Bellotti - Rockridge


#1

I had lunch here in April 2016, not long after they opened, but haven’t been back because except for the fantastic casoncelli the food seemed sort of Frenchified and fussy. That certainly isn’t the case any more.

Got there Thursday night at 9:00. The place was completely full and we had to wait for one of the tables of campers to decide to leave. While we were waiting, I heard the hostess tell a couple of walk-ins that she might be able to seat them in 45 minutes, so good thing we had a reservation.

Medium-size antipasto, “Mixed antipasto platter, imported Prosciutto crudo, salamino calabrese, salame toscano, two milk Robiola, Gorgonzola, fruits, honey, crostini, nuts” ($16). How generous is that? And we’d already taken a couple of pieces. Everything was excellent except the Robiola was over the hill.

Tortino, “Organic spinach flan with runny egg yolk center, Grana Padano D.O.P. sauce, sauteed spinach, brown butter, Alba black truffle” ($15.75) wasn’t the usual unmolded flan-like thing but a soft custard. It was a much bigger serving than it looks like in the photo.

Agnolotti di Lydia, “Traditional Piedmontese style stuffed pasta with beef shank, flat iron, pork loin, sausage, escarole, spinach, parmigiano, beef reduction” ($14.95): I got this to try something different. Great dish but I was jealous of my dining companion’s

casoncelli, “My Mom’s lombardian-style stuffed pasta with beef, prosciutto, pork shoulder, imported smoked pancetta, sage brown butter” $15.75. Looking forward to gettting more than one bite of this soon.

Angela’s tiramisu ($7): this version has whipped cream, booze, and coffee. Really good, though I prefer the version with mostly Galbani or similar mascarpone and marsala. Generous portion, plenty for two.

The wine list is also much improved. We drank a delicious Manicor “Keltersee Keil” Schiava ($49), atypically for that grape light and fruity, not high acid or much tannin.

The next night we went to the Barrel Room for the first time in a while, not knowing that they had scaled back the food menu. We weren’t really in the mood for what they had. The server suggested Belotti, saying that it usually quieted down by 10:00 (they’re open until 11:00 on Friday and Saturday), so we ended up there again.

Vitello tonnato, “Slow roasted certified Piedmontese veal eye of round, sicilian tuna sauce, capers essence, lemon zests” ($14.50), didn’t think to take a photo until we’d taken half. This was kind of eccentric since the tuna was a thick spread rather than a sauce. Great flavors. This combination would make a killer panino.

Tortelli di polenta, “Egg pasta stuffed with polenta taragna, rabbit sugo, thyme, grana Padano” $16.75: stuffing pasta with polenta sounded crazy, but really the filling is mostly butter, and the polenta keeps it from squirting out. Great, great dish, as good as the casoncelli.

My dining companion’s brasato, “5-hour braised flat iron, Italian organic polenta, organic hen of woods mushrooms, nebbiolo reduction” ($27.75), well, I prefer my own version of this dish, but this delicious, as good as I’ve had in a restaurant. The chef is from Bergamo and this is a canonical part of their cuisine.

Broccoli picante ($7) with toasted bechamel and some kind of cheese (this isn’t on the online menu), great dish and an excellent value.

Coconut sortbet made to order with a PacoJet ($6.50), great texture and flavor. I think it was just coconut and a little sugar.

Drank a delicious Italian Pinot Nero ($59) the server recommended, I forget what it was and it’s not on the list on the web site.

Belloti’s definitely in the top tier of East Bay Italian restaurants. Overall I was impressed by the value, the prices are modest for the quality, labor required, and ample portions.


#2

Went for a very late Sunday brunch / dinner. At 4:00 it was fairly empty but they were seating walk-ins only at the bar, which was fair since halfway through our meal every table was full. You want a peak-time table, reserve 3-4 weeks ahead.

The bar would be more comfortable if they raised the foot rail so it was as far from the top of the stools as the chairs are from the floor.

All repeats: Niedrist Pinot Nero (the bartender said it’s the chef’s favorite), “medium” antipasto, two orders of casoncelli, and tiramisu, great meal. Also had a couple of obscure amari, San Costanzo and Del Lago Maggiore, both new to me and tasty.


#3

I had an early dinner last night and everything was fantastic. We had the Battuta, silky smooth and delicious, my 10 years old’s first steak tartare and she devoured it. Agnolotti and Casoncelli were both pretty rich, I could not decide which I liked better so good to get both. We also had the broccoli picante and tiramisu, nice mescal cocktail and glass of Barolo. Just under $100 pre tip, very reasonable. The by the glass mark ups seemed a little high so next time I’d get a bottle or bring a bottle ($20 corkage). The broccoli has so much bechamel and prosciutto in it that it is barely a vegetable dish, but very good and good size to split for just $7. I don’t imagine the prices will stay at their current level for long. Can’t wait to go back and try more of the pastas.


#4

We’ve probably gone to Belotti seven or eight times over the last two years. The Agnolotti and the Tagliatelle w/boar ragu are our favs. A recent Bigoli w/duck sugo was phenomenal in an area full of too many overrated confit dishes.

Note that chef Michele has dropped brunch. He said it was too time-consuming and stressful, with most diners picking the regular menu anyway. They are now closed on Sunday:

Belotti Ristorante on Piedmont Ave.
Monday-Thursday : 1130 am - 10 pm
Friday : 1130 am - 11 pm
Saturday: 11 am - 11 pm
Sunday : closed


#5

Ha, that’s so Italian, responding to success by cutting back your hours.


#6

Really? It must be a real ethos thing. Felix Trattoria in Venice, CA did the same thing and I always wondered why!


#7

If they do really well, they’ll close for a month in summer.