March 11, 2009 > Restaurant Review: Buon Appetito
Restaurant Review: Buon Appetito
By Dennis Wolfe
How often have you gone out to eat at a locally-owned restaurant and said to yourself or to your dining partner how much you enjoyed the meal but told no one else? I recently had a chance while in Hayward to dine at Buon Appetito and I still can't stop talking about it. Located at 971 A Street, it is not the easiest place to access. "A" Street has terrible parking but no worries because you can park in the public parking lot on Main Street or go over to B Street and park in the lot there. If you do park in the B Street lot, there is a back entrance to Buon Appetito. Regardless, the short walk will only serve to make the meal even more enjoyable when you finally arrive.
This is a well designed and comfortable place to dine. It can easily accommodate a small private party of up to 40 or so people in its rear dining area and about 90 people overall. I had a chance to speak to Martino, the owner, and it is very clear that he truly cares about his customers. He wants them to enjoy their dining experience. Martino has impressive credentials; for seven years he worked as the second in command at one of the great restaurants in San Francisco, Il Fornaio.
What he learned at Il Fornaio has clearly impacted the food he makes at Buon Appetito. I dine two to three times a year in Beverly Hills with friends and we go to a couple of very nice Italian restaurants there where certain items are a "must" to order. When I saw that Buon Appetito's menu had Pennete Alla Vodka, I ordered it. Not every Italian restaurant makes this dish. It assaults you with flavor and when done right it is fantastic! Buon Appetito does it right! It is a penne pasta cooked in a creamy tomato sauce that contains just the right amount of caramelized onions and Italian bacon. You cannot eat it all but you can't stop eating it. I learned part of why it was so good at Buon Appetito when I spoke to Martino. Their pasta is homemade and they make their sauces from scratch. They make and bake their own breads. In one word this means "fresh"
Buon Appetito desserts are homemade as well. If you previously thought you ate the best bread pudding ever, I would highly recommend trying it here. Made in style that is very European - light by weight and full of flavor - Buon Appetito's bread pudding gets an A+++.
I began my meal with the house salad and you would do well to order it as well. It is refreshing with the wonderful flavor of thinly-sliced pears woven through layers of freshly cut lettuce and shaved ricotta cheese. To complement the salad I also ordered the fried calamari appetizer with the traditional tartar sauce and a tomato sauce dip - very tasty.
I knew the kitchen was clean at Buon Appetito because it is open for all to see and it was constantly being cleaned.
The restroom is very clean but a bit tired. Regardless, it was clean and that is the most important aspect to me.
Overall, I enjoyed the dining experience and found the prices to be very fair. The service was excellent without being overwhelming. Overall, I enjoyed a truly great meal.
Martino, the executive chef and owner, is present on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Friday and Saturday nights and I would encourage you to say hello to him. He loves what he does. I know; it shows in his food and I am sure it will show in your smile when you dine there. Let me know how you like the Pennete Alla Vodka.
Reviewed Feb 04, 2009