We love dining in Old Oakland as there are trendy Restaurants and Bars which draw a sophisticated crowd. The historic buildings and classic street lamps create a retro American city atmosphere which adds to the overall ambience. We were craving Italian Cuisine so we wanted to dine at Desco which just recently opened. It is located in a Historic 1876 building and is quite welcoming with its big D shingle above the entrance and 1940’s Italian Café feeling. The décor features 20 foot ceilings, brick walls, rustic wood furnishings and copper topped counter seating. There is a row of cozy booths along the back wall, a large communal or group table and outdoor sidewalk tables in warm weather. There are also large windows on both sides of the restaurant overlooking the sidewalk and the beautiful trees. It was a lovely night and quite a few people were sitting outside but we opted to have a window table inside overlooking the street and the stylish interior.
Desco serves seasonally fresh, ingredient driven regional Italian Cuisine created by Executive Chef Donato Scotti who also owns Donato Enoteca in Redwood City where we have dined many times. He grew up in Italy and attended the Instituto Alberghiero di San Pellegrino Culinary School and now has quite a following in the Bay Area. As we looked at the focused menu we ordered Lauretana Italian Alps Sparkling Water and received fresh made bread with a small dish of fantastic olive tapenade. Caleb, our extremely knowledgeable and friendly server, alerted us that it was still happy hour and with our drink order we would receive the Chef’s Small Bites which was a perfect way to ease into our dinner. We started with a Cosmo from their full bar and the Italian Americano Bianco Aperitivi served on the rocks with seltzer which was unique and quite refreshing.
We ordered Antipasti starters which were very tasty. The Crudo Sashimi Grade Ahi topped with fried capers with Carte Musica crackers was delicious and extremely fresh. The wood burning oven baked Salt Cod Baccala with olives and tomatoes was flavorful and a nice comfort dish. We also loved the Polipetti Crispy Baby Octopus with wild arugula Salad. The Octopus is freshly prepared and slightly warm and perfectly accented by the argugala.
Desco has a Wood Fired Pizza Oven where they make Pizze. They have both traditional and what they call Stretched which is more like Flat Bread. We enjoyed the Rustic style Stretched made with Speck, Smoked Prosciutto, Sweet Onion and light Gorgonzola. It was a great combination of flavors and the crust was great....just delicious. The Main Courses were both hearty portions and very reasonably priced. We loved both the Angus Loin Tagliata with grilled potatoes and aceto balsamico prepared rare as ordered and the Galletto Pan Roasted Spring Chicken with white wine reduction. We also enjoyed a side dish of cous cous style Sardinian Fregola Pasta with olives, garlic and Calabria peppers.
The Wine List is all Italian Varietals chosen by Wine Director Eric Lecours and available by the bottle, carafe or by the glass. We are not as well versed on Italian wines, so we relied on Desco’s very knowledgeable staff to advise us on what would pair with our food. We enjoyed the 2011 Colle Stefano Verdicchio Marche which was lively and fruity with our appetizers and the 2008 Tommaso Bussola Valpolicella Venato which was full bodied and delicious with our main courses.
The Desserts were delightful. We loved both the Vasetto di Crema which was a fabulous Traditional Italian Custard and their classic Italian Affogato with hazelnut Gelato. A Zucca Rabarbaro Digestivi after dinner drink and espressos were the perfect finish to our excellent dinner. We had a great time at Desco which is open for Lunch and Dinner daily. The modern Italian Cuisine was terrific, the service was excellent and the All Italian Wine List gave us a chance to try new wines. We look forward to returning soon.
499 9th St.(at Washington St.)
Oakland, CA. 94607