Benchmark Oakland 499 9th St./Washington St., Old Oakland, (510) 488-6677. L M-F, D daily.
One of several vibrant dining establishments located in a quiet neighborhood where trees strung with tiny lights bring cheer to the night, this corner restaurant is situated inside a vintage 1876 building that features original mosaic-tile flooring and enormous windows. Red walls are accented with a high black ceiling, which work together to provide a cozy feeling. You can see some kitchen activity and the red-tile pizza oven behind a zinc-topped semi-circle bar. The decor makes this spot is a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy.
This is the second location for this pizza-centric eatery, and it features the same wood-fired, naturally leavened pizza as at the first (Benchmark Pizzeria in Kensington) with the addition here of fresh house-made pastas and breads. The restaurant is noted for its house-stretched cheese and sourdough starter made with their own wild yeast. Menu highlights include a Caesar Salad, strozzapreti Bolognese pasta, meatballs with polenta, and a pizza topped with fried sage. My choices included marinated olives (a mix of plump green and small black orbs, some of which retained their thin stems), a colorful and flavorful orange-beet salad, and a spinach and thick-pancetta pizza on a chewy blistered crust. From two dessert choices, we opted for light, spongy Italian beignets made with ricotta, flavored with lemon, and presented with a dark chocolate dipping sauce. Specialty cocktails are on the menu along with an international wine list and assorted beers. In good weather, outside sidewalk-side seating is available.
|exterior entrance of Benchmark Oakland in California|
|interior at Benchmark Oakland in California|
|bar at Benchmark Oakland in California|
|red tile pizza oven at Benchmark Oakland in California|
|colorful citrus-beet salad and olives at Benchmark Oakland in California|
|spinach-pancetta pizza at Benchmark Oakland in California|
|beignets at Benchmark Oakland in California|
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images ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers