This Sunday’s Farmhouse Supper: Calabria

Small town of Verbicaro in Calabria, Italy. (photo from Rosetta Constantino of "My Calabria")

Small town of Verbicaro in Calabria, Italy. (photo from Rosetta Constantino of “My Calabria”)

Sunday Farmhouse Supper Menu for February 22, 2015

Pitta (flatbread) with anchovies, capers, and oregano

Orecchiette arrabbiata 

Charcoal-grilled involtini of swordfish with frisée, Cara Cara oranges, and arugula

Dessert: TBD


Prix fixe $40.

Served family-style. For groups of one to twelve. The whole table must order prix fixe menu.

(Please note that wine and gratuity are not included.)

call 510-547-5356 or reserve online

Larger parties: please let us know at the time of your reservation if your table will be ordering the Sunday Supper menu so that we can plan accordingly. Thanks!

By |February 20th, 2015|2015, Events, Happened already..., This Just In|0 Comments

Announcing Oliveto Commons

Join us as we launch Oliveto Commons with a presentation by Gary Nabhan

Photo: Dennis Moroney

“Conservation You Can Taste: How Heritage Grains, Beans, & Fruit Revivals Have Helped Rebuild Local Food Economies”

Sunday March 1
1–3 p.m.

Gary Nabhan is a recipient of a MacArthur Genius Award for his role in both the heirloom seed and local food movements. The author of 26 books, he is an orchard keeper, seed saver, pollinator, habitat restoration ecologist, and Ecumenical Franciscan Brother. His efforts with the Renewing America’s Food Traditions Alliance brought back dozens of fruits, vegetables, livestock breeds and seeds from the verge of extinction.

To honor Gary’s important contribution to sustainable food and agriculture, our Sunday Supper menu for that evening will feature spices and ingredients from Gary’s books. Stay for dinner to complete the experience.

Both of Gary’s books will be available for purchase at the event.

This event is the launchpad for our newest venture: Oliveto Commons, a series of community programs with the mission of inspiring a shared sense of possibility, purpose, and unity throughout Oliveto and the community to which we belong. You can learn more about the Commons and see a calendar of upcoming events here.


Eventbrite - Oliveto Commons Presents Gary Nabhan


By |February 19th, 2015|2015, Events, Happened already..., Kitchen Notes, This Just In|2 Comments

Oliveto Commons

We are very excited to announce Oliveto Commons, a series of lectures, classes, workshops, and discussions designed to to better engage with the neighborhood and offer a venue for a connected community. Driving our decision to launch the Commons is our 40-year interest and involvement in agricultural practices, and the desire to open up and make available our public space, with its outstanding new acoustical capabilities, for discussions on food and food-production subjects and activities in our community. We also want to offer a platform for agriculture-centered, pro-environment action for committed and interested parties, such as local farmers, urban gardeners, scientists, and activists.

We are driven by an ingrained curiosity and drive for continual innovation and improvement, and the Commons will be an effective way to better participate in the community and offer vibrant, inclusive, and real food experiences. A fully functional restaurant should offer more than just extraordinary food: it should offer a setting that is about connecting and all that that means.

Kicking off the Commons on March 1st will be Conservation You Can Taste: How Heritage Grains, Beans & Fruit Revivals Have Helped Rebuild Local Food Economies with Gary Nabhan, recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award for his role in the heirloom seed and local food movements.

Future programs this spring and summer will include conversations with, and films about, important and thoughtful leaders in food, agriculture, and the environment. An ongoing discussion of how agriculture, soils practices, and how what we grow in our gardens affects our health and the environment will have a central place at the Commons. And, there will be plenty of fun to accompany the good information, participation, and food.

The Commons will feature programming in six distinct areas: It’s Complicated, a series of conversations about eating, cooking, and the politics of food, the first of which will be our event on March 1st; Wine & Spirits, designed to explore and educate guests about the world of wine and cocktails; How-To, skill building classes to offer home cooks culinary tips and tricks by the talented team at Oliveto and guest chefs; Oliveto Live, a series of musical and other live performances that fully utilize the acoustical capabilities of the Meyer Sound system; and Personal Story, a way for farmers, producers, and food luminaries to share the stories and inspirations behind their life’s work.

