Monday, January 27, 2014

880 South: Oakland, Centouno

Centouno  101 Broadway/Embarcadero, Jack London Square neighborhood, (510) 433-5030.  L-D daily; $$.  Reservations recommended.  This vibrant corner spot is situated within a 1909 building retaining its original brickwork.  It is right across from Jack London Square and a short hop from Yoshi’s, with big windows overlooking the square and the active train tracks in between.  Originally known as the Overland House, because it was where travelers wound up for a rest after an overland journey before setting sail on the Pacific, it was also a favorite haunt of author Jack London.  Now famed restaurant waiter slang.  The international wine selections are all offered by the glass, making it easy to do some experimental pairing (I especially liked the sparkling Italian Donelli Lambrusco and the earthy New Zealand Old Coach Road Pinot Noir).  Several beers are also on tap.
designer Pat Kuleto has added his touch with an exhibition kitchen and a rustic Old World Italian d├ęcor with reclaimed barn-wood accents and earth tone hues.  Diners are treated to an eclectic, upbeat music mix and a wall of comfy booths, and a small counter also offers inviting seating to solos.  The brief menu offers Italian comfort foods designed to be shared.  My favorite item is the torta fritta, which is airy little pillow puffs of dough used to wrap around the accompanying house-cured salumi.  Risotto al vino rosso is not too hard, not too soft, but just right, however I would have like a sprinkling of something green for color relief.  I thought the breaded chicken breast was way too simple and boring, and next time will try one of the housemade pastas—perhaps the tagliatelle with Bolognese sauce or the Arrabbiata penne pasta with spicy tomato sauce.  Sliced, coated, and deep-fried Granny Smith apple rounds are an off-menu item worth ordering for dessert, but it would be hard to go wrong with lemon sorbet served in a lemon shell.  I enjoyed my petite cup of decaf espresso, or “Why bother?” as it is often referred to in

More things to do in Oakland.

Way more things to do in Oakland.

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images © 2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

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