Review: Tomodachi Sushi Bistro

Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value: 3/5
Times Visited: One  ♦   Will I Return?: Absolutely

When I first had a good look at Tomodachi, located between Sizzler and the random Chinese restaurant on the corner of Middle on Hesperian, I could have sworn it was not there.  I’ve lived in Hayward for many years and have never seen Tomodachi.  My sister, in response to the suggestion of having dinner there, insisted that we were thinking of the Sizzler, just as I did.  I’m not sure why it blends into that long-lived Toys R Us shopping center, but it sort of just gets lost in the mess to me.

Which is why I need to post about it.  This place should not be overlooked.  It should be bursting with business on every night.  In my opinion, Hayward has a deficiency in the way of good Japanese restaurants.  I do not claim to have patronized them all (if you know a good one, tell me!), but the ones I have attended were less than impressive (save Naked Fish, which was decent).  Tomodachi has taken the lead by a mile so far…. 

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Review: Banchero’s

Update: Banchero’s is now closed.

Atmosphere: 2/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value: 3/5
Times Visited:  A million   ♦   Will I Return?: Anything for Family

You know how every town has that restaurant that’s been around since the beginning of time?  Banchero’s is that restaurant in Hayward (one of them, at least).  The painted exterior boasts that this place was established in 1948, and I will not contest them on that.  I’m also fairly certain that the façade, the tables and chairs, along with every fixture and most of the gracious and wise employees are from right around then as well.  And, let’s face it, they’re all hanging in there…. 

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Review: Oliveto (Cafe)

Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value: 2/5
Times Visited: One  ♦   Will I Return?: Not Likely

Oliveto is a fancy cafe and restaurant in Oakland, just off Highway 24, that has a bit of a reputation.  It’s a bit fancier than I normally shell out for,  but my friends had heard good things so we went to check it out.

The facility is on a corner lot on College Avenue just near a Bart station and it’s signage does not lend itself well to being seen in the daytime.  We arrived in three separate cars and no one saw it on the first try.  It has a larger (though I didn’t see the extent) restaurant on the 2nd floor and a very small cafe on the ground floor with an even smaller amount of outdoor seating.  We had wanted to try the restaurant proper but found that it was not open for lunch on Sundays.  So we settled for the cafe…. 

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Review: Pyzano’s Pizzeria

Update: Pyzano’s is now closed.

Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value: 3/5
Times Visited: A Few  ♦   Will I Return?: Probably

Pyzano’s has somewhat of a cult following in the Hayward/Castro Valley area, and it always has.  I’m not sure when this place opened up, but it’s not a chain and it’s owned by 9 Time World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani, who has tossed pizzas with the likes of Jay Leno, Oprah, Emeril, and all over the Food Network.  He’s apparently quite good.

But with all this hype came a bit of a letdown for me.  I haven’t been to Pyzano’s in years and forgot that the atmosphere of the place is just your run of the mill pizza joint.  But the prices aren’t – you’re paying for gourmet here for sure.   I thought (read: was hoping) that with all the fancy pizza twirling, there’d be something more than order-at-the-counter, standard-leather-booths-and-rickety-tables, serve-yourself-soda-machine, and grocery-store-floor-tiling.  Seriously, I thought they might have put some effort into posh, above-and-beyond decor, and maybe even table service.  Apparently that’s not their style – moving on…. 

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Review: California Gyro and Pizza

Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited: Two  ♦   Will I Return?: Yes…(it’s close to where I work)

This seemingly tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant is just near the corner of Mission and Industrial in Hayward, not 200 feet from the Burger King that’s been on the north-west side of that corner for a very long time.  It used to be a plethora of other restaurants that apparently haven’t made it to 2010 for one reason or another.  I surmise that one reason is likely location – it’s just in a bad place.  There aren’t hardly any businesses around (especially since the cherished Holiday Bowl across the street closed its doors a few years ago), and it’s not really a “take a walk around the block” sort of residential area.  Hence there are few folks in that area looking for food that doesn’t have a drive thru…. 

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Review: La Piñata

Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited: One   ♦   Will I Return?: Sure

La Piñata opened its first restaurant in Hayward in 1983 and has since expanded to five other Bay Area locations.  Apparently they are doing quite well.  We patronized the original Hayward location the other day, and were a bit surprised by what we found.

This restaurant is tiny.  Like, the size of my mom’s living room tiny.  I counted 14 tables in the whole joint, and that’s with very little walking room in between.  When we arrived it was packed.  Note to readers, 6.30pm on a Friday is actually quite busy for La Piñata.  Tons of people already seemed to have gotten the message and were traipsing in and out procuring take-away.  Good call.  But we were committed to a dine-in dinner, so we stood in wait for a table…. 

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