Mazzini's Tratoria has closed
Sunday night seems to have become our "going out" night and this time (Feb. 2002) we decided to go to Berkeley and try Buttercup Cocina, a pan-Latin American restaurant. Alas, we didn't call before we went and once there we found it was closed for the evening. We also found that most Rockridge/Elmwood restaurants seem to be quite busy on Sunday nights. We thought about a few alternatives, but finally decided to try Mazzini Trattoria. I had been meaning to go there for quite a while, and this seemed like a good occasion.
The restaurant was also quite busy, but we were able to get seated right away. Later patrons without reservations seemed to be directed towards the bar. The restaurant seems to have two main dining rooms; we were in the one near the front where the bar is located. It was a pleasant enough location - the bar had an old-world air to it that I found quite pleasant.
Mazzini is a pretty upscale place and with jeans/t-shirts/sandals, we were a little bit underdressed for it. Most of the clientele seemed to be older and nicely dressed. Still, being in Berkeley, we didn't feel too much like fish out of water.
Service throughout the night was adequate but had a few glitches. Our waiter offered us more bread after he took away the empty basket - but did not bring it until we were waiting for dessert. It took a little bit too long for our desserts to make it to the table - and even longer to get the bill. Still, we only spent about 1 hour at the restaurant so it might have been more a question of perception than anything else.
The menu was very short and featured three appetizers (average about $9), about as many soup/salads and about six entrees (two pastas, a fish dish, a chicken dish, a steak and a lamb chop dish, priced at about $13-21). That didn't give us much to choose from so we decided to skip the appetizers and go directly to the entrees. Both Mike and I were in the mood for pasta, so he went with the spinach fettuccine with shrimp and chili and I decided on the pasta bolognese (I forget what type of pasta it was). We also consumed quite a bit of bread & butter - the bread was just OK but we both really liked the butter.
Mike liked his fettuccini dish quite a bit. He thought it was too small a portion, though they certainly did not skimp on the shrimp. I was less happy with my pasta. Unlike most versions of this dish, where the pasta is served with a ground-beef sauce, here it was served with very subtly tasting boiled/stewed meat. I thought at first that this made the dish quite bland, though it started to grow on me towards the end. The portion again was a little bit too small, however.
We accompanied the meal with cokes, which I thought were way too overpriced ($2 for a small, ice-filled glass, no free-refills!), but at least they were not flat. Mazzini also offers a relatively large variety of wines by the glass as well as bottles, and quite a few mixed drinks.
The dessert menu offers five or six desserts (averaging around $6) and includes a few sorbets. Mike and I decided to split the Meyer lemon tart and some other dessert whose name I can't remember but which consisted of a ball of chocolate ice cream underneath a hard chocolate cell. I really liked the lemon tart, it came with a small ball of what seemed like very lightly tasting sorbet that complemented it quite well. I'd certainly order it again. I wasn't as fond of the chocolate thingy; it was good but nothing too special. Then again, I haven't been really into chocolate lately.
All in all we had a pleasant dinner, we'd probably go there again if the occasion came up but we don't think the food was good enough to justify a special trip there.
Dinner came to about $52 before the tip.
2826 Telegraph Ave