Tuesday, April 28, 2009


i've heard a lot of good things about dopo and it's even on the 100 best restaurants list.  since i also heard it can get busy, i called the restaurant before we left the house.  i found out they don't take reservations for groups smaller than 5 people, but they said they could seat us now.  we got there around 8:30 and noticed all of the tables were full.  there wasn't an obvious host station so we just kind of stood their awkwardly for a few minutes until someone came to talk to us.  

the host said we could wait for 30 minutes for a table in the dining room....or.....there's outdoor seating around the corner.  it was kind of chilly but he said it's tented and heated and there are blankets so we could tuck ourselves in.  we were skeptical about this "outdoor seating" but we followed him to this little sidewalk right next to the restaurant.  our table was actually pushed up next to the outside wall and there were little blankets, folded and draped over the back of the chairs.  the host said some people like to eat out there because it's a lot quieter.  our hunger is what made us sit down at the table in the little alley.  we were kind of chilly out there, and the blanket was small so it only covered my lap. 

the double-sided wine list was organized geographically, not by type of wine like usual.  on one side of the list, names of red wines were arranged around a map of italy; white wines were on the other side.  since they were all italian wines, i didn't recognize some of the names but the server was very helpful.  he asked me what kind of wine i like...full-bodied whites...and he gave me a couple suggestions and described each one.  i forgot what it was called, but it sure was full and crisp!

after the server took our drink orders, the host came back to check to see if we had any questions about the menu.  i asked him what ciccioli is and he proceeded to give us a VERY detailed description.  he said it's pork, slow-cooked with thyme until it's spreadable....like a pork butter.  he went on to explain how the french's version is chunkier and how they make it in house and how good it is and a few more details.  as he walked away, my quotable friend looked at me and said 

"you had me at pork butter." 

at first, the ciccioli reminded us of tuna.  but once we slathered enough on bread, the flavors began to sing: definitely pork, olive oil, salt and pepper.  

we ate the "salad of north carolina white shrimp ceci beans and trapani pesto" next.  it was brown and pretty unattractive.  my first bite was tangy and rich.  the slice of lemon on side was begging to be included.  bite #2 was even better than the first due to the extra acidity.

although the "fusilli with hoffman farm hen" was rich and buttery and cheesy, it wasn't very special.  my girl said she felt she's had that meal at somebody's house before.

the eden farm bone-in pork chop was huge.  i like more seasoning on my meat, but it was nicely cooked.  um, i hate to go there, but there's something you should know.  there is an unfortunate detail about the way this dish looked. the red sauce that was poured generously over the chop reminded me of blood, so by the time i finished eating, i felt like a cannibal.  gross, i know, but i had to warn you.

the "carrots, sugar snap peas and mint" was the best dish of the night!  crisp-tender, slightly sweet vegetables, tangy pickled onions.  i didn't taste the mint but i didn't miss it at all.  i secretely cheered when my girl announced she was full, because i proceeded to finish every last morsel on the plate!

when we read the dessert menu, we noticed two important things missing: 1. cake and 2. chocolate. i was trying to figure out what was wrong with these people until the server explained what diplomatico is: chocolate mouse cake with chocolate shavings.  whew!  again, we didn't especially like the way the dish looked, but it was cool and refreshing.  be careful though, i think there was more espresso than chocolate.  the picture above is from italy in sf, who wasn't impressed with the dessert.  what do you think about the presentation?

the day after our dinner, i read that dopo is supposedly well known for their amazing pizza.  oops.  oh well, i'll put that on the list for next time.

if you go...
-be ready to wait or ask for 2 blankets.
-ask the host to describe the ciccioli.
-ask the server to help you choose a wine.
-order the carrots if they're on the menu.
-try not to look at the food before you take a bite.
-order a pizza.

4293 piedmont ave
(510) 652-3676

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