Search Results:

Rivoli (Albany)

Author: Kathryn | No Comments
Categories: Berkeley & Albany | Tags: Tags: , , ,

1539 Solano Avenue
(between Neilson St & Peralta Ave)
Albany, CA 94707
(510) 526-2542


Liberty Duck Confit Cassoulet and Slow Braised Lamb Shoulder—these are the entrees that jump out from the Rivoli menu when you sit down to scour the list for a vegetarian option. Look for a vegan option and you will only read more about various fish and flat iron steak. If you are vegetarian-not-vegan, there might be a ravioli with dense cheese in butter sauce, or a wedding-type vegetarian food: something green or yellow packed into filo. Of course, you can always ask the waiter what can be done “off menu,” and he will say he’ll “ask the chef,” as if your request is that outre.

The last time I went to Rivoli was with a birthday party. It turned out their reservation system was mostly an illusion. About ten of us stood crammed into a small bar area up front, where the smirking hostess assured us it would be “just a minute more,” for the full forty minutes that we waited.

They do have an excellent wine menu, and I availed myself of that, in addition to bread. I know a lot of people love Rivoli, but as a vegetarian, the food was disappointing, and the service was lacking. The ravioli was of that giant, buttery variety, which tasted good in my mouth and instantly left me queasy. Ken got an “off menu” vegan entree that seemed to be white beans piled on spinach, splattered with pine nuts. I tasted it—not bad—but utterly unimpressive.

We’ve been to a number of high-end fancy restaurants in places like Maui that make fantastic off-menu vegetarian offerings. I’m sorry to say Rivoli isn’t in that category. They seem more determined to turn the animal you once loved as a first grade classroom pet into something crispy on your plate. If that’s your thing, and somehow you are reading this blog, then Rivoli is the place for you.

Everyone at our table was animated by the arrival of the signature mushroom fritters. I found them bland and oily, like something you’d regret ordering at a children’s theme park.

Café Raj (Albany)

Author: Kathryn | No Comments
Categories: Berkeley & Albany | Tags: Tags: , ,

1158 Solano Avenue
Between Kains and Stannage
Albany, CA 94706
(415) 626-1628


This popular neighborhood destination near the bottom of Solano Avenue can sometimes be so busy that there’s a waitlist—even around 6 pm. However the line moves fast. A few years ago, they expanded into the space next door.

The menu has a special vegetarian section, featuring the well-known staples of Indian vegetarian food (as Ken and I see it). Bangan Barta (eggplant), Aloo Saag (spinach & potato), Saag Paneer (spinacy curry with cheese), and Chana Masala (garbanzo beans) top the list. They’re all are quite tasty, in particular the Chana Masala. How so many great things can come out of their tiny kitchen astounds me, but their food is consistently delicious, and light.

Café Raj is a friendly, family-owned place, and the people taking orders may even be the children: an extroverted and sweet group. It is reasonably priced and always delicious.

Shik Do Rock (Albany)

Author: Ken | No Comments
Categories: Berkeley & Albany | Tags: Tags: , ,

1137 Solano Ave
(between Kains Ave & Stannage Ave)
Albany, CA 94706
(510) 526-6003


As recently as 2007 I had never tried Korean Food. But then a fortuitous find in an underground mall in Sapporo, Japan began my love affair with vegetarian dolsot bibimbap—rice, tofu, mushrooms, and veggies served sizzling in a hot stone pot.

Shik Do Rock is a great little neighborhood Korean place we go to all the time. The steam rises from the bowl as the veggies cook. Stir in some not-so-hot sauce, toss it around with a long metal spoon, and let the anticipation build as it’s still way too hot to eat. Before the main meal arrives, the waitress brings six or seven little side dishes to the table. In addition to kimchee, there are two kinds of sprouts, and yam noodles, which are my favorite. I also like the barley tea they serve.

I take work colleagues and Korean visitors there when they’re visiting from out of town, and they all really like it too. It’s also a great place to go before a movie at the Albany Twin.

About the Authors

Ken and Kathryn are the authors of VegJapan, a vegetarian TravelBlog in Japan.


Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Myspace button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Flickr button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button Youtube button