SPLASHPAD NEWSLETTER — GRAND AVENUE, WEST OF 580 – May 2014
Hello, Neighbors! Watch this space for monthly news and notes about tasty gems, handy services, art, and changes on Grand Ave., west of 580. – LZ.
Barlago Italian Kitchen
After a few private parties, Barlago Italian Kitchen quietly opened on April 24, 2014 at 550 Grand Ave. (former site of Zza’s) and the neighborhood immediately flocked to Philip Raskin’s second Oakland restaurant. Mr. Raskin’s other restaurant is Filippo’s in Rockridge. How do they compare? Barlago is a bit more upscale than Filippo’s and the décor and the vibe at Barlago is more adult. Their Italian menus differ and Barlago has a full bar serving Italian-inspired cocktails, beer and wine.
The restaurant’s name combines two Italian word, lago, meaning lake, and bar, meaning . . .well, bar, but more in the Italian style than the American style. Some bars in Italy are beautifully decorated and going inside is a pleasure. Barlago compares well. Mr. Raskin tore everything out of Zza’s and replaced it with beauty: dark wood in the interior, green and blue backlighting at the bar inside, a large central orb with red lights, hanging lights, and tiny candles at each table and along the bar seating that rims the patio.
In Italy, the bar is a place to socialize, not just a place to consume large amounts of alcohol or watch a sport on television. Mr. Raskin built Barlago for the neighborhood. He wants Barlago to be a neighborhood place that people visit several times a week to enjoy a beer, appetizer or cocktail before dinner, and maybe stay for dinner. . . and there is a large television on the wall near the bar that shows sports in the evening. Opening and operating restaurants is challenging work, but Mr. Raskin thrives on the daily variety of guests in his “living room” enjoying themselves.
A bar in Italy is often a place for breakfast including morning pastries and coffee, or lunchtime sandwiches (panini), and ice cream (gelato). There is no gelato on the menu yet, but the bread pudding is delicious. So far, Barlago is only open for dinner, but hopes to expand to include lunch and service every day. Want to join the team? Barlago is hiring!
At Barlago, you won’t automatically receive a basket of bread, but it is available upon request. I don’t recall if that is the tradition in Italy. Maybe Mr. Raskin is just helping us all watch our carb intake (or save room for his specials). Italian bars in larger cities often charge more to sit at a table than to stand at the bar, and even more to sit outside. Barlago plans none of that, so come enjoy “Oakland on the Riviera.”
Barlago Italian Kitchen
550 Grand Ave.
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