Tag Archives: Alameda

Trabocco is the perfect place for a girl’s night out

Review of the Alameda restaurant

Last night, my friends Eddie and Aamani took me out to Trabocco to celebrate my fifty-something birthday. I had gone a couple of times before but not since the pandemic, and it was a great experience. The food was good, the service was exceptional, the atmosphere convivial and the overall experience felt as COVID-safe as any dining experience can be. In all, it was the perfect place for a girls night out.

Trabocco is the creation of Italian chef Giuseppe Naccarelli and it offers a menu of pretty traditional Italian (as opposed to Italian-American) dishes, with several salad, pizza and pasta choices in addition to a few main dishes. There is a strong emphasis on the quality of the ingredients and the flavors – at least the ones I experienced – seemed very authentic.

The restaurant has a large dining room with an open kitchen and convivial bar. It offers the casual Even before the pandemic it offered outdoor sitting but it has now expanded it to a larger area with a canvass roof but semi-open sides. Our table was next to one of these sides, and there was a nice, if slight, breeze (which also meant it got a bit chilly, so I was happy I’d brought a cardigan). Perfect for pandemic dining.

One of the thing that makes Trabocco a good place for a girls night out is its selection of cocktails – mostly traditional American ones with a small twist. I had the kaffir lime cosmopolitan (which just substituted kaffir lime juice for regular lime juice, a great idea), and it was quite good. Eddie had the Milano Mule and found it delicious. Aamani was driving so she skipped cocktails.

The meal started with slices of rustic bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I was impressed the waiter asked whether we wanted the vinegar added to the olive oil and then offered pepper on top. A small detail, but made the experience nicer.

We then shared a plate of burrata con prosciutto, which came with some sort of microgreen. It had three big slices of prosciutto, which made it perfect for three to share (though I wonder if they’d given us four smaller slices if we were four) and a large round of very fresh tasting but surprisingly firm burrata. It came with breadsticks but the burrata was actually solid enough that you could pick it up with a fork. I enjoyed it very much, in particularly mixed with the microgreen in question. The prosciutto was delicious.

For my main dish, I had the ravioli con coda , “house-made pasta stuffed with braised oxtail, au jus, pecorino pepato”. The plate was satisfying and tasted utterly authentic. It tasted exactly as I’d expect it to, which was a bit disappointing – as I’m always searching for new flavors – but on the other hand very comforting. I’d order it again when in need of a hug in a plate.

Eddie had the grilled salmon (which, along with a Mediterranean bass and some other fish were the catch of the day), which came with sautéed spinach and arugula salad. She thought the salmon was perfectly cooked and the sides were delicious. Aamani had the risotto, but unfortunately I don’t recall what she thought of it.

For dessert, I opted for the zabaglione with berries. It was, once again, exactly as advertised – a competent zabaglione with fresh berries mixed in. Eddie was disappointed that her affogato had very little ice cream, but she enjoyed the flavor nonetheless. Aamani liked her panna cotta.

The highlight of the evening, however, was the service. Our waiter, who grew up in Italy and had a wonderful Italian accent, was friendly, helpful and efficient. He and other waiters wore well-fitted stylish masks, which as a COVID-phobe I appreciated for their health as much as mine. My dessert was served in a plate with “Happy Birthday” written on it and a candle. The chef and the waiter joined my friends in signing me Happy Birthday, which was nicer and less embarrassing than I had feared when I saw them doing the same to another birthday girl in a nearby table. To top it off, they didn’t charge us for my desert because it was my birthday!

We stayed in the restaurant late, until there were very few guests left, and they didn’t rush us out at all.

In all, it couldn’t have been a nicer birthday dinner.

2213 South Shore Center 
Alameda, California 
Su, T-Th 11:30am – 8:30pm, F-Sa 11:30am – 9:30pm

Habanas Cuban Cuisine – Review – Alameda

My friend Mauro recommended Habanas Cuban Cuisine as a good place to go for drinks with my girlfriends. He’d been there for a work function and had really enjoyed the mojitos – they have a wide variety. I figured it was worth a try.
We went there last Saturday night, as an early girls-only St. Valentine’s day celebration, and were very impressed both by the food and the drinks. It’s moderately priced and I would definitely go back.
The restaurant itself is not very impressive. The narrow rectangle dining room has white walls decorated by immense photographs of Cuba life scenes. The photographs are very pretty, but it was hard to see more than one from our table. In all, I thought the place lacked ambiance.
The menu is somewhat limited and features small plates and entrees. We were there mostly for drinks, so we only explored the tapas menu. We loved almost everything we got.
We started with an arugula salad, nicely dressed with in a walnut vinaigrette and topped with shaved Manchego cheese and some type of roasted seed. We got a large portion, which was good for 3 people. We all really enjoyed it – the contrast between the bitter leafs and the salty cheese was very nice.
I ordered the Mixed Grill, which consisted in two smallish skewers each with a chunk of marinated skirt steak, chorizo and pork tenderloin. It came with a chili mango sauce and sofrito rice. The steak and chorizo were both very nice, with strong flavors. The pork tenderloin was less so, but that’s pork for you. The rice was stupendous, specially eaten together with the sauce. I’d definitely order it again.
Aamani ordered the scallops, served with a ginger citrus sauce. We all enjoyed them, though I wouldn’t say they were particularly special.
Paz had the grilled shrimp which came with a cilantro-lime sauce. The portion was quite generous and the sauce was wonderful, even I enjoyed it. I think the shrimp came with rice.
Finally, we all shared a large plate of garlic fries, served with a sweet guava chipotle sauce and a chimichurri aioli. The fries were thin, crisp and had just the right amount of garlic. The sauces were also delicious, neither was spicy but they complimented the fries very well. Indeed, the fries were so good that I couldn’t help eating them with bread.
The bread, by the way, was also very good. It was fresh and reminded me of the bread back home.
As to the mojitos, we all enjoyed them. I had the pineapple one and was happy that it wasn’t too sweet or too sour – it didn’t taste much of pineapple, but it was good.
The service was efficient and friendly, the waitress warned me about an unpopular strawberry mojito, glasses were refilled frequently and plates removed quickly.
In all, I had a wonderful experience which I hope to repeat some time.
Habanas Cuban Cuisine
1518 Park Street
Alameda CA
Marga’s Restaurant Reviews