After theater dining

Some people like to eat dinner early.  They are first in line for the 4:30 early bird specials near Rossmoor. I’m not one of them. Maybe I really am descended from Francisco Pizarro, and want to eat dinner at 9 like a Spaniard.

We decided to go to the theater last night at about 6:30.  I bought the tickets on the phone, but there was no time for dinner.  No problem, we’d go after the show.  Problem: who would be open for dinner that late?

I make dinner reservations at Opentable.com, a website that has direct links to almost all of the good restaurants, both locally and everywhere we travel.  They give me a dollar for each reservation we make, and over the last 9 years that has added up to $250.  Pretty nice to get paid for using a service that I really like.

I asked their system for a 10:45 reservation in the East Bay last night, and was quite surprised to see the number and variety of places open that late.  Chevalier in Lafayette, COA, Maria Maria and Laurus in Danville, Scotts  and 1515 in Walnut Creek, among others.  I’m accustomed to being able to get a full meal at midnight in New York, I’m amazed how late I can get served in the Diablo Valley.

We settled on Marzano, on College Avenue in Oakland.  Arriving, I was confused because they share a building and entrance with Garibaldi’s (as well as ownership), but they have separate kitchens, staffs and menus.  Where Garibaldi’s is a more formal restaurant, Marzano is more of bar and pizzeria.

After 10, Marzano serves a “Late night happy hour” menu consisting mostly of Pizza.  Since we own a pizza store of our own, that wasn’t particularly interesting (although they make their pies New York style–thin cracker-like crust, very hot wood fired oven, not at all like what we serve at Fat Slice).

Fortunately, they also offer small plates.  We shared a chopped salad, meatballs (served in broth with cheese and Swiss chard, excellent), arancini (rice balls stuffed with mozzarella, served on a tomato sauce that I think should be hot, they think should be cold) and, best of all, fried friarello peppers, little peppers sauteed in oil and served with sea salt.

In true California foodie fashion, even a pizza joint has a fancy wine list–in this case all Italian wines we didn’t recognize.  Gail ordered “whatever is like a Pinot Gris” and seemed to enjoy it.  But we still feel that the wine list was too hip for the menu.

The tab for our late night snack was $40, including the wine and iced tea.  The food was good, service was just dandy, and it’s nice to have a place to eat late.

Marzano on College

5356 College Avenue

Oakland 510 595-4058

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