Oliveto Commons Spring Events:

Conservation You Can Taste: How Heritage Grains, Beans & Fruit Revivals Have Helped Rebuild Local Food Economies with Gary Nabhan
Sunday, March 1, 1 to 3 p.m.

The author of 26 books, Nabhan is an orchard keeper, seed saver, pollinator, habitat restoration ecologist and Ecumenical Franciscan Brother. His efforts with the Renewing America’s Food Traditions Alliance brought back dozens of fruits, vegetables, livestock breeds and seeds on the verge of extinction.

$15 tickets are available on Eventbrite.

Books available for purchase separately. Optional Sunday Supper Prix Fixe menu featuring native ingredients highlighted in Nabhan’s book will be available following the discussion for $40 per person


Front Porch Farms at Whole Hog Dinners
Wednesday, March 4, 5 to 9 p.m.

Oliveto will host the farmers from Front Porch Farms on the second night of their annual Whole Hog Dinners event (March 3 to March 7). Front Porch Farms is the first American farm to raise the 700-year-old Tuscan Cinta Sinese breed of pig and forest-feed it, using old and new methods of animal husbandry, to produce a pig whose intricate flavor and fat content make it ideal for salumi making. Reserve a table for this beautiful feast and celebration of The Pig, and hear the intriguing story of how Front Porch brought the Cinta here and what they learned about breeding and raising heritage animals using traditional methods. Oliveto’s friends from Front Porch will circulate throughout the dining room as dinner progresses. (Menu prices vary)


Aged Wine Tasting
Wednesday, March 25, 6:15 to 7 p.m.

Four rare wines from Oliveto’s one-of-a-kind aged wine program, comprised primarily of notable vintages of Barbaresco, and Barolo will be available to sample in a tasting led by Oliveto General Manager Shane Walker. A select bottle of aged wine will be available for purchase at wholesale price if participants choose to dine following the tasting.

In the Siena room. $30 tickets available on Eventbrite.


Knife Skills 101
Sunday, April 19, 1 to 2:30 p.m.

What knives you should keep in your home kitchen, what they are best for and how do you maintain them? Chef Jonah Rhodehamel will lead a class to answer these questions. Participants should bring their own knives for a sharpening and learn how to do it at home. They’ll also use their knives during the section on knife skills. ($20 per person)

Tickets are available on Eventbrite.


Maria Speck, author of Simply Ancient Grains
Saturday, May 30th, 1 to 3 p.m.

In Simply Ancient Grains, cooking with black rice, red quinoa, and golden Kamut berries is made easy and accessible by veteran award-winning food writer and journalist Maria Speck. Maria’s first cookbook, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, won multiple awards, among them the coveted Julia Child Award, and was named a top cookbook by both The New York Times and the Washington Post.

Maria will be discussing her book and the varied and intriguing world of ancient grains. A book signing will follow. (Free)

Tickets are available on Eventbrite.


Stephen Yafa, author of Grain of Truth, with Craig Ponsford of Ponsford’s Place
Saturday, June 6th, 1 to 3 p.m.

In his latest book, Grain of Truth, investigative journalist and award-winning screenwriter Stephen Yafa gives us back our daily bread. At a time when gluten is being denounced as the new asbestos, he sets out to separate truth from fiction. He discovers scientific evidence that mass-production processing methods and monoculture are the culprit, not the inherent genetic make-up of wheat itself. But there’s much more to the story. Artisan whole wheat impresarios like Craig Ponsford form an expanding national movement made up of young, enthusiastic stone-ground millers, growers and renegade bakers who are re-introducing strains of wheat with distinct flavorful personalities and proven health benefits. Their baked goods are probiotic; they break down bulky gluten molecules, provide vital nutrition and fiber, and above all, they’re delicious. But don’t take our word for it. Craig will provide ample samples of the masterworks that he bakes at Ponsford’s Place in San Rafael and talk about why he converted from white to 100 percent whole wheat flour. In addition, Yafa lets us in on a discovery that may change your life — there is in fact a perfect solution for non-celiac gluten-sensitive bread lovers, after all.

