But Oliveto can’t be that simple.
I got back to Rockridge from after school night at nine pm, starving. I. was at a work dinner, and rather than return to an empty house to scrounge something together, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to have a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine at the bar at Oliveto.
When I got there I turned exhausted self and my gastronomic experience over to the capable hands of Finn, who often works upstairs behind the bar. When I told him I was coming from BTSN he immediately started mixing me a Vodka Nero. Now, I’ve always been curious about the Vodka Nero cocktail offered at Oliveto, but never tried one. Let me tell you, it was worth it. It was really, really good. I mean really. Finn mixed Ketel One with Navarro Pinot Noir grape juice and a tad of lime juice. Exquisite. The pictures are bad, because all I had was my iPhone, and the lighting is dim, but I must include them anyway:
There is something about how they grow Pinot Noir grapes in Mendocino that is unworldly, and Navarro is just TO DIE FOR:
Then I got the glass of wine, Pinot noir (this time with alcohol), and the bowl of pasta I’d been hoping for. Finn helped me select the farro spezzatini with boar meatballs. The meatballs were made completely delicate with a subtle hint of juniper. Yet the spezzatini itself was strong enough to make the entire experience both refined and comforting.
Then, as Finn plied me with Pinot Noir, Fernando helped me pick dessert. I can’t even remember exactly what the ice cream was, just that it had toffee–oh yes and almond base! And it was delicious.
Sitting at that bar is just a slice of heaven. I stared into the fire in the wood burning stove, watched as Hoffman farm hens were cooked under a brick, and chatted with the wonderful people of Oliveto. I even spied through the kitchen door Paul Canales wrapping proscuitto in the back, hopping around energetically in his black beret, black Monterey Fish Market sweatshirt, khakis, and black converse. It’s hard for me to remember a time I’ve seen him in anything else. He served the table of VIP’s behind me on the balcony the prosciutto, and had even removed the beret to do so. After chatting them up, he came back behind the bar, and scrubbed his hands in the sink. It’s amazing to spy and artist’s hands; his fingers fit together nicely, making his hands into two cups he scrubbed toghther. He walked by, I caught his eye, and he said, “keeping out of trouble?” I said, “sometimes.”
Finn wasn’t done with me. He poured me a glass of sherry by Pedro Ximenez. You can catch a glipse of the troublemaker behind the glass:
It was quite an experience, the Pedro Ximinez. Unbelievable taste, strongly reminiscent of molasses, of which I’m a huge fan. It must be my Southern blood.
At nine when I came in, the people of Oliveto were scurrying around, making every amateur diner’s night a magical experience. They are amazing those people of Oliveto. Everyone from the busser to the manager has a spark, a wild spirit if you will, along with great knowledge and pride in their work. Sitting there at the bar surrounded by convivial atmosphere (and two gorgeous large scale fall colors arrangements with leaves, snowberries, and rosehips!) I just wanted to MOVE IN and LIVE THERE. It’s that great.
By ten things had calmed down, Paul was out the door, and Sarah, who drew me in to Oliveto in the first place came over for a little chat. Another great night at my home away from home.
Long live Oliveto. Bravo i miei amici, Bravo!