Our New Rosticceria



Porchetta with tomatoes, olive oil-whipped potatoes, and salsa verde, 19.

We’ve converted our downstairs cafe into an Italian rosticceria in the evenings.

Our rosticceria is focused on fire-roasted or slowly braised meats and simple vegetable dishes from farmers we know, at affordable prices. The menu is designed for quick service, but diners can still sit down and linger – perhaps over a cocktail from our new cocktail list.

With the rosticceria, our neighbors can stroll in for a quick platter of roasted beef, chicken, lamb, or pork (depending on what’s available) with a choice of sides. We’ll also be offering a compelling vegetarian option, a fish stew, and a vegetarian and meat-based lasagne. Our pizza and polenta service will stay the same.

We think spit-roasting on our rotisserie is just the bee’s knees. It’s the simplest way to make extremely well-raised meat taste even better. The meat bastes in its own juices, and the fat from roasts arranged higher on the rotisserie drips onto roasts arranged lower, or onto dishes of vegetables cooking at the bottom. The food takes on the subtle smoky flavors of the fire, which, in our case, consists of charcoal and almond wood.


Brussels sprouts with pancetta, 14.

Most importantly, the rosticceria concept allows us to expand our whole animal program, which supports some of our favorite small farmers and ranchers, such as Magruder Ranch, Riverdog Farm, and Hoffman Farm. It will also make their fine, traditionally raised meat and poultry more affordable to our neighbors. A serving of meat plus two sides will cost a little under twenty dollars.

As we go through our animals, different cuts will become available, so our menu will slowly shift as the week progresses.

It’s going to be delicious!


Roasted peppers stuffed with brown Basmati rice, fresh Borlotti beans, almonds, and goat cheese, 11.

Market Update: INTENSE Season equals INTENSE Produce


Although the weather has taken a cooler turn in the past week, the produce at the South Berkeley Farmers’ Market yesterday was the product of an unusually hot season that got off to an early start with a number of heatwaves that began back in May. Instead of a steady trickle of new harvests, things seem to be arriving all at once with peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, (all those heat-loving plants) taking the lead.

Melon display from Riverdog Farm - July 2013

Melon display from Riverdog Farm. July 2013

Not to be outdone, the melons this year are outrageous. Both Full Belly Farm and Riverdog Farm had incredible displays that heavily perfumed both ends of the market like fragrant book-ends. When asked to describe this year’s season, Judith Redmond blew a lock of hair from her forehead and said, “INTENSE.”

On the menu starting tonight:

Salad of Canary melon, Armenian cucumbers, anise hyssop, and 30-month prosciutto

Roast breast of hen with eggplant purée, Jimmy Nardello peperonata, and salmariglio

Yay summer!

Tomato Season 2012 Update


We hit the Derby Street 63rd and Adeline market yesterday to check in with some of our favorite tomato farmers and find out how the season is progressing.

Last time we’d checked in things were off to a slower and cooler start than expected which led to our decision to reschedule this year’s Tomato Dinners for mid-September. This time around we found an eye-popping barrage of technicolored specimens representing a wide range of varieties which are all ripening right now. Additionally we were told again and again, this is just the beginning!

Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm

Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm

Judith from Full Belly Farm in the Capay Valley said they planted six waves of tomatoes and currently the second one is just winding down and the third wave hasn’t even started yet! Daytime temperatures are averaging around 100 degrees and the tomatoes are loooooving it. Anna from Catalan Family Farm in Hollister said they are “SWIMMING in tomatoes” and barring an early frost, will probably have tomatoes until October possibly mid-November! Tim from Riverdog Farm said although their season was initially behind schedule, due to a late first planting and then an early heatwave in June that knocked some buds off, the tomatoes are now in full roar. And Karen from Lucero Organic Farm in Lodi, which has a daunting variety of tomatoes on display, said the smaller earlier varieties started picking up speed a few weeks ago but now everything is in full swing.


Overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices? Come nerd out with us on September 16th when Chef Jonah Rhodehamel will be leading a tomato tasting in preparation for this year’s Tomato Dinners. This is a chance to taste a wide variety of tomatoes from a number of local farmers and hear a chef’s opinion on how they would be best put to use.

