Recently, Richard and I were in the East Bay area for a family wedding and stayed w/ my cousin Linda and her husband John. But, before returning to LA, they took us out to one of their favorite neighbhood restaurants.
Only four years old, Incontro (translation: encounter) has a cozy old-world charm. The main dining room has dark wood wainscoting, butter yellow walls and large mirrors w/ dark wood frames that opens up the room and allows the iron chandeliers w/ candlelit globes to give off a warm glow. There's also an enclosed terrace w/ a frosted etched glass window wall topped w/ a striped canopy. We sat in a comfortable little alcove off the main dining room.
With food from the Northern Italian region of Piemonte and Southern Italian region of Pugia on the Adriatic w/ a little bit of Tuscany thrown in, I was a happy camper (although I did wonder what part of Italy wasn't represented). I love Italian food - no matter what region it comes from.
After ordering a lovely 2008 bottle of Madego Lacappuccina Veneto (a cab/merlot/cab-franc blend), we studied the menu.
We started w/ three antipasti: Guazzetto Mediterraneo (sauteed Mediterranean mussels & manila clams w/ a garlic crostini in a spicy tomato broth); Prosciutto & Mozzaella di Bufala (imported Parma prosciutto & fresh Buffalo mozzarella, w/ marinated roasted peppers on a bed of arugula; and Insalata Rivera (arugula & yellow corn salad w/ shaved parmigiano reggiano & a lemon vinaigrette). Infused w/ local fresh produce and freshly baked bread (baked daily on the premises), all three appetizers were delicious.
For our entrees, the guys ordered the special Orata Al Rosmarino E Limone (pan roasted filet of Mediterranean sea bream w/ rosemary, fennel & lemon sauce). I had a bite and it was 'perfecto.'
Us girls ordered the Vitello Alla Modenese (sauteed veal scaloppine topped w/ Parma ham, aged asiago in a vin santo sauce)... I'd been in a veal frame of mind ever since I saw the dish on the menu and my mind kept whispering 'bellisimo' after every bite.
Like the bread, all the desserts at Incontro are made there daily by hand. We had to try a couple. The tira misu was excellent - but the eggless Italian vanilla custard w/ imported wild cherries sung like a beautiful aria from a Puccini opera. Yeh, it was that good.
So, if you're ever 'in the neighborhood' have a close encounter with Incontro. You won't be disappointed.
2065 San Ramon Valley Blvd.
San Ramon CA 94583