It’d been a while (5 years to be exact) since I’d been to Donato Enoteca. I had always wanted to go back but for various reasons we never had a chance to. The birthday girl wanted pasta. I recalled Donato had solid pasta. In addition I was curious how Donato Enoteca was doing since their recent expansion in Oakland with Donato & Co. So we paid them a visit.
In short, both my wife and I thought the dishes we ordered at Donato Enoteca before showcased more delicate cooking skills. Not sure if its because of what we ordered (most were the server’s recommendations), but this time the meal was a little disappointing, versus five years ago.
Polpette di agnello- lamb meatball with provolone cheese baked with a spicy tomato sauce and bread. I thought the tomato sauce was good. Well balanced with a little tartness and a little heat. The lamb meatballs were ok, but a little on the tough side. Overall I liked the dish.
Biggoli e coda- bigoli pasta with oxtail braised in Nebbiolo plus asparagus. The bigoli was soft and a bit overcooked. Preferred it to be a bit more chewy. The oxtail was very salty, to the point where the salt hid the plausibly fine oxtail pieces and flavors. Couldn’t tell as my palate was shot by the salt.
Carbonara- I liked this slightly better than the Napoletana Pizzeria version, with the major caveat that Napoletana’s pasta was made from dried pasta and obviously their focus was on pizzas. The carbonara here was rich, but perhaps a tad less so than NP’s. The guanciale here was a bit more mellow, whereas NP’s was super salty. My wife, however, liked NP’s version better. (We had NP’s version the day before, I think.)
Involtino de platessa e verdurine. The problem of this dish was that the flounder tasted like the freezer/ fridge- not that fresh. I guess the flavors would otherwise have been solid but the fridge taste was distracting.
Some time ago they switched from white table cloth to something more casual, with some Tahiti wicker style chair now. The price also seemed to have stayed fairly flat from five years ago. Perhaps that’s their way to go more downmarket.
Anybody been recently? How are their other dishes? I hope my experience is an isolated one since I had been quite fond of them.