The story: Marzano was a popular neighborhood pizza place in Oakland’s Glenview district that closed in 2014 (a version of Marzano also opened in Rockridge, but that also closed). The Glenview location was replaced briefly by a British pub called The Growlers’ Arms, but when that closed last fall, the Marzano owners – who still owned the property – suggested that Marzano be resurrected.
Thing was, the owners (Justin Hafen and John Hurley) reportedly didn’t want to be in the restaurant business any more, so they sold the idea of bringing back Marzano to the restaurant’s original chef and general manager, Rob Holt and Manna Tekie, who jumped at the chance. So Marzano was reborn in February 2016.
Why I went: I always wanted to try Marzano when it got early buzz after opening in Glenview, but at the time I didn’t own a car and this residential area of Oakland isn’t the easiest to get to via public transit (and even driving, you’ll find it challenging to park). But now that I have wheels, I recently joined my fellow food blogging friends Christina of East Bay Dish (she suggested we dine here and was the only one of us who ate at the original Marzano), Brenda of Bites and Bourbon and Sandy of Foodhoe’s Foraging for one of our blogging bonanza dinners.
The vibe: It’s an Italian trattoria feel with dark wood tables and booths. There were a few young families early on but the restaurant filled up with adults, especially around the bar, and many of them seemed like they were from the neighborhood. The friendly service keeps the place casual and neighborly.
The booze: Your typical list of specialty cocktails, wine and beer. I’ve been on a drying spell so I can’t comment much on the booze, but both Sandy (who ordered a beer) and Christina (who ordered wine) seemed to be happy with their selections.
The menu: Since I never ate at the original Marzano, I can’t say what’s familiar or not, but I heard that the pan-roasted octopus ($15) is a crowd favorite from the days, and Christina remembers the soft-serve ice cream with various topping options for dessert. The menu has the traditional Italian sections of antipasti (appetizers) and insalate (salads) as well as nine types of Neap0litan-style pizzas with additional toppings. There are a few pasta dishes under the “piatti (or plates)” section, and we tried the fettuccine with spring onions ($18), which our table unanimously agreed was our least favorite dish because of the lack of color and flavor, looking very pedestrian. Still, we did enjoy the octopus starter and fennel sausage pizza ($18) was filling with a satisfying tomato sauce. Brenda and Christina also liked the mixed of ingredients in our antipasti dish of burrata di stefano ($15), which included house-made burrata cheese with marinated golden beets, prosciutto and crostini topped with a peashoot-green garlic pesto.
My favorite dish: While the pizza was good, I think the star was the pan-roasted octopus with tender chunks of octopus blending with nicely cooked Yukon potatoes. There was a nice kick from the Calabrian chili and a twist of flavor from bits of preserved lemon. It was a complex and delicious plate.
The last bite: A pizza restaurant is a no-brainer for most neighborhoods, and Marzano is taking full advantage of that with its nicely blistered Neapolitan-style pizzas. The menu doesn’t necessarily seem inventive or innovative, but its crowd favorites are what makes this a happy return for residents who just wanted their old neighborhood spot back.
The rating: 2 out of 4 camera snaps
The deets: Marzano, 4214 Park Blvd., Oakland. PH: 510.479.1448. Dinner daily from 5:30 p.m. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. marzanorestaurant.com
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