Tomato Season 2010 off to a slow start

While tomatoes seem to be very late this year and our farmers think most of their crops are three to five weeks behind, looking back on Tomato Watch 2009 gives us some perspective. We’ve got Chef Canales reporting from the Farmers’ Market on July 27, 2009 the “official arrival of tomatoes” so perhaps we are seeing the beginning of a pattern in these later harvests over the last few years.

This year, because the rainy season went so long, we’ve pushed the dates for the 2010 Tomato Dinners

[reserve] back to September 15 – 19 and are watching and waiting. Recently, we’ve seen the first few cherry tomatoes and Sun Golds, and just this week some delicious “ugly” Early Girls.

In the meantime, we had fun revisiting Tomato Watch 2009 so we collected the posts here and thought we’d share:

Highlights include:
Joe Schirmer of Dirty Girl Produce on Dry-Farming in post #2, and then on July 3rd with further dry-farming information. Also, Joe’s own video reports in post #5 and #10 are of special note.

Riverdog Farm explain their growing cycle and how and when tomatoes are picked in posts #18 and #20.

Brookside Farm’s Welling and Ann Tom show us lovely pictures and thoughtful reports on their season in Brendwood, culminating in the October 1st Dead Ripe video.

Market Report #5: with Tim Mueller of Riverdog Farm

Tim Mueller took some time to talk to us on Saturday at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market about what is going on and what is going IN to the ground at Riverdog Farm. The first plantings of summer’s big ticket items including tomatoes, sweet corn, and beans will happen over the next few weeks. While crops planted last fall begin to go to seed, the end of March/beginning of April is the last slow time before the busyness of late April begins picking up speed through May, until we reach the full-blown madness of summer in June. In the meantime, Tim and Trini still have their hands full with loads of favas, asparagus, beets, and carrots, not to mention chickens and hogs.

Tim also gives us a briefing on some of the fall-out from last December’s cold snap, and explains how the effects of those frigid temperatures are still being felt.

2017-09-12T15:48:45-07:00April 13th, 2010|Market Reports, Riverdog Farm, Spring|0 Comments

Market Report #3: ‘Crazy’ Cabbage, Goose Eggs, Red Romaine

Yesterday, Bill and Paul hit the Derby Street market just in time to see all the purple asparagus vanish. No bother. There was plenty else to ogle including ‘crazy’ cabbage from Full Belly Farm and beautiful red romaine lettuce from Riverdog Farm. Also some massive goose eggs from Arthur Davis of Ludwig Avenue Farm and a few tips from Chef Canales on how to poach them.

From this point on it only gets better with berry season just around the corner and stone fruits soon after.

Autumn 2009 at Riverdog Farm

riverdog_150Tomato harvest continues, although not at the pace it was just a month ago. We’re still busy harvesting peppers, eggplants, greenbeans, black-eyed peas, and of course, winter squash. We’re also busy seeding and planting many of our winter crops: kale, broccoli, and cabbage. In a couple of the photos in which a crew member (foreground) is picking tomatoes, another one of our crew members is transplanting cabbages in an adjacent field. We cultivate with a tractor and then by hand to weed out unwanted vegetation in our beds. Our fall greens and root veggies are just a few weeks from harvest.

2017-09-12T15:48:54-07:00October 5th, 2009|Riverdog Farm|0 Comments

Turning away from tomatoes and toward the persimmons


Brookside Farm Autumn 2009 Brentwood, CA

We queried our farmers last week, just before the Autumnal Equinox on September 22nd, to get one last report as tomato season comes to a close and to find out what is planned for the cooler months of fall.

Welling Tom of Brookside Farm had this to tell us:

Most of our tomatoes are finished, except for the San Marzano, which is still going strong. It turns out that most of the tomato plants which we bought from the nursery (a rather large operation which I will not name) as Early Girl were not Early Girl. We suspected something was not right when the fruits began to ripen in late June. They were much too big and squatty shaped, and the vines never grew as tall as Early Girl vines should. Early Girl fruits should be a bit pointed at the blossom end, and the “shoulders” around the calyx should not be very broad. Those girls are not supposed to look so butch!

