Mr. K and I enjoyed dinner here recently to celebrate our anniversary (19 years together) and my birthday, which fall on the same date. We decided to check out Lungomare, which opened earlier this year by local restaurant impresario Chris Pastena, who is also chef co-owner of Chop-Bar and Tribune Tavern in Oakland. Lungomare is located in Jack London Square overlooking the estuary, in the location that was formerly Miss Pearl’s Jam House and Jack’s Bistro before that. The patio is sheltered from the wind with glass windows along the perimeter and we enjoyed a fine view from our table.
The northern Italian menu is influenced by Ligurian coastal cuisine and the flavors of Tuscany. Executive chef Craig DiFonzo, has traveled extensively in Italy and is known for having great skills with housemade pasta and pizza. We began with a plate of local Halibut with fermented garlic ($8) from the Crudo menu. Halibut is a lean fish with a dense firm texture that is sublime when drenched with fruity olive oil and infused with the strong flavor from the slice of black garlic on top and enhanced with tiny bursts of flavor from the flakes of sea salt.
The Burrata cheese with house smoked salmon and parmesan rye crackers ($11) was delightful. The rich creamy cheese complimented the silky smooth, lusciously buttery slices of salmon on the crunchy, savory crackers.
The salmon was velvety tender, the thin transparent slices looked like Dale Chihuly art on my cracker.
One of our favorite dishes was the Mussels with borlata beans, sliced garlic, housemade chorizo with white wine, served with a long crunchy bruschetta ($11). The broth was a bright orange colored, it was so delicious that I asked for some bread to dunk in. They dropped off a couple of pieces of tender focaccia with a dish of olive oil with balsamic and I was in bread dunking heaven.
Mr. K wanted to try the Squid Ink Chitarra ($16), which refers to the guitar-like chitarra board that is used to make the thin, squared-off spaghetti strands. The noodles were dark and chewy, tossed with clams, tesa (a type of pork belly that is similar to pancetta), garlic and chile. The flavors were smoky and delicious with the dense, burly noodles.
We decided to order one of the two whole fish options and had the Daurade ($25), which is also known as sea bream or Tai in Japanese. It was described to us as having a delicate flavor with a rich and fluffy buttery texture and that it had been flown in from the mediterranean. Just look at those teeth!
It was brought to our table whole, and then whisked back to the kitchen to fillet and debone, and returned with the head and topped with scoops of a delicious sweet and savory Sauce Agricole made with olive oil, roasted sweet peppers, pistachios, and slices of garlic.
I loved the salty crispy skin and the flaky flesh was fluffy and juicy at the same time, absolutely lip smackingly delicious. I gnawed on the crispy fatty bits off the head…
We opted out on dessert, because Mr. K had made a stop for some mini cakes from Cocola Bakery in San Jose
The Tiramisu is my favorite, rich creamy and pillowy goodness.
Afterwards, we agreed that our meal was very good, the seafood was all really fresh and well prepared. The service felt a bit uncoordinated, the host and some of the servers felt like they were new and not confident with what they were doing. Our official waitress was excellent although we did have to flag someone down a couple times during our meal. We definitely will be back, I want to check out their brunch menu which looks very interesting, and their $30 Sunday supper. It’s a great big location, but was fairly empty. We just hope that with influx of some great new restaurants that Jack London Square will finally become a destination for the masses.