Sandwiched between La Farine and Boichik Bagels on College Avenue is the newest addition to Berkeley’s baked goods scene — Casa Barotti, a casual grab-and-go “spizzicheria” offering regional Italian bites.
As soon as customers walk inside Casa Barotti, they are greeted with platters of freshly baked focaccia, crispy squares of handcrafted pizza and focaccia farcita with thin slices of porchetta.
“We came up with the name (spizzicheria) because ‘spizzicare’ in Italian means to nibble on,” said Daniele Carsano, the owner of the restaurant. “We thought it would be fun to open a small neighborhood place where people can come down to have a quick glass of wine, a few drinks and a couple of bites of things — and these bites being examples of street food from all over our beloved country (Italy).”
Casa Barotti opened its doors Tuesday morning and sold out in under four hours, according to Carsano. Its menu includes specialties from many Italian regions: farinata, a Ligurian chickpea pancake made with olive oil; panzerotti, a fried mini calzone stuffed with cheese and tomatoes and supplì, a tomato risotto croquette filled with mozzarella.
The opening has also generated buzz on social media among residents and students who are excited about the new Italian street food offerings in the neighborhood.
“Having a Southern Italian place close by that has a lot of different options will be great for the neighborhood,” said Angela Carlson, a resident who works in the area, in an email. “I’m especially anticipating indulging in the Porchetta Sandwich, the Recco-style focaccia, fried calzone, pizza by the slice and their beverage list.”
Carsano, originally from Torino, decided to open an Italian street food restaurant with two childhood friends he grew up with. While Carsano said he had prior experience in the food service industry, opening Casa Barotti in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic presented many challenges.
Of the three partners, Carsano is the only one in the United States, which presented difficulties that were further compounded by the many delays in the restaurant permit process, contracting work and deliveries that the pandemic brought.
After a nine-month delay from the restaurant’s scheduled opening in May, Carsano said he is grateful to everyone who helped support his business and looks to eventually expand the restaurant’s menu and service hours.
“We want them to know that we are passionate about what we do,” Carsano said. “We are committed to bringing an authentic Italian experience to the neighborhood. Going forward, we will improve our quality. We will improve our service until we get it down right and make everyone happy.”
Casa Barotti is located at 3204 College Ave. and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or until sold out, as of press time, Carsano added.