Alameda a la carte: Trabocco Kitchen and Cocktails
Alameda a la carte: Trabocco Kitchen and Cocktails
Photo courtesy of Christina McNeill.
Possibly the most ambitious dining and drinking establishment project in Island City history, Trabocco Kitchen and Cocktails opened last month at Alameda South Shore Center and has been enthusiastically embraced by the public.
The 4,700 square-foot establishment at Center Court (accessed by the walkway between Trader Joe's and Safeway), located in the space previously occupied by Zeytini Restaurant and Bar, has undergone a massive architectural redesign and renovation by Lev Weisbach of WEISBACH architecture|design of San Francisco that dazzles the eye, paying tribute to the restaurant's namesake fishing machines, or trabocci, that dot the Italian coast of the Adriatic.
The kitchen, with its wood-fired oven, opens on to the 90-seat main dining room, allowing patrons to watch Chef Giuseppe Naccarelli and his staff work their culinary magic. There is also a 16-seat private wine room, a 30-seat bar area, and a 56-seat outdoor patio, heated and enclosed at the moment for winter dining.
The restaurant is clearly a labor of love for Naccarelli, a native of Palombaro, Italy, and his wife, Christine, who also live in Alameda with their son and daughter. Chef Naccarelli was formerly vice president of kitchen operations for Il Fornaio's 21 restaurants. The Naccarellis are on the scene day and night, attending to their guests and making sure that everything runs smoothly.
Featuring fresh, locally sourced ingredients, the food is a contemporary take on classic Italian cuisine. Naccarelli says his aim is to have the restaurant “impart the warmth and strong sense of community that echoes both my Italian upbringing and the city of Alameda.” If my recent visit is any indication, Naccarelli's dream appears to be taking shape. The place was buzzing with activity and good cheer. Everyone around us looked delighted to be there and reluctant to leave.
My son Logan accompanied me on Tuesday night with great reluctance. He had just gotten back from a late class and was much more in the mood for fast food and kicking back, but he allowed me to use my considerable charm, i.e., guilt, bullying, and passive aggression, to sway him into joining me.
It was 8 p.m. and the place was packed. In spite of having reservations, our table was not ready due to the number of early birds unwilling to relinquish their seats, an inconvenience but understandable and actually a very good sign. A charming young hostess went out of her way to make sure we were seated as soon as possible. (A word to the wise: Reservations are a must and if they are later in the evening, be prepared to wait a little nonetheless.)
I began by sampling one of the house cocktails, which feature Alameda's St. George Spirits and Hangar One Vodka. The Alameda Royale is a delightfully refreshing concoction of raspberry liqueur and Prosecco with a twist of orange. Rock Wall wines specially blended for Trabocco by winemaker Shauna Rosenblum are also available on tap.
For an appetizer, I had the carpaccio - delicately thin slices of raw, grass-fed beef with lemon, olive oil, shaved parmesan, and arugula. It was fabulous.
My main course was the Brodetto alla Vastese, a seafood stew in tomato broth served with grill-toasted bread. The serving was hearty and included a healthy variety of fresh clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops, and fresh fish. The menu listed octopus among the ingredients but I didn't see any, which frankly is just as well. It certainly wasn't missed. The dish was a rare treat, perfectly seasoned and prepared with the freshest of herbs.
For his main course, my son played it safe with the Pollo Abruzzese, a wood-fire grilled boneless half-chicken in a fresh herb and chili flake marinade with Abruzzese salt, served with roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts and asparagus. By this time, Logan had thawed considerably, gave his dinner the thumbs up and pronounced the potatoes the best he had ever tasted.
We finished the meal with a heavenly pumpkin crème brulee and a flourless chocolate cake with crème anglais. Everything was beautifully presented and delicious. I look forward to trying the pizza, pasta, and stuzzichini (small bites) in the future.
Trabocco Kitchen and Cocktails is open from 4:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 4:30 pm to 11:00 p.m Fridays and Saturdays. Luncheon hours to begin at 11:00 a.m. soon. Phone: 521-1152.
Home Cooking: Eggnog Alternatives
Eggnog, like fruitcake, is one of those holiday traditions that you either embrace or abhor. I'm not a huge fan, but I understand that, as in almost everything else, it's in the way one nogs one's egg that makes the difference between so-so and spectacular.
Alameda's gingerbread lady (and The Alamedan's resident videographer) Donna Eyestone tells me that using eggs from one's own chickens is one secret to success. Besides, she has to do something with the yolks left over from making the royal icing that holds her masterpieces together. (Be sure to check out her gingerbread rendition of the Croll's Building on display in the window of the 1400 Bar and Grill).
If you like eggnog, you've probably got secrets of your own. But if you don't, or you just want to broaden your holiday cheer options, here are some alternatives. Both are simple to make but require advance preparation, so plan ahead.
This Puerto Rican twist on the traditional egg-based holiday beverage is popular on the East Coast. The coconut flavor is more subtle than you might expect. The recipe is adapted from one supplied by Ralph Andradez. Ralph lived down the street from me in Upstate New York back when I was a tiny tyke with eyes all aglow. (His sister used to try to ram me with her sled. Not that I'm bitter or anything.)
4 egg yolks (free range, hormone free)
½ cup of organic brown sugar
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk
1 21 oz. bottle cream of coconut (such as Coco Real)
1 ½ tsp. of vanilla extract
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 to 2 ½ cups dark spiced rum
additional nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, toasted flaked coconut for garnished if desired
Put all ingredients except the rum in a blender and combine.
Adjust the seasoning to taste.
Transfer contents of blender to a clean glass container, add rum and shake well.
Let sit overnight in the freezer.
To serve, shake well and pour into small glasses to serve. A sprinkle of nutmeg, some toasted flaked coconut and a cinnamon stick make for a festive garnish.
NOTE: I suppose the recipe would work just as well with regular eggs and brown sugar, but Ralph says you need something to help you feel virtuous in the face of consuming all those calories!
Wassail Punch (alcohol-free)
Traditional versions of this “merry olde” English drink include ale and Madeira wine, and no doubt the attendant hangover for those who over indulge. This version is child-friendly, guilt-free, and no less delightful. Great to come home to after a stroll on Christmas Tree Lane!
2 quarts apple cider
2 cups orange juice
½ cup lemon juice
12 whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground nutmeg
In a slow-cooker over low heat, combine ingredients and simmer for 8 hours. Ladle into punch cups or mugs.
New and Noteworthy
Du Vin Fine Wines, 2526A Santa Clara Avenue, is now CRAFT Beer & Wine. Du Vin owner Dan Marshall, who has been at the helm for 12 years, has sold the business to craft beer expert Russ Rasmussen. Dan is staying on to help establish the new venture. Russ has expanded the store's inventory of over 400 wines to include 300 craft beers, and will offer beer and wine tasting in addition to retail sales. Phone: (510) 769-9463.
Lola's Chicken Shack is open for business at 1417 Park Street. Lola's features chicken strips with a variety of dipping sauces, chicken sandwiches, salads, soups, and side dishes such as macaroni and cheese. Freshly baked cookies and brownies are also available. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Phone: (510) 521-4488.
Alameda Wine Company, 2315 Central Avenue, has added "Cybele's Small Plates" on Fridays and Saturdays. AWC Associate Cybele Chang has created hot food offerings to supplement the current tapas menu. I tried the chimichurri steak. Terrific! The list will change, but for now there's also miso ginger salmon, organic butternut squash soup and crab cakes.