 Copies of the book will be available; a book signing and sample tasting will follow. (Free)

Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

All Oliveto Commons events take place in the upstairs restaurant. We’ll be posting links to Eventbrite tickets as each event nears. For additional information, call 510 547-5356.

By |February 19th, 2015|2015, Events|0 Comments

Whole Hog Dinners 2015: Featured Menu Items

pig2Each night of our Whole Hog Dinners, we’ll either be hosting a special event or featuring a special menu item. This is, of course, in addition to the usual enormous and delicious menu of salumiantipastiragus, sausages, roasts, and stews that Chef Jonah will prepare. We’ll announce the rest of the menu next week.

On Tuesday March 3, we’ll have a wonderful porchetta (layers of boneless pork middle, fat, skin, rolled in savory, moist, boneless pork meat and spit-roasted over wood).

On Wednesday, we will be hosting Front Porch Farms and highlighting their Cinta Sonoma pigs. If you would like to sit at or near their table, please let us know when you make your reservation.

On Thursday, we’ll serve a saucisson en croute, a lovely French-style pork sausage, wrapped in puff pastry, baked in a terrine and served warm.

On Fridayzampone: The prized Modenese dish of boned pig’s trotter, stuffed with highly seasoned ground pork meat, rind, sinew, and fat, which is then trussed and cooked in broth.

Finally, on Saturday, we’ll have full-out bollito misto (mixed boil) of various cuts of meat and sausages, cooked and served in a rich pork broth and accompanied by multiple herby and full-flavored salsas.

call 510-547-5356 or reserve online

Oliveto’s Sound System is in The New Yorker

Olivetos_30-Oct-14_209576 550

We were thrilled to music critic Alex Ross’s most recent piece in The New Yorker — it is all about Meyer Sound and features our new Constellation and Libra sound systems. He really couldn’t have described the system better:

On a recent visit to Oliveto, a nouvelle Italian restaurant in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland, California, I paid attention less to the food than to the sound. I was at a table of six, in the restaurant’s upstairs section. It was a Friday night, and by the middle of the meal the room was crowded. Conditions were primed for restaurant cacophony: that inexorable crescendo of talking, barking, cackling, and clanking, which threatens to drown out any conversation and prompts diners to shout at one another, adding to the din. On this night, though, I found myself able to tune out the noise and hear only what I wanted to hear. When someone at a nearby table began guffawing at his own jokes, I could still follow the remarks of the calm-voiced man sitting next to me. Friends on the other side of the table spoke across the breadbasket without having to raise their voices. Although we were aware of a general buzz, it all happened at a comfortable distance. It was two hours of acoustical paradise. …

Read the rest of the article on The New Yorker website, or grab a copy of their February 23 issue when it hits newsstands.

Whole Hog Dinners 2015: The Year of the Cinta

Whole Hog Dinners 2015: The Year of the Cinta
March 3–7

Peter & Mimi Buckley of Front Porch Farm Welcoming the Cinta

Peter & Mimi Buckley of Front Porch Farm with their Cinta pigs.

For centuries, the Cinta Senese, the prized breed of Tuscan pig, had never been found outside of the area around Siena. Almost three years ago, Peter and Mimi Buckley managed to import 21 Cintas into California to their Front Porch Farm for the purpose of breeding. Over time, the stock has grown and the feeding protocols have been refined.

We’ve brought Peter and Mimi’s Cintas into the Oliveto kitchen, where we have been curing and roasting the pigs. We’ve been loving the results.

This year, we’ll be able to feature these wonderful pigs throughout our Whole Hog Dinners, scheduled for March 3–7.

Call 510-547-5356 or reserve online.

By |February 10th, 2015|2015, Coming up..., Events, Front Porch Farm, This Just In|0 Comments

The China Box is coming… RESCHEDULED!


NOTE: Due to the rain, we’ve RESCHEDULED this event for TOMORROW, February 11.

We’re going to be cooking up a lot of whole animals this year, starting this Friday with a Red Waddle pig from Heritage Foods. But we won’t be roasting them on a spit or digging a giant pit in the ground of the BART station. We’ve got a much, much better tool, and it’s called La Caja China, or the China Box.

