Oakland, California, May 20, 2013—A SHORT HIKE, an hour's drive, an interesting and moving memorial concert, and dinner out with a couple of old friends: a perfect Sunday.
Dinner was at what some review publications call "a neighborhood gem" in an off-center activity spot in the Oakland hills. We'd been there before, shortly after it opened, and I remembered it as having quite a good pizza station.
When we got there, though, a little after six, I was hungry and wanted a meal. We started out sharing a plate of ahi, served raw with slices of delicious dill pickle and radish and little dollops of aïoli, nicely seasoned with a particularly tasty sea-salt.
Alas, the pork shoulder that looked so good on the menu was not available, so I made do with a pork chop "Milanese." That usually means boned, flattened, and breaded, in my experience — what the Austrians call schnitzel. This was an enormous chop on the bone, though; breaded, it's true, and very nicely cooked. It was served atop a warm potato salad, and strewn with pea tenrils and narrow-leaf arugula. (Henceforth I refuse to call such arugula "wild": it's just as farmed as any other.)
Double alas: the spinach promised by the spring menu — "Savoyed," though it sounds more like the Veneto to me , with its pine nuts and golden raisins — was also not available. Well, it's Sunday: the waiter explained the farmers hadn't been able to make their deliveries for some reason. We did okay.
Dessert: a nicely baked chocolate pudding-cake with chocolate Straus ice cream on top. Not bad.
Cortese, Castelvero (Piemonte), 2011: a little bland and disappointing. Negroamaro, Marmorelle (Salento), 2010: nice, interesting.• Marzano, 4214 Park Boulevard, Oakland; (510) 531-4500