C'era Una Volta


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A Caveat

I liked the name of C'era Una Volta - Once upon a time - from the start. The "volta" in the title reminded me of the saying with which my relatives would great each new round of wine at family celebrations "a la prima volta," "to the first round." Life, and wine, starts anew each minute. And I really wanted to like C'era Una Volta. The service was very good, the presentation (especially of the drinks) was great, and the location, next to Amarin Thai, is convenient both to Park Street, with all its new shops, and parking. Though the "patio" seating is just three tables in the alley, the inside room looks casual yet stylish. The food, however (we had brunch in May 2006), was less than inspired, and with several other brunch choices in the area, we won't be rushing back for brunch. I might still give it a try for dinner, however.

For Sunday brunch you have a choice of a three-course prix fixe menu for $20, including coffee, or an a la carte menu with entrees in the $8-10 range. The choices include a number of omelettes as well as more lunch-type of items. Mike decided on the "Pastore" omelette, which came with prosciuto and Parmesan cheese. He felt that the omelette was unremarkable, and the egg had not been particularly well mixed so there were chunks of cooked egg whites. He wouldn't order it again. Regina was also unimpressed by her asparagus omelette. She liked the asparagus, but didn't think the whole thing came together well. I had the Gnocchi alla Toscana, with Gorgonzola sauce, and it tasted pretty much like this dish always tastes. On my last trip to Argentina, I ordered gnocchi with roquefort sauce (Argentina's favorite blue cheese) dozens of times, and this dish was indistinguishable from those. A good, solid dish, but nothing exciting.

All the dishes came with a basic salad of mixed greens with a standard vinaigrette. Again it was fine, but unexciting. The bread that came with brunch was quite good, however, either by itself or dipped in olive oil. For some weird reason, they served the olive oil on top of a mound of mustard which didn't work at all. But if you avoided the mustard, it was quite pleasant.

Regina got a drink, I'm not sure what it was, but she did like it and we all liked how it looked.

C'era Una Volta
Redwood Square
1332 Park Street
Alameda, CA