Belotti Ristorante e Bottega
Ristorante 5403 College Ave./Hudson St., Rockridge, (510) 788-7890. L-D M-Sat; $$$. Reservations advised.
Bottega 4001B Piedmont Ave., Rockridge, (510) 350-7619. M-Sat 11am-8pm.
|interior of Belotti Ristorante in Oakland, California|
Situated in a small, contemporary space, this simple spot’s big draw is the housemade pasta. It is yolk-heavy and served with a choice of six sauces and fillings. Kitchen action can be observed through a glass wall behind the bar in back. Though overall very Italian in feel, some of the ristorante also has a kind of cranky, stereotypical French demeanor that I experienced when I was greeted. In addition to bruschetta and a mixed antipasto platter, several salads make nice starters. The living butter lettuce is particularly lovely, served dramatically in the center of an oversize plate that is sprinkled with flowers.
|living butter lettuce at Belotti Ristorante in Oakland, California|
In fact, all the serving plates are oversized, to the point that my casoncelli--a family recipe from Lombardy featuring small oval pasta pillows stuffed with a beef-prosciutto-pork shoulder mix--were barely visible as they arrived, waiting until they were right in front of me to be seen. Though it initially looked small, this delicious dish (with a sauce of sage and brown butter plus small cubes of salty pancetta) was just the right amount for me to leave an empty bowl. Agnolotti di Lidia is another stuffed pasta, this a rectangular one from Piedmont and filled with a meat mix escarole and spinach. The dish I plan to try next time is simple spaghetti tossed with a San Marzano tomato sauce topped with burrata and basil. Usually one of my favorite pastas, the tagliatelle with a wild boar sugo disappointed me (I only tried a sample from the plate of my dining companion).
|tagliatelle with wild boar sugo at Belotti Ristorante in Oakland, California|
Several larger plates are also available--duck breast, snapper, and sometimes slow-cooked suckling pig. Complimentary bread with delicious Seka Hills olive oil is served by request.
|bread with olive oil at Belotti Ristorante in Oakland, California|
The wine list is mostly Italian, and the dessert list is a simple choice of panna cotta or tiramisu.