Slow down to enjoy life at Bartavelle in West Berkeley

Bartavelle Coffee and Wine Bar is known for its gourmet combination of local ingredients, such as butter from Marin’s Straus Creamery, and its typically high-end ingredients, such as prosciutto. Walking into this eatery reminded me of my home and childhood. My parents would often bring me to unique, local brunch places in Salt Lake City where families and close friends gather in a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere.

When I initially stopped by Bartavelle, I was in a rush to eat my food and go about my day, but seeing people relaxing and chatting, basking in the sun and sipping on coffee or wine made me want to do the same. I sat outside on a wooden bench and looked over at a mother telling her toddler to try the prosciutto. The little girl was hesitant, but everyone else in the family was happily sharing various dishes on the table. The environment and the restaurant’s slower pace made me miss home. As college students living close to a large city, we sometimes forget to slow down and enjoy the little things in life that come our way. Inadvertently, we create a void in ourselves, but it’s a void Bartavelle can fill.

The menu has porridge, farm egg, sandwiches and savory boards served with bread. These items may sound plain, but the ingredients and preparation spice them up. One porridge option contains sea salt and ghee, a type of clarified butter, or sesame and gomasio. The farm egg comes with olive oil and sea salt or with aioli and anchovies. A sandwich combination consists of sheep milk ricotta, kale, arugula, shallot vinaigrette and prosciutto. Many people were eating savory boards with bread, such as the prosciutto one with salami, house pickles and quadrello cheese. Per a staff member’s suggestion, I ordered the avocado, olive oil, sea salt and marash pepper toast on Acme bread. My inner coffee addict also had to try the Sightglass Coffee, which comes from a San Francisco-based company that sources and roasts green coffee.

The Sightglass’ Ethiopian variety, a made-to-order drip coffee from the Guji zone in Ethiopia, tasted subtly sweet with hidden notes of jasmine, ginger and bergamot. The coffee retained its slight bitterness and gradually gained a sweet creaminess.

The toast was a striking contrast between the fresh, crisp, light green avocado and the darker, more subdued hue of red marash pepper. The olive oil, sea salt and pepper brought out the avocado richness, and the lighter-tasting sourdough bread balanced out the creamier texture of olive oil and avocado.

Bartavelle stands out as a relaxing place for a weekend brunch — a place to slow down and forget about the stresses and worries of life for a bit and a place to indulge in some prosciutto and Acme bread with a nice glass of wine or cup of coffee. The distinctive menu is a guilty pleasure of any food lover, and the overwhelmingly alluring atmosphere and food make Bartavelle definitely worth a trip.