Buon Appetito has been one of the classiest Hayward restaurants for some time now. Amidst all the good things I’ve head over the past many years, this was my first visit. My conclusion? It was great. In short, the menu had many delicious meat-less choices, the decor was exquisite, and the food was very good. The only problem? The damn place is on A Street in Hayward.
Let’s talk for a moment about how I love Hayward. I’m from Hayward, born and raised. It seems to me that it does a person no good to walk around all day squawking about how horrible his or her hometown is, especially when he or she currently is residing in said hometown. I would be continuously disgruntled if, for example, my feathers were ruffled every time the bass on the stereo in the adjacent vehicle was overriding the Regina Spektor playing in my car. Or, if I were upset by the ever expanding stretch of out-of-business car lots on Mission Boulevard. Or, if I felt threatened by late night, spontaneous, car-side dance parties at the Chevron station near Jackson Street. If it bothered me when I am stared down by the patrons at the local Food Maxx, then it would make my life a bit difficult. Instead, I try to embrace the run down shopping centers, to smile sincerely at the Walgreen’s checker despite his lack of front teeth, and to dodge the folks trying to sell me things outside my neighborhood Lucky store with gusto and without remorse. And I try to be home, or far from it, before dark.
My point is: A Street sucks. It’s old, it’s run down, and it’s not nice. There’s the new Lucky shopping center which, except for aforementioned jerks who are ALWAYS THERE pedaling something outside the front doors (I just want to go shopping, and I thought that would have been fairly clear by the fact that I’ve pulled up to a grocery store*), has added a splash of modernity to this otherwise bereft stretch of downtown. But the rest of A Street, from Foothill to Hesperian has been getting progressively older and crummier since I was a child. So to come back to my originally intended point, this is an unexpected place for such a nice restaurant.
Back to the topic at hand. Once you park your car (lock the doors), trudge up the sidewalk, and open the door to Buon Appetito, you suddenly enter another world. It’s a world with clean floors, fun Italian music, fresh food, and *gasp!* tablecloths. It’s a place made for another town, is what it is. But, alas, Buon Appetito has chosen to grace Hayward with its presence, and for that I am grateful.
The inside of Buon Appetito looks really great. Everything is clean and classy, and the newest addition of the bar area makes it a lot more spacious and multi-purpose. The service is prompt and helpful; our waiter could pronounce all the things on the menu that I asked him about. The food is made by a chef with (assumingly) actual culinary training. And it tastes like it too – no alfredo sauce from a jar here. They know what they’re doing at Buon Appetito.
Since my mom ordered the Ravioli con Pomodoro e Limone: fresh ravioli pasta filled with spinach, Swiss chard, pine nuts & ricotta cheese topped with a lemon cream sauce – which I secretly wanted, I chose the Turtei di Zucca (I pointed to the menu instead of risking trying to pronounce that word): home-made ravioli pasta filled with roasted butternut squash & ricotta cheese topped with a cream sage sauce. Boyfriend ordered one of the specials: Pasta Rustica, which was ear-shaped pasta with potatoes, onions, and fontina cheese, served crispy (I was intrigued by this, I’ll admit). Oh yeah, and while you wait, they provide bread slices with heavenly garlic spread:
My ravioli was very good; I chose the cream sauce (the more popular sauce), though I also had a choice of a browned butter sauce (I wasn’t feeling adventurous). My mom’s ravioli was also delicious – the cream sauce on this pasta is pure perfection.
Boyfriend’s pasta was good – the crispy-ness made it interesting. Since it was not completely doused in a cream sauce, I didn’t love it quite as much (go figure), but it was good. And it looked pretty.
They offered dessert but we declined, thought I’m sure it would have been good. The price of the dishes is a bit above the norm for Hayward, our pasta dishes were running on the order of $14 a plate. So, it’s not cheap, but you get what you pay for, and it’s not horribly expensive either. The meat dishes are a bit more expensive (as meat dishes are wont to be), but the salads are reasonably priced and so are the cocktails, of which a plentiful variety is offered. I wish they had a happy hour or some early dinner specials to get people in the door before 6pm, but it’s a perfect place for a truly nice dinner in Hayward.
And hey, if you need a contractor, notary, and a lawyer, there’s a one stop shop right across the street. Gotta love Hayward.
*Oh right, I’m not bitter, I forgot for a second.
Uncle Jeffrey says
Glad you discovered this place! I like the food, but find the lack of one single Italian there to be a little disconcerting. I mean, an Italian restaurant where all the waiters and cooks are Mexican? I’m not denying that it’s a good restaurant, or that the service is excellent, but it’s the same feeling I had at Schroeder’s in San Francisco when i realized the place was owned and operated by Egyptians…
I’ve always said that I don’t care who’s making it, if the food’s good then I like it. And our waiter was convincingly Italian-esque – he had me fooled at least, and pronounced the menu items in what sounded like good Italian. Plus, you don’t need to be of Italian descent to learn to make good Italian food…
Uncle Jeffrey says
Of course, you are quite right, but one will sometimes go to a restaurant in search of a national ambiance, a desire to be surrounded by the culture and people of another country. I have no doubt that anyone of sufficient talent can prepare food of any country one chooses, but imagine a Chinese restaurant in which not one single Chinese person works–wouldn’t that give you at least a second’s pause?
I guess I don’t ever go to restaurants and pay much attention to the nationality of the employees. I agree the taste and quality are more important than the nationality of the cooks or waiters. I don’t think I have ever seen a Chinese restaurant without Chinese employees, though. No one else knows how to cook that stuff right. Would you give a second’s pause going to a BBQ rib restaurant that had no black people working there?
Uncle Jeffrey says
Well, when I was in Brownwood, John took me to Lemon’s which was a white-people kind of rib joint. It was pretty good, too. So, believe me, BBQ is not limited to one group of people. BTW, went to Buon Appetitolast night, and it was excellent, as ever.
Nice! I sort of want to go back just looking at my pictures again 🙂
And yeah, it’s nice to have the food at a place match the nationality of the people serving it to me, but that’s just a visual judgment thing. I suppose the real value of food should be judged with eyes closed, though we always do succumb to our visual perceptions to some extent. Either way, good food is good food! Mmmmm…ravioli…