Food evolves. Or rather, our perception of ethnic foods changes as we become more familiar with it, and as our valuation of food changes. Where once, eating at a Chinese restaurant in America meant chop suey and sweet and sour pork, these days ma po dou fu and general tso's chicken are dishes much more common to menus. Likewise, the Italian restaurant in America has changed. (And this is not the node in which to discuss the evolution of pizza.) Once the neighborhood eye-taal-lee-en restaurant was characterized by the red checkered tablecloth, a side of spaghetti with every entrée, and Chianti that came in bottles adorned with raffia basketwork. In these enlightened days, we identify Italian restaurants by the region they purport to represent, and expect the menu to include primi, secondi, dolce, and insalata.
Francesco's Restaurant is an old style Italian restaurant in Oakland, California. Located just outside the Oakland Airport, on the corner of Pardee Drive and Hegenberger Road. It was established by Josephine, affectionately known as "Mama Bargiacchi", and her son Dewey Bargiacchi in 1968. Both were successful restaurateurs in the Oakland area.
A red, white, and green awning covers a walkway through a lawn with statuary from the parking lot to the front door. The walls of the massive foyer are covered with photographs of the airfield and airplanes. The main dining room and a small bar stand on opposite sides of this foyer. (And at this point it feels like I am hacking out a room_desc for a MUD.) The main dining room has large comfy booths, lots of dark wood panelling and screens, and hanging plants, but no red-checkered tablecloths.
The menu consists of classics of Italian cooking: spaghetti, rigatoni with meat sauce, fettuccini in cream sauce, lasagna, cannelloni, et cetera. Salads may be requested to be served before or after the meal. They also serve omelets and burgers all day.
I picked up some friends at the airport a couple weeks ago and we went to Francesco's for dinner. We all ordered drinks to start, which were rather cheap. Then salads, which were quite impressive. The caesar was tossed at the table, the tomato with anchovies and onions was large, the hearts of romaine was a huge portion. I ordered the veal cannelloni, which was only so-so. One of my friends went with pesto over linguini, and the other had the half and half of spaghetti and ravioli. All told, the food and service were good, if uninspired.
As Tessio said of Louis' Italian Restaurant in the Bronx :
It's perfect for us. A small family place, good food. Everyone minds his business. It's perfect.