Classic Italian Cuisine with California influences

By Carol & Joe Davis
Dining Detectives

It is hard to believe that Italian Colors Ristorante has been open in the Montclair hills of Oakland since 1993. We have dined there many times and enjoyed their Italian cuisine.

Executive Chef/Owner Alan Carlson who is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York has continued to create new Italian menu items that reflect the changing tastes of his loyal customers. We sat on the mezzanine level in the dining room and started our dinner with some of their Specialty Cocktails. The Colors Cosmo which is made with vodka, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, frambois, and a Prosecco float served up with a twist was so tasty we had a second one! The Colors Margarita made with Sauza Hornitos reposado tequila, cointreau, Amaretto, fresh lime and orange juice was also worthy of a second.

As we perused the menu, we enjoyed listening to the classical guitar music played by Michael Wollenberg. The homemade Focaccia was soon delivered to our table and we enjoyed this bread because they have a special recipe which makes it slightly sweet

The Primi Piatti starters were all excellent. We loved the Gnocchi Bolognese which is made with slow braised beef, pork, porcini mushrooms, onions, carrots, tomato, herbs and cream. We also enjoyed the Sweet Corn, Crab and Prawn Chowder which had a wonderful consistency and great flavor.

Next, we tried the Dungeness Crab Antipasti which was a lovely presentation, tasty and light and included papaya, avocado, English cucumber, red bell pepper, scallions, mixed greens and chili lime vinaigrette. The Pizza Napolitana made with tomato sauce, fresh buffalo mozzarella and basil was sweet and light and had an excellent thin cheesy crust. Our entrees were both fabulous.

The Fresh Red Abalone Dore made with lemon caper butter sauce with house made lemon ricotta ravioli was very special. In fact, it was one of the most amazing dishes we have enjoyed in years. The Grilled Angus Rib Eye Steak was charcoal grilled which made it very flavorful and juicy. It was served with garlic mashed potatoes, veggies and red wine demi glace and was better than most Rib Eye's we have had at "Steak Houses".

The wine list has reasonably priced selections. We enjoyed the 2008 Pio Cesare Cortese Di Gavi (Alba), the 2008 Mantanzas Creek Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc and the 2005 Watts Old Vine Zinfandel.

Make sure you save room for dessert. We loved both the Sour Dough Belgian Waffle with fresh berries and vanilla ice cream which was light and lovely and the Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with vanilla bean ice cream which was tart and tasty. Italian Colors Ristorante has both indoor and outdoor dining and is a worthy destination for excellent Italian cuisine.

Italian Colors Ristorante
2220 Mountain Blvd.
Montclair Village Square
Oakland, CA. 94611


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