Despite its name, do not procrastinate your visit to Dopo (literally, afterward, or later), because this establishment really deserves your patronage! On Piedmont Avenue in Oakland, when I first had dinner there it was a tiny tiny venue which has since expanded to take over the beauty salon next door, adding much needed space for the many faithful customers!
The space is fresh and airy, with an open kitchen that allows you to see your pizza being baked and your pasta coming out of the oven. Fresh flowers and plenty of natural light are a nice touch to the daily changing menu, that while pretty “frugal” at lunch still deserves your full attention. I, for one, am a HUGE fan of arancini, the deep-fried risotto balls filled with a center of red sauce, very typical in southern Italy where Neapolitans and Sicilians elevated arancini to an art… but outside of Sicily, I have never had an arancino (the name comes from arancia, orange, because these delicious balls are the same shape and the same perfect golden shade!) made to order, crispy and perfectly warm, till I made my way to Dopo.
To me, a good arancino is worth a trip, and it will cast a shade over everything else I eat. This is Italian for comfort food, the warm snack you’d buy at the local rosticceria or friggitoria, and while it is more often see with a filling of green peas and tomatoes, the meat sauce version of Dopo still stood its own. Okay, it wasn’t made to order (it was not pan-hot when it got to me), but it was made in the past 15 minutes. I knew the moment I tried I was sold!
We also tried a pizza and a calzone- my pizza was quite delicious, mostly for the amazing power of tasting like bacon when it was a cheese and tomato pizza- the striking character of smoked caciocavallo lent the wonderful taste to the pizza. The calzone was also good, but both were pale compared to the arancino. Can you tell I REALLY liked it??
When dessert time came, I almost dropped off my chair when our waiter told us they had diplomatico. In Italy, diplomatico is similar to a napoleon (you can see an image here)- made with millefeuille, pan di spagna and pastry cream, soaked in alkermes liqueur and topped with powder sugar, it might have been my favorite pastry as a kid! However, for the first time Dopo dind’t match my expectations- and while dessert was excellent, really, the expectation of my favorite childhood dessert were drowned in a chocolate mousse cake covered in whipped cream. It could have been a lot worse!
4293 Piedmont Ave
Oakland, CA 94611