Barlago is a rustic Italian restaurant located in Oakland's Adams Point neighborhood, directly across from Lake Merritt. The restaurant's name means "lake" and "bar" in Italian. Inspired by the location's diversity and strong sense of community, Philip Raskin saw the opportunity and couldn't resist opening a neighborhood spot, where people can socialize and enjoy Italian-inspired drinks and bites.
Patrick and I were invited to be guests of the house and had dinner on a Friday at 6 p.m. We selected a nice table near the entrance with a clear view of the lake. On the menu were many classic Italian dishes at very reasonable prices, especially given the huge portion sizes. The dishes are meant to be shared like an Italian family's Sunday dinner.
There are two sections inside - a 50-seat bar and lounge with a community table and a 50-seat dining room. Ian McLean created the engaging, comfortable and lovely open space design, allowing for views of Lake Merritt with an "old Bay Area Barbary Coast meets Venice" aesthetic. There is also sidewalk seating, with heating, for 20 people on bar stools at the counter.
Casino Pizza ($13)
We loved the freshly shucked clams, bacon, chili flakes, oregano, and pecorino pizza combo. It's not on a normal thin crust dough; the crust was like a crispy flatbread. The only disappointment is not enough clams, which I would gladly pay extra for if given the option.
Tomatoes and Burrata ($8)
The tomatoes were naturally sweet and refreshing. The burrata was wonderful, very creamy.
The amount of pasta given for the price offered was almost unbelievable, especially for the area. The tagliatelle is dressed with a traditional sauce of beef, pork, pancetta, san marzano tomatoes, and ricotta salata. I can't assess this dish fairly because I'm not a fan of bolognese, but Patrick loves bolognese and thought it was very delicious.
Carne Brasato ($19)
We enjoyed the tender short ribs cooked in Boont Amber Ale paired with the lovely taste and aroma of porcinis. The entire dish is very rich in flavor, but it personally lacked fat from the short ribs for me. The crispy polenta was nice, whereas the broccolini was a bit under-cooked.
Chocolate Fondant Cake
The chocolate cake was tasty, moist and airy. The cake lacked a creamy richness for me and I thought it needed a bit more chocolate filling. I also preferred a bit more ice cream; when ice cream matches up to the size of a strawberry, it's just not enough.
Barlago is a lovely new addition to the neighborhood. The Italian-inspired cocktails are wonderful. The casino flatbread pizza is a must and if that's not what you want, there's enough variety of options on the small plates menu that could keep anyone happy. I would recommend checking Barlago out for appetizers and drinks, but if you decide to arrive with a big appetite, you will not be disappointed. The food portions are very generous and reasonably priced.
Thanks for dinner, Barlago!
550 Grand Avenue. Oakland, California
- Tuesday - Friday: 11.30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
- Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
- Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.