In early February, Lungomare opened its doors on the waterfront in Jack London Square. The owner is Chris Pastena of Chop Bar fame, as well as the forthcoming Tribune Tavern and a yet-to-be-named high-end Mexican project, seems poised to take Oakland by storm with his cross-regional culinary empire. Chef Craig DiFonzo (of the late Cantinetta Piero) started slinging northern Italian classics like squid-ink chitarra and Ligurian fish stew to hungry patrons last month, and now The Early Word is on the scene to find out what people are loving (and hating).
The Food News: Chowhound daveena "was really impressed" buy her meal, summing it up by saying "all seafood were sweet and pristine. Land animals were cooked well too. Salt levels were perfect. Pasta textures were great" and "eight out of eight dishes were good to stellar." Fellow Chowhound hungree "really enjoyed the house-smoked rainbow trout with caviar crudo," but "found there to be a ridiculous amount of olive oil on every plate." Bay Area Bites' Jenny Ohalso dug the crudo, calling her fluke "by far the most flavorful course we sampled...[it] shone on the merits of its tasty ingredients." She was less impressed by the "too salty" pizza, but still thought the "light and airy crust was cooked to perfection"; her porchetta entree, however, was "slightly dry" and "underwhelming in flavor." Over on Yelp, Carlos R. disagrees, saying the porchetta was "full of flavor and perfectly cooked." Some Yelpers like the pizza here better than at neighboring newcomer Forge - Vanessa S. "enjoyed the pizza here better" and Carlos R. says "the ingredients tasted fresher" - while others found the pizzas lacking: LL T.'s was "okay but nothing special" and Jasmine W.'s was "cold and soggy." [Chowhound, Bay Area Bites, Yelp]
The Drink News: George C. yelps that Lungomare boasts an "excellent wine list, especially if you are into Italian wines." Fellow Yelper Chow L. loves "that they have housemade sodas on the menu with a suggested liquor addition," and Carlos L. reports that " all their mixed drinks were fantastic." However, Chowhound daveena says "the cocktails were sweet for my taste." Bay Area Bites' Oh was also unimpressed by the drinks, finding the Italian 75 to be "a rather unmemorable cocktail that was neither sweet nor dry, and tasted only faintly of lemoncello" and deeming her Italian Job "muddled and overpowering." [Yelp, Chowhound, Bay Area Bites]
The Brunch News: Lungomare recently added weekend brunch to its repertoire, and Yelpers already have a lot to say. Cyotee C. found the "pork hash, eggs and potatoes amazing." Amy H.'s "eggs were cooked to perfection." Linda J.'s poached eggs with pork hash were "yummy," and she says Lungomare is now her "favorite breakfast in Jack London." [Yelp]
The Service News: The service "alternated between attentive and spotty" on Jenny Oh's visit, and Chowhounds reported similar issues: daveena found that "servers never seemed quite sure which dish belonged to whom," and hungree agreed that "they do seem to have issues remembering which plate is for which person at the table." Heidipie, however, was "very happy with the service." Most Yelpers had fewer issues: Greg F. says "the service was great, very friendly, and perfectly attentive," Tristan B. says "service was dead on," and N.T. called the service "best we've had in a long time." [Bay Area Bites, Chowhound, Yelp]
The Atmosphere News: Jeremy R. of Yelp reports: "This place is very multifaceted: It has a great outdoor area for a sunny lunch, the table areas are very fancy and good for a date, and the bar area is good for watching a game and having pizza." John T. agrees, yelping "you can eat inside, outside, at the bar, in the lounge, in the dining room - there are many choices." And Chowhound heidipie notes that "the heat lamps can really crank it out, which makes sitting outdoors a pleasure, even after the sun goes down." Jenny Oh wasn't blown away by the decor, though, which has the "generic, rather bland ambiance that one would expect to find in a hotel restaurant." [Yelp, Chowhound, Bay Area Bites]