San Leandro Reviews

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A Caveat

Update 7/05: Strizzis in San Leandro is now closed. Thai Satay has opened in its place.

Though less than 20 years old, and now one of a four-restaurant chain, Strizzis is a San Leandro institution. Its downtown location makes it a convenient place to stop for dinner and its uncomplicated Italian-American cuisine appeals to our older demographic. We had visited Strizzis a few times when we first moved to San Leandro, and had been won over by the friendly service but were unimpressed by the food. Still, restaurants can change, so one Friday night in March 2005, I suggested to Regina and Boris that we head there for dinner.

Strizzis looked the same: safe and boring. Its flowered carpet and muted green and red colors scream "establishment" to me; it made me feel young just to be there. But its lack of style seems fitting for San Leandro, a post-war working-class town which even now seems out of place in the bay area. So does its friendly service - our waitress was nice and obliging; she kept our drinks filled, brought and removed plates promptly, and did not complain when we closed down the restaurant.

The menu didn't seem to have changed much since our last visit, but I didn't remember the prices being that high. I'm always amazed at how expensive San Leandro restaurants are - for the price of a mediocre meal in San Leandro you can usually eat at a good to very good restaurant in Berkeley or Oakland, but I guess the lack of competition and the laziness of the local populace lets them get away with it. Entrees at Strizzis range from $12 to $20, though the entrees do include soup (minestrone or clam chowder) or salad (house or Caesar).

Mike had the clam chowder, which he felt was OK. It had a lot of potatoes and only very small and few bits of clam. Regina ate my minestrone soup and she liked it, even though it had a heavy beef broth and included pieces of ham. It also featured large chunks of vegetables. Boris went for the Caesar salad which he also liked. He's a big Caesar salad eater and on a scale of 1 to 10, he'd give it a 6 1/2.

I didn't cherish the prospect of paying $14 for a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, so I splurged and ordered the $20 New York Steak in a wild mushroom bourbon sauce, which came with a minuscule side of rigatoni bolognese and some green beans. That was probably not a good call; the steak was thin and grainy, and reminded me of the $12 NY steaks you can get at local coffee-shops. The sauce was very good, however, and I did enjoy the rigatoni, though it tasted quite "safe".

"Safe" was the name of the game for the rest of the entrees; they were all good but unimaginative. They reminded me of cruise ship food. Mike ordered the Cajun Chicken Fettuccine ($16), which came with a mild cream sauce spiced up by some peppers. It was good and he liked it, though it's not something he'd crave again. Boris had the day's special, trout ($16), which he liked though he thought it wasn't remarkable. He did go wild over the accompanying grilled peppers. Regina had the Mixed Greens with chicken ($13). It came with a whole breast of chicken, which was nicely grilled. She liked the salad, which was fresh and crunchy and thought it had a good amount of blue cheese, though the dressing was perhaps a tad too heavy.

In all, we were pleased with the food and especially the service, but felt it was overpriced. As conveniently located as Strizzis is, I doubt we'll be returning soon.

1376 East 14th St.
San Leandro, CA