My friend, Naushon, and I had been wanting to try Dopo for months and finally got around to it on Tuesday night. My first visit was a good one. I will definitely go back.
Located at 4293 Piedmont Avenue in Oakland, the expanded space features mustard-colored stucko walls with red accents. Four flower and leaf arrangements were hung in green glass vases atop a pillar, lending a nice autumnal feeling. And a legendary chrome FAMEA E61 1961 espresso maker held court at one end of the tall granite bar.
Our server, Megan, was a delightful mix of knowledgeable, funny, down-to-earth, and attentive, without so much as a hint of pushy. In honor of Halloween, she was wearing a black "Catholic Girl Gone Bad" t-shirt, black skirt, and black and white striped tights. The "crowning" touch - a pair of small red horns sprouting from her head.
We ordered the:
- Fennel, wild arugala, and parmesan salad;
- Dopo pizza; and
- Riccota gnocchi with ragu of house-made sausage and hoffman farm hen
The dopo is their cheapest pizza and is topped with a light tomato sauce, grated pecorino and mozarella, chopped parsley, pepper flakes and anchovies (which are optional and I skipped). Because my stomach rebels at spicy foods, Megan had offered to ask the kitchen to hold the hot pepper flakes. As a result, the pizza toppings were slightly out of balance and tended to be primarily salty (and this was without the anchovies!) It was good, but unremarkable and not a topping combo I'd order again. The crust, however, was perfection! The pizza had the best thin crust I've eaten. It was remarkably thin, tender, and flavorful, but not at all burnt or charred.
The gnocchi was rich (thanks to the ricotta) and tender. The ragu was really excellent. The flavors had been well-married through long cooking and it had a subtle "creeper" spiciness that asserted itself more as you ate. They make their own salumi on the premises and the house-made sausage in the sauce was very tasty. Although the dish was good, we both felt that the sauce would have been even better with a plainer pasta - maybe a tagliatelle.
Dopo also has an amateur-friendly wine menu that features a picture of the boot with the wines listed by region. Naushon ordered a glass of montepulciano d'abruzzo ($5) which she enjoyed.
The Acme bread they served us was not quite warm enough but still very tasty.
Their portion sizes are fairly small. We both cleaned our plates. I felt perfectly full at the end of the meal, however, had I been a bigger woman or a man, I feel sure I'd have needed another dish or two to fill me up.
Total bill, with tax and a 20% tip, was $48.
Dopo is Italian for "after"or "later."
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