Acqua e Farina – Restaurant Review – Hayward

I walked past Acqua e Farina several times, on my way to and from my favorite tea house, The Golden Tea Garden,  before I noticed its existence.  From the outside, the restaurant looked simple and inviting, like an old world, hole-in-the-wall sort of place.   I put it on the back of my mind as a place to try some day, and from there I retrieved it last April, when I was looking for a place to celebrate my anniversary, with both my husband and children.  We had a great experience then, which I repeated last night with a group of friends.

As we discovered once we actually went into Acqua e Farina, this little restaurant occupies the space which was once the home of Rue de Main.  The dining room is a little strange, with several smallish eating areas.  The largest one is decorated with wall paintings of  Italian village storefronts, so you can easily pretend that you are eating al fresco in a piazza.  It’s quite nice.

The menu is filled with classic Italian and Italian-American dishes.  The pasta ones are nicely priced in the low-to-mid teens with meat and fish dishes in the high teens.  A porterhouse steak tops the price list at $30.

We started by sharing the prosciutto ($8) and the polenta ($7).  The prosciutto, which came wrapping thick slices of melon, was good, though this is not a favorite dish of mine.  The polenta, however, was outstanding.  The baked slices are served with mushrooms in a Madeira sauce that is just out of this world.  I’d had it in my previous visit, and it was just as good this time.  Don’t miss it.

For my main dish, I had the gnocchi della casa ($14), which came with a creamy tomato sauce.  The gnocchi just melted in my mouth, and the sauce was quite pleasant.  Like most of the entrees at Acqua e Farina, this wouldn’t win any culinary awards, but it was solid.  My previous visit I’d had the spinach ravioli in meat sauce ($14), and I had enjoyed them, but not as much as the gnocchi.  This time, my friend Katrina had the ravioli but in a pesto sauce, which she enjoyed very much.  At a previous visit, one of my daughters had the lasagne di carne ($14.5), which she also liked.  Again, no culinary awards, but good, simple Italian food.

Acqua e Farina may do even better with its non-pasta dishes.  Eddie found her salmone alla griglia, salmon grilled and served with a garlic, basil and fresh tomato white wine sauce ($19.5) to be the best salmon she’d had in a while. Parker, meanwhile, was very pleased with her melanzane del giorno ($12.5), eggplant in a tomato sauce, topped with mozzarella.  She found it a big heavy on the cheese for her taste, but thought it was very good.

The desserts may be Acqua e Farina’s weak point.  My ricotta cheesecake ($6) was light but unexciting, and while I didn’t try Eddie’s lemon sorbet ($4), I did notice she only ate half of her dish.  I can’t remember what I thought of the tartufo di cioccolato ($5.5), chocolate ice cream with hazelnuts, which I had in my first visit, which means it wasn’t particularly memorable.

Service was outstanding both times. The waiters were attentive and friendly, though this time they failed a bit in the replenishing drinks part.  The meal after tax and tip came to about $133.

In all, Acqua e Farina is a solid restaurant for when you want a nice night out at a moderate price.

Acqua e Farina
22622 Main Street
Hayward, CA
510.888.1568
http://acqua-e-farina.com/
Lunch: M-Sa 11 AM – 2:30 PM
Dinner: Su-Th 4-9 PM, F-Sa 4-10 PM

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