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Friday, February 10, 2012

Oliveto's Whole Hog Dinner 2012

After experiencing one of the Whole Hog dinners at Oliveto last year, I couldn't wait to do it again. This time I brought along a friend Susie, who had just moved to the neighborhood. While it may seem like everyone is jumping on the bandwagon and doing a whole animal dinner, the one at Oliveto is one of the oldest and surely one of the best. For one thing, it's a la carte, so you can eat and spend as much as you like. This year chef Jonah Rhodehamel focused the selections and there were more rustic options, but it's not all ears and trotters.

First up was a very hearty favata bean soup made from dried fava beans. Restaurant owner Bob Klein is the mastermind behind Community Grains and really knows his beans! The soup had tender chunks of braised pork, a chewy crouton and plenty of lift from a minty herbal puree. This is the kind of soup I would make and eat all week long.

Next up was a spectacularly good lasagna from Calabria called Sagne chine it had the lightest noodles and meatballs, plus a fresh and spicy tomato sauce and thin slivers of hard boiled egg. It was the most ethereal lasagna I have ever tasted. I was tipped off that a similar recipe is in My Calabria:Cooking with Rosetta cookbook so you may want to bookmark it. The recipe includes peas, and the Oliveto version does not.

The main course we shared was not the more common porchetta, but rather spit-roasted pork leg served with roasted carrots, turnips and greens. It was lean but still juicy, full of flavor. The chef told me he gets his pork from several sources including the sustainably raised ones from Magruder Ranch and Riverdog Farm.

After a palate cleansing salad of garden lettuce, we chose a pear strudel for dessert with vin santo ice cream. The leaves of the strudel with crackly crisp, because of course, they were slathered in strutto. Ah porcine goodness from beginning to end!

Note: There may be a few more seats left for this dinner 2/10/12, but call the restaurant to find out.

5655 College Avenue
Oakland, CA