4214 Park Boulevard (at Glenfield)
Oakland, CA 94602
Open since December, I finally made it to Oakland’s idyllic, tree-lined Glenview neighborhood for Marzano, opened by the team behind Garibaldi’s. While I sighed at yet another Rustic Italian menu, a tapped-out field in my book, expectations began to shift from first look at the medieval wood-beam ceiling and chandeliers, the Edison-era-slash-modern lighting and rustic wood tables.
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Drinks alone are worth a visit, but the food keeps up. Wood-fired in a brick oven means the Pizzas ($11-14) have blistered crusts with toppings and cheeses of such quality and flavor (love the fennel sausage) you’ll be hard pressed not to eat one by yourself, though they’re plenty big enough for two. Breakfast pizzas add an egg on top (yay!)
A Chicories Salad ($10) is fresh and bountiful, satisfying where many salads do not. Laden with fuji apples, page mandarins, toasted umbrian faro, hazelnuts, buttermilk bleu cheese and cider vinagrette, it’s an entree on its own. One of the better sharing appetizers I’ve had in awhile, the Fritto Misto ($10), is a lightly fried helping of veggies: cauliflower, sweet onions, aspargus, fennel and lemon with a spicy aioli. Everyone descends and devours. I have found service to be a bit patchy, I hate to say, though not bad, with the host and bartender graciously engaging.
Paired with a crema-heavy espresso ($3), Straus Organic Soft Serve ($4), topped with rosemary honey, nuts, caramel or, in my case, aged balsamic vinegar and sea salt (an additional $2 for toppings), is a sensual finish. As Italians quip, “A tavola non si invecchia“, or essentially, you don’t age while eating a (great) meal. With good friends and conversation, time stood still within these walls, and if I aged, it was contentedly so.