Summary: Good and hearty Italian food at reasonable prices make it the best choice for Italian food around.
I'm not the type who often goes out for Italian food. I like Italian food, especially pasta, but much of it is simple enough that I can make it at home (not that I actually do, but that's another issue). But once in a while, I want Italian and I don't want to cook, and then, much to my chagrin, I find myself with nowhere to go. Alas, there are just no good choices for Italian food anywhere near here. Not every place is as bad as Bancheros, but so far we've been unable to find something beyond mediocre pasta in San Leandro and surrounding cities. So it was with much hope that we headed to Buon Appetito on a Tuesday evening in April 2006.
The small restaurant has a sleek look but it's pretty badly designed. The dining room forms an "L" around the kitchen, with the smaller tables in a very narrow hallway on one side of the kitchen. A half-wall separates you from the bar area, but you still feel kind of cramped and in the way of passing waiters. Next time I'll insist on sitting by the window and see if it's better.
The menu is Italian-American and prices are reasonable ($8 average for appetizers, $10-14 for main entrees). While we'd gone for pasta, we let ourselves be tempted by the meatier offerings on the menu. I went for the Lamb ossobuco ($14) while Mike decided on the petto di pollo a la Modonese, a chicken breast stuffed with sage and fontina, wrapped with prosciutto and sauteed in a balsamic reduction sauce ($12). My ossobuco was pretty good, a little bland but very homey and warm on a cold night. The accompanying polenta was good and I might have wanted a little more. In all a satisfying dish. Mike's chicken, however, was excellent. He liked the chicken, he liked the accouterments and he loved the sauce. He did not, however, like all the tomato on my ossobuco so he didn't share much of his chicken with me. Oh well. At $12, the dish was a bargain.
We weren't impressed by the simple dessert list so we skipped it.
Service was fine, not overly friendly or involved but competent.
In all, we had a good time and we are planning to go back and try the pastas.
917 A Street