste buds will never get bored of what they have to offer.

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