Trattoria la Siciliana (Berkeley, CA)
I have strolled on College Avenue in Berkeley many-a-time, often passing this mysterious restaurant, which I found never to be open during the day and always bustling at night. I would peer in the windows, curious and wanting to give it a try, but never knowing the occasion. My cousins who lived in the area recommended it to me one day over dinner at another restaurant in Berkeley, and so I decided bring my other cousin and fooding-fiend-partner-in-crime here when she visited.
Price: 15-20 USD pp (not including wine) | $$
Trattoria la Siciliana
Upon arriving, the place reminded me a bit of a scene Love Actually, with string-light lined stairs and a romantic but casual ambience. The restaurant is often packed, and even with a reservation, I've had to wait on some nights, so I would suggest going a bit early to procure a table. This place isn't exactly great for large groups, and doesn't offer great service on busy nights, but it's a nice spot for an early dinner with a friend or two. The food is quite authentic, and they do offer a variety of wines.
Me and my cousin are pretty much pasta|carb monsters when it comes to Italian food, and we're both mycophiles, so we're usually in agreement with what to order on the menu (with mushrooms often dominating our choie). We also love potatoes [I can totally attest to our post-swim binge on baked potatoes with sour cream @ the local Norms], and so we ordered the Gnocchi alla Futamore, which are potato pasta dumplings with pancetta, baby shrimp, and a fresh cream sauce. I also decided to be adventurous and went for the Linguini al Nero di Seppia, which is a pasta in black calamari ink and herbs sauce. On top of that, they gave us free fresh bread with olive oil and herbs- something I never thought to specially appreciate until I came to Brissy- where no bread is free! Or rather, there is no bread that is 'automatically' served at Italian restaurants.
The sauce for the gnocchi and the gnocchi itself was perfect! I didn't think the shrimp were all that fresh, but the pancetta and onion went well together. The linguini tasted quite good, though it was a little over-salted for my taste. Another problem, or issue, is that the sauce makes your lips and your teeth black. Like, all of it. Every crevice. I highly de-suggest this dish for a date, but on other days, it's worth a try!
Trattoria la Siciliana