We’ve used our China Box in the past to roast pigs and goats, but this year we’re really going to fire it up with a regular schedule of whole-roasted animals. (After this week, we’ve got events scheduled for February 27, March 20, April 3, May 1, June 5, and July 10.) Why do we love it? The aluminum-lined box cooks whole animals by making use of moist, radiant heat. The pig, goat, or lamb is laid flat and placed in the box. Hot charcoal goes on top. Using the magic of science, the interior of the box builds up even heat and high pressure to cook the animal in 3 hours or so (a veritable millisecond in barbecue land). The meat emerges tender and juicy, with crackling crisp skin and incredible flavor.

The China Box, confusingly, doesn’t come from China. It is a Latin American invention, most frequently associated with Cuban cuisine. Its exact origins are shrouded in mystery. Some claim that the tool was a product of 19th century Chinese laborers in Cuba. However, further research has shown that there weren’t any China boxes around that early and that there was little culinary integration between the two cultures.

More realistically, the “China” moniker follows the Hispanic usage of the word to describe something that is clever or exotic. According to food anthropologist Sidney Mintz, this means that the proper translation of “la caja china” is “the clever box.” We can get behind that name.

Expect to see lots of whole animals on the menu soon.

By |February 3rd, 2015|2015, Events, Happened already..., Kitchen Notes, This Just In|0 Comments

This Just In: Aged Magruder Ranch Strip

meat on grill 600x400

Back near the beginning of December, we took in a delivery of our last treasured Magruder animal of the season. We won’t get more until this summer. But we DO have a New York strip that’s been hanging out (literally) in the meat locker for about 50 days.

The long, slow aging process gives the meat great flavor and tender texture, and the genetics of Mac’s animals are superb. Chef Jonah will be cooking them on the grill for a stand-out entree on Saturday evening.

We only have a limited amount of beef, so we recommend coming in early on Saturday to ensure that you’ll get to try this fantastic cut of meat. We’ll also have our great Piedmont beef rib eye on the menu, so if you miss the NY strip, you won’t suffer.

Call 510-547-5356 or reserve online

By |January 29th, 2015|2015, Events, Happened already..., Magruder Ranch, This Just In|0 Comments

This Just In: Herring

Some of this year's catch. Photo: Monterey Fish Company

Some of this year’s catch. Photo: Monterey Fish Company

Tonight, you can taste this season’s catch on our primi menu — Jonah is preparing cavatelli pasta with herring, Santa Barbara sea urchin, tomato, and hot pepper. As the season progresses, expect to see the fish in salads and cured herring roe in other dishes on the menu.

This is a herring season that almost wasn’t. Up until the middle of last week, we weren’t sure if we see any herring come through the kitchen this year. It wasn’t that there was a lack of fish — the bay has been full of herring since the season started a few weeks ago. No, this year, the problem has been a matter of price.

When we met with Tom Worthington of Monterey Fish Company last week, he explained that the majority of our local herring are exported to Japan, and the high numbers of available fish had driven the price down to exceptionally low levels. We’re talking about a drop from around $3000 a ton to only $200 a ton. That’s a big jump. Because the negotiated price was so low, the local, small-scale herring fishermen simply couldn’t afford to go out and fish. (Herring fishing licenses are shockingly expensive.)

Luckily, the fishermen and the fish buyers were able to make an agreement late last Tuesday night, and we can all agree that the fish they’re catching are pretty wonderful. Chef Jonah tells us that this year’s herring are around 75% larger than last year’s, with beautiful ivory pink flesh. We hope to have herring on the menu throughout the week.

See the full menu.

Call 510-547-5356 or reserve online.

Sunday Supper for January 25, 2015: Emilia-Romagna

emilia romagna 550

Salad of little gems with bagna càuda, lemon juice, and Parmesan
Tagliatelle with wild mushroom ragu
Torta of cauliflower and prosciutto with Piave Vecchio fonduta


Prix fixe $40.

Served family-style. For groups of one to twelve. The whole table must order prix fixe menu.

(Please note that wine and gratuity are not included.)

call 510-547-5356 or reserve online

Larger parties: please let us know at the time of your reservation if your table will be ordering the Sunday Supper menu so that we can plan accordingly. Thanks!

By |January 23rd, 2015|2015, Events, Happened already...|0 Comments