New fruits ceased to appear after only about one month, while Early Girl should continue to produce as long as the weather remains warm and dry (through the month of October in most years). We never sold any to Oliveto, except a few green (unripe) ones for the Tomato dinners.

Many of the Brandywine plants which we bought from that same nursery turned out wrong also. They had the broad “potato” leaves, but the fruit were a bright orange-y red rather than the pinkish red of true Brandywines. They didn’t taste right, either. Still, despite these problems, our tomato harvest turned out pretty well. We will get our tomato plants from a smaller, more reliable nursery next year. Kassenhoff Growers of Oakland has been our source for specialty varieties, like the Pineapple, San Marzano, and Momotaro. We will turn to them for Early Girl and Brandywine too.

As of today, this eve before the Equinox, we have broccoli, rainbow chards, Lacinato kale, and snow peas already growing. We will try to grow more greens and beets and turnips in the next week or so, and garlic and torpedo onions too (October-November). This autumn should yield a heavy crop of Fuyu persimmons. We are looking forward to that.

We will have Comice pears available this week. Last Sunday, when I was delivering a late-summer bounty of okra, Japanese eggplants, ‘Figaro” peppers, and San Marzano tomatoes to the Oliveto kitchen, Jenny Raven asked me if we have any autumn fruits. We will have the persimmons about a month from now, but the Comice pears are already ripening.


Many of the farms we source from have gatherings at this time of year to celebrate the harvest. Full Belly Farm’s Annual Hoes Down Festival happens this weekend, October 3rd, and is always a good time with live music, tons of activities, and lots of excellent food.

On Sunday, October 18th, Riverdog Farm will host a Pumpkin Patch Party with hayrides, pumpkin picking, and a meal served under the walnut trees. They will post more details about this event on their website in the next few weeks.

Brookside Farm held its annual Corn Harvest party September 13th. Here are some photographs from the afternoon:

More photographs of the event were taken by Eisaku Tokuyama, a friend of the Toms, and can viewed here.

2017-09-12T15:48:55-07:00September 28th, 2009|Brookside Farm, Full Belly Farm, Riverdog Farm|0 Comments

Tomato Watch Week 20: Shippers, Breakers, Pickers, Packers


Riverdog Farm’s pasture-raised hens grub up some heirlooms

We’ve been tomato watching now for five months and finally, tomato season is here! Dry-farmed Early Girls are tasting excellent right now, and the heirlooms have just reached their height, giving the kitchen ample time to work with them before Tomato Dinners begin on August 26th. It has been a great year for tomatoes weather-wise and also timing-wise; many farmers took the risk of planting early and the risk paid off.

Another part of the equation is knowing when to pick tomatoes and who to pick them for. Back in April, Tim Mueller of Riverdog Farm in Yolo County took the time to explain to us the stages of a ripening tomato. He differentiates between what is ripe enough to ship and sit, what is perfectly ripe, or “dead ripe” that it heads to the Farmers’ Market (or Oliveto) that day, and what is so ripe it’s only fit for a hog or a hen.

Film edited by Dallas Mark

Tomato Watch Week 18 (Part 2): In which we also consider the eggplant

Chef Paul Canales hit up the Derby Street Farmers’ Market yesterday with daughter Eva in tow. The duo got a look at some of the recently available tomatoes at Riverdog Farm, Catalan Farms, Lucero Organic Farm, and Full Belly Farm. Tomato season should hit its peak in the next few weeks, giving the chefs time to evaluate what’s up to snuff for this year’s tomato dinners.

In the meantime, the current showstopper is eggplant. Chef Canales shows us the three varieties he’s particularly fond of and explains how he likes to use them. Eggplant will be on the Oliveto menu in a variety of dishes over the next few days including:

Conchiglie with Rosa Bianca egglpant and pancetta

Stuffed chard and fried ricotta polpettini with wood-oven-roasted eggplant purée

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