The Old is New
When we moved to Orinda in 1962, the cool people bought their groceries at Blacks Market, 65 Moraga Way, next to the 76 Station. It was an old fashioned market, where the butcher shop was a concession owned by Vasco Giannini and there were still house accounts–we were account #357.
In time, Mr. Black died or retired and Vasco bought the whole store. Eventually he moved the the store around the corner, where BevMo is now.
Then began a string of restaurants. Anthony Bourdain, in Kitchen Confidential, writes that some locations are just jinxed and nothing can survive in them. I’ve often thought that 65 Moraga Way may well just be one of those sites.
The first victim was the Square Rigger, a bar I tried to hang out in until some clown told them I was only 19.
There followed a string of losers too long to count. I remember one, possibly Mediterranean, establishment with excellent duck where I took Linda Blaney on my 35th birthday, wearing my Armani sportcoat and driving my brand new Ford Fiesta. That was a good night.
There were any number of Italian and Mexican incarnations. all of them unable to overcome the jinx of the location.
Now there is one more contender, the Taverna Pellegrini. This place may have a slightly better chance since it is an offshoot of a successful San Francisco eatery of the same name.
We ate there tonight with Mike and Gretchen. I made a reservation, as always, but it wasn’t needed. The Monday after a holiday weekend is bound to be slow, so I wasn’t surprised to see a largely empty dining room.
The facility is pleasant, with the same footprint it has had for years and the same orange walls the last Mexican place painted. There is still a full bar if you just want to have a drink and socialize. Italian decorations change the culture of the building, mostly.
The menu is your basic Italian. Pizzas, pastas, entrees. A variety of very reasonably priced salads, an excellent antipasto plate. Specials are on a hand written sheet, which also contains the wine list.
This isn’t a fancy 4 star place, it’s a decent local Italian joint. Service is friendly and mostly efficient. The bus boy/runner needs some more training, but time will take care of that.
Taverna Pellegrini passes the most important test, barely. They serve decent iced tea and have sweetener–although not Splenda (the yellow stuff), only Equal (the blue stuff) On the other hand, they provided me with a proper ice tea spoon, a definite plus.
I had a tasty but un-photogenic dish of linguini pesto with chicken. It was just fine–nothing to write poetry about, but solidly well prepared.
Mike had the very photogenic osso buco:
Gail ordered the lasagna
There was nothing wrong with this dish, Gail is just spoiled by the lasagna at Chow in Lafayette and never finds any other lasagna to be as good.
Prices are reasonable, maybe a bit cheaper than usual in pricey Orinda.
There are a goodly number of decent Italian restaurants around here, and Taverna Pellegrini is another one. I don’t have a single complaint about dinner, nor did anything strike me as special, unique or a particular reason to choose them over any of the others. Let’s say it’s a reasonable choice if you are in Orinda, but not a reason to go to Orinda.