Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Strizzi’s has been an East Bay staple for over 25 years, with locations in Danville, Fremont, Pleasanton and Livermore. Strizzi’s first opened in 1986 with a location in San Leandro (now the Fremont location). Simple, classic, and fresh, Strizzi’s captures the essence of old world Italy with the added elegance of traditional and professional culinary standards. During my formidable years, my family always made a point to stop for lunch or dinner at Strizzi’s Livermore whenever talking a day trip to Pleasanton, Walnut Creek, or into The City. I can’t count the number of times I have been there but I have yet to order anything other than my usual; Chicken Pesto and Pine Nuts. It really is that good.

This pasta is Strizzi’s creamy take on traditional pesto. Sliced pieces of grilled chicken breast abundantly top a bowl of penne pasta drenched in a creamy pesto that is the perfect fusion of basil, garlic and cream. Raw pine nuts finish this dish off nicely, adding both pleasant texture and a contrasting nutty flavor to the creamy basil.

For this trip, I had the wife in tow, who was sampling Strizzi’s for the second time. Strizzi’s selection of appetizers offers most starters in a half order (small plate) and full order. Since we had yet to try their garlic fries we ordered a small plate of those and a small plate fried calamari. Their version of a San Francisco favorite, paired potato wedges, with fresh minced garlic, drizzled olive oil and sprinkled parsley. The wedges were perfectly cooked, a nice crispy outside with soft fluffy potato centers. Typically when I think garlic fries, I think of classic thick cut stadium fries drenched in minced garlic and oil, but these wedges with the lighter tossing of garlic, oil, and parsley were a perfect and enjoyably tasty interpretation. I typically never forget to  order the calamari which is always perfect, and was a welcomed familiar favorite.

My wife, not unlike myself, is a nut for shrimp. So when we found out tonight’s special was oven roasted jumbo prawns, there was no guessing what she was going to order. 4 jumbo prawns, presented in-shell, come with garlic mashed red potatoes and steamed broccolini. These suckers were so big, it was almost like they were small lobster tails. Roasted perfectly, the prawns were topped with a nice garlic butter that added just the right savory and rich flavor. The potatoes were also delightful. The garlic didn’t overpower and the potatoes were fluffy and creamy. The broccolini were blanched perfectly, not over steamed so that they were soft or mushy, and not too crunchy. This was such a simple yet perfect plate.

As with most good italian places, pasta dishes are priced in the high teens, appetizers (large plates) ranging from $8-$10. The most expensive items on the dinner menu are the Seafood Pasta ($22) and the wood grilled favorites which include a chicken, pork chop, or salmon entree ($22, $23 for the Salmon). These prices might seem high, but are modest compared to italian restaurants featuring seafood and steak that would be priced at $35 and higher. If that’s not all that convincing, consider that Strizzi’s prices are completely comparable to large chain restaurants like Olive Garden.

Calamari - Looks like someone dove in before the photo could be taken

Garlic Fries

Chicken Pesto & Pine Nuts
Roasted Jumbo Prawns

Strizzi's on Urbanspoon

Another great review by Tim & Jen

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