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.