Oceanic Dinners, June 19-22 – Coming right along

Oceanic Dinners, June 19-22  —Coming right along

Maggie’s notes from the meeting

Step 1:  Planning Meeting with Tom Worthington of Monterey Fish, Chef Jonah, Sous Chef Brian

We met with fish supplier Tom Worthington last week and were given his best estimate of what will be available for our June 19-22 dinners. These are the fish the chefs can begin to plan the menu around. All fish in these dinners are from healthy, sustainable fisheries. Here’s the list:

-whole petrale
-good sand dabs
-sea bass
-local halibut—good availability, long-line
-Sierra and Boston mackerel
-razor clams
-scallops, possibly in their shells
-local anchovies “good to go”
-soft-shell and Dungeness crab
-Rhode Island eel
-Spanish cod tripe
-farm-raised abalone and trout
-monkfish (Marshall Islands)
-sea robins
-sea urchin

Possible, Tom will work on it:
-bonita, but probably too early
-coon-striped shrimp possible
-geoduck clams possible
-limited king salmon

Not available:
-shellfish aren’t at their most plentiful this time of year
-albacore and yellowfin tuna
-spot shrimp

A little of the conversation: Tom loves Chef Jonah’s braised Spanish cod tripe, but says Jonah, “Nobody orders it.” (Sometimes exotic items on the Oceanic Dinners menu bring out a certain faintheartedness in some diners.) Tom also loves sea robin in bouillabaisse. King salmon are limited, “after 200 years of our being bad to them,” says Tom. The season opens on the first day of our event, so we can prepare them on the third day should we choose. Jonah likes to prepare eel, which will be in season from Rhode Island. Sous Chef Brian was thinking along the lines of sea urchin tart with crème fraîche and caviar, potato-wrapped oysters Rockefeller, and chilled crab soup.

We’ll report on the menu’s progress, and which fish make the cut.

Reserve Online or Call 510.547.5356

2018 Oceanic Dinners Announced: June 19th to 22nd

2018 Oceanic Dinners Announced:

June 19th to 22nd

We’ve been doing these Oceanic Dinners for a while (17 years). They’ve always taken place in summertime, usually June. We try to be as seasonal as we can, and June is the time when the greatest variety of fish and sea creatures from around the world are at their peak. Fish, and particularly these dinners are exceptions to our long time focus on food from local farms and producers. The best, sustainably managed fisheries frequently don’t have local markets for their catches, and we’ve felt the kind of fishing they do needs to be supported and kept healthy. Tom Worthington of Monterey Fish Market goes into overdrive to find the best fish for Chef Jonah and Sous Brian to “play with.” These are many people’s favorite dinners and we’ve always been proud of them.

We’ll be reporting periodically on how the menu takes shape, but we do book up and it might be wise to reserve now to get the time and date that you want.


Reserve Online or Call 510.547.5356

Pigeons Are Back On The Menu (Limited Supply)

Pigeon on the Menu Tonight!

Possibly the most treasured of all the food that we ever have on the menu at Oliveto are Philip Paine’s Pigeons, from Sonoma.

After the fires in Sonoma, which he narrowly escaped, Philip sold the business and we haven’t had pigeon on the menu. We’ve been trying to get them from the new owner, who has been going through his own production problems, and we finally managed to get 20 birds that will go on the menu tonight, likely into tomorrow.

We expect to get deliveries every other week, so it will be limited for a while.

Philip is an incredibly important member of the Oliveto Community, and friend of ours. Very few special meals have gone without pigeon on the menu. An Australian master breeder, Philip had a hard time finding pigeons here originally, but it is thanks to his dedication and painstaking notes that we get to serve such delicious birds.

So for those that truly miss these, here’s an opportunity. Come in tonight, or we’ll probably have them through part of tomorrow night if you’re early. There will be more to come.

For another example of Philip’s masterful breeding, here’s a fun old video about his hobby of breeding race horses. Clarence Peak’s Debut


Reserve Online or Call 510.547.5356

Ongoing Whole Animal — Magruder Beef

Whole Animal at Oliveto

Even after the Whole Hog dinners, whole animal butchering is always going on at Oliveto, and Magruder Beef is always hanging in the locker.

Whole animal has long been central to Oliveto. We hang up a new steer in the locker about every three weeks. Chef Jonah has perfected a system of slowly utilizing cuts when they’re at their best, immediately serving up the cuts exposed to air like the flank and skirt steaks, and letting those cuts deeper in the animal, protected by fat caps, to age for sometimes 4-5 weeks until the flavor is at its peak. This week, we’re moving from flank steaks to tenderloin. The careful butchering and low-waste methodology is really a tribute to the quality of the animals that we get from Magruder Ranch in Potter Valley, CA.

The Magruder Family is one that we feel particularly close to.
See an old video we made about them below.

What we learn with every food that we prepare, is that the quality of the food is largely determined by the farmer, or in this case rancher. When you come in and see Magruder on the menu, its from a remarkable family. They raise an animal with superior genetics, well fed and finished. Normally grass fed animals are being fed silage for much of the year, but Magruder has irrigated pasture and finishes them on what he calls “ice cream”. This is the grass when its just turning brown at its peak nutrition and bioavailability. This type of grass management creates better tasting beef, and some marbling that you don’t expect from grass fed.


Reserve Online or Call 510.547.5356

2018-03-23T16:43:11+00:00March 23rd, 2018|Coming up..., Events, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Whole Hog Dinners are Underway


Whole Hog Dinners are Underway

 Three more nights through Saturday, March 17

Here are some highlights…


Plated clockwise from top left:

Coppa di testa with horseradish crema, mustard greens, and crumbled bacon


Rigatoni with whey-braised pork shoulder


Frascarelle with braised pork, sweet herbs, and consommé; black garlic-fish sauce aïoli


Tasting of pork sausages: boudin blancboudin noir, and Tuscan sausage with Puy lentils


Full menu below & available online.

Reserve Online or Call 510.547.5356


2018-03-15T16:33:52+00:00March 15th, 2018|Coming up..., Events, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Whole Animal For A Reason


Oliveto’s 19th Annual Whole Hog Dinners–Whole Animal for a Reason

 March 13-17, 2018, Tuesday through Saturday

An interview with Italian butcher, Dario Cecchini from 2009.

In our yearly travels in Italy, we’ve heard from traditional wine makers and culinary historians and grandmothers and chefs that what gives Italian cuisine its broad variation, its depth of flavors, and, in general, what makes it one of the great world cuisines is its roots in the kitchens of the poor. That is certainly so with the preparation of meats. Out of respect for the animal (as expressed in the above video) and out of the need for economy, traditional techniques use the whole animal. In doing so, this has developed a repertoire that makes use of highly skilled butchery, meat preservation techniques and flavorings, and a seeming infinite array of offerings.


The menu chef Jonah has devised for our upcoming Whole Hog Dinners will include the following examples of traditional (and unusual to us) use of the whole animal: pappardelle di sangre with Manila clams, ‘nduja, and radishes; fritto of pig’s ears, artichokes, and asparagus with green garlic aïoli and Meyer lemon; minestra of butter beans and pork rind with salsa verdewarm terrina of pig trotters with Walla Walla onion soubise.


Of course, Jonah’s menu will include beautifully prepared, more familiar and “refined” cuts as well (along with non-pork items).  We’ll be sending the whole menu in the next few days.


Reserve Online or Call 510.547.5356

2018-03-06T17:36:53+00:00March 6th, 2018|Coming up..., Events, Uncategorized|0 Comments

19th Annual Whole Hog Dinners–and Looking Back


Oliveto’s 19th Annual Whole Hog Dinners–and Looking Back

Willis Hog Farm from Oliveto Community on Vimeo.

Our first Whole Hog Dinner, in 2000, represented two sources of excitement for us:  first, our Chef, after spending years in Italy mastering hog butchery and in innumerable ways making use of the whole animal, had, at Oliveto, been serving house-made fermented and cured salumi, along with spit-roasted brined hams,aristas, wood-grilled chops, and so on, to considerable accolades from critics and customers. And second, we were part of a community that was, it turns out, changing the food system: we’d developed relationships with traditional, family hog farmers whose practices were humane and organic, and who were delighted to finally have connections with cooks who deeply appreciated what they were doing.

Our original hog farmers were Don Watson, who had a small family operation in Napa, and Paul Willis in Iowa, part of the Niman cooperative of family farmers. We visited both farms, and saw first-hand why it was their meats were so fine. At Paul’s place, the farrowing barn was a highlight. Naturally inseminated (we know what that means) sows and their litters of piglets had every opportunity to indulge in their natural behaviors. When they’d had it with their offspring, the mothers could escape to a comfortable, hay-strewn portion of the barn and be with their friends, the other sows. The babies, at all stages, were given warmth, isolation from other litters, and clean beds. Even in the dead of winter, the sows had the option to go out into the surrounding fields should the need to be alone grab them. There was a barn cat who, from atop the partitions separating the litters, seemed to assume a proprietary role in the barn.

We used words like “authentic” and “genuine”—commonplace enough now—and created a series of videos we called Real Food, the attached piece being the second in that sequence. Now, nineteen years later, the traditional pork dishes and salumistill represent a high point in artisanal pork butchery, and the new dishes add the excitement of Chef Jonah Rhodehamel’s creativity. Family hog farms have proliferated, and each offers different breeds with different diets and variations on humane husbandry practices.


Menu will be à la carte

& includes non-pork items

Reserve Online or Call 510.547.5356

2018-03-02T17:28:03+00:00March 2nd, 2018|Coming up..., Events, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Whole Hog Dinner, dates set: March 13-17

A well-wallowed, Red Wallow sow with her piglet
Photo credit: Heritage Foods USA


Oliveto’s 19th Annual Whole Hog Dinners
are coming…soon.

Our curing room is packed with salumi, and our sauerkraut is underway. Long-time Olivetians anticipate revisiting some of Italy’s greatest traditional pork dishes; the new cooks in our kitchen are eagerly anticipating all things pig for the first time in a seasoned, traditional, whole-animal-based kitchen under the tutelage of our expert chef Jonah Rhodehamel. And Brian Griffith—our new, talented sous chef—is eager to contribute additions to an old tradition:

Whole Hog Dinners at Oliveto, March 13-17

Reserve Now

Menu à la carte

Plenty of non-pork items on the menu

Reserve Online or Call 510.547.5356

2018-03-02T17:27:39+00:00February 26th, 2018|Coming up..., Events, Uncategorized|0 Comments

This Just In: The Season’s Frist Asparagus

The First of the Spring Asparagus is in the Kitchen

A quick note to herald in the changing of seasons. The asparagus this early spring are particularly sweet and delicious. They’re grown in the Salinas Valley, supplied to us by long trusted farmer Martin Bournhonesque. The season came 10 days early this year. Martin thinks that the proximity to the sea is in part responsible for their flavor.

“Sparrow Grass”, as it was commonly called in England, has been eaten by humans for centuries. Originally found growing wild, there are records of it from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Highly nutritious and low in calories, these perennial spears were cultivated for their gastronomic, medicinal, and even aphrodisiacal virtues.

We’re serving them simply, blanched and sautéed with olive oil.

Reserve Online or Call 510.547.5356

2018-02-21T12:52:40+00:00February 21st, 2018|Coming up...|0 Comments

Valentine’s Day Dinner Menu 2018

Valentine’s Day Dinner 2018

We googled Saint Valentine to see if there was
anything worth writing about. Turns out there really
isn’t, but we think you’ll like this menu.

Kushi oyster with blood orange gelée and shiso


Parfait of Dungeness crab, winter citrus, and avocado
Soup:  vellutata of wild mushrooms with Perigord truffle crema


Tortelli di zucca with crumbled Amaretti cookies, brown butter,
and sage
Acquerello Carnaroli risotto of Maine lobster with fines herbes and
Pecorino Romano cheese



Butter-poached Maine lobster with celeriac crema, Black Trumpet
mushrooms, and smoked trout roe spumante


Due of Liberty Farms duck:  breast and sausage with rainbow chard
and Seville orange mostarda


Choice of desserts.  tba


Prix Fixe Menu

95. per person

A 20% pre-tax Service Charge will be added.


Reserve Online or Call 510.547.5356

2018-02-01T17:07:05+00:00February 1st, 2018|Coming up...|0 Comments