Massimo’s, Old Jerusalem, Baker Street Bistro: Check, Please! Bay Area reviews

Massimo’s, Old Jerusalem, Baker Street Bistro: Check, Please! Bay Area reviews


  Announcer:
A KQED TELEVISION PRODUCTION.  Man: IT’S LIKE
HOLY MOTHER OF COMFORT FOOD. Woman: THROW IT DOWN.
IT’S NOODLE CRACK. Patel: YOU HAVE TO BE READY FOR
THE HEART ATTACK ON A PLATTER. Crowell:
OKAY, I’M THE BACON GUY. Man: OH, I JUST DID A JIG
EVERY TIME I DIPPED INTO IT. Man #2: IT JUST
COMPLETELY BLEW MY MIND. Woman:
IT FELT LIKE I HAD A MOUTHFUL
OF RAW VEGETABLES AND DRY DOUGH. Sbrocco: OH, PLEASE.
I WANT THE DESSERT FIRST! [ LