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Oakland’s Contrasto Brings Italian Fine Dining to an Unassuming Spot

When delicious pork belly finds you in odd places.

 

In many ways, Contrasto is an ill-fitting little restaurant. Chef Alessandro Campitelli took over the former Kitchen 388 spot in Oakland’s Adams Point neighborhood this past spring after having closed Chiaroscuro, the Italian fine-dining restaurant that he ran for 10 years in San Francisco’s financial district. He dubbed his new project a pop-up “test kitchen.” But what Contrasto feels like is a formal Italian eatery that has been transposed, awkwardly, onto a casual dining room and offers what is, for the neighborhood, a high-end menu: $26 entrées or a $55 four-course prix fixe.

If anything, though, the ungainliness of the concept only makes Campitelli’s cooking that much more of a pleasant surprise. You don’t walk into the site of a recent string of unsuccessful brunch cafés expecting the best handmade pastas in this particular slice of Oakland. And you don’t expect any dish coming out of that kitchen to be as memorable as the crispy pork belly appetizer. On a recent Saturday, two luscious, jiggly slices came artfully arranged on a plate with fresh corn, morels, and truffled mashed potatoes—so many complementary components, it felt more like a mini-entrée than an appetizer. Next time I'll just put in two orders and call it a day. 388 Grand Ave. (Near Staten Ave.), 510-918-3205 

  

Originally published in the August issue of San Francisco 

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