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Bauer Digs Marzano; Roth Gets Nostalgic at Gaspare's

[Photo: Jeremy Brooks/Flickr]

Bauer filed an update review on Oakland staple Marzano, where he continued to be impressed with the food. The wood-oven-braised chicken all'arrabbiata, "coated in a thick, smokey sauce," continues to be "one of the best dishes," along with the house-baked rigatoni and pizzas like the spicy house-made fennel sausage. Straus soft-serve ice cream and buttermilk panna cotta round out the restaurant's "soulful," "fresh" offering, and it's easier than ever to find a seat in the "rustic" expanded dining room. 2.5 stars. [Chron]

Meanwhile, Anna Roth was having a different kind of Italian experience at Gaspare's, "the embodiment of a red sauce Italian joint in all its gaudy glory." The spot reminded Roth of "a time before I knew what it meant to be ironic," and the best dishes on the menu "are ones that taste like all the other versions of the dish you've had in the past," like the lasagna and tiramisu. "Skip the appetizers," says Roth, and save room for the "cheesy, caloric" entrees like the veal parmesan. The pizza at Gaspare's "satisfies as a delivery system for cheese, meat, and tomato sauce," and in general, the food is "exactly as good as you'd expect it to be, nothing more and nothing less." But "wine from a straw flask, kitschy surroundings, and unbelievable amounts of cheese feel like amore." [SF Weekly]

Jonathan Kauffman hit up new Divisadero spot La Urbana, which he found "an attention grabber," from the the black walls and "carnival-esque cabinetry" to the "seared snapper with corn foam and huitlacoche purée." Choose the "braised-to-submission" short ribs over the "oily" cactus quesadillas, and don't miss the "airy" chocolate crémeux with a mezcal gélée. "Some pleasures need no translation," and Kauffman deems La Urbana excelente. [Tasting Table]

Cynthia Salaysay tried out the Filipino fare at Pampanguena Cuisine's, where "soap operas, cheerful artificial flowers and walls painted in a hot, creamy palette" reminded her of her old Filipino babysitter. "Anything grilled is good," like the "delicate, mild-flavored" milkfish and "not-too-sweet" grilled chicken, and the lumpia were "savory wonders." The space is "sparse" and "lived in" but Pampanguena Cuisine is "intimate and personal," and Salaysay is a fan. [Examiner]

Luke Tsai went full pozole for this week's review, digging in at generically-named Taco Grill, where you can find "some of the best Mexican food in Oakland." It's "homey enough to please purists" but "wholesome enough to satisfy Slow Food types and the health-conscious," especially with its extensive selection of soups. "In particular, the restaurant specializes in the rich, meaty, hominy-laden soup known as pozole," and Tsai loved the "incredibly rich" red pozole with pork, "packed with hominy and tender (and decently fatty) shoulder meat." Not everything satisfied to the same degree, but the "slow-braised, satisfyingly savory" carnitas and crispy tacos were another top pick. "It's trite to say a restaurant has 'something for everyone,' but as far as casual taquerias go, Taco Grill comes close." [EBX]

· All Week in Reviews [~ ESF ~]

La Urbana

661 Divisadero, San Francisco, CA 94115 415 440 4500 Visit Website

Marzano

4214 Park Blvd., Oakland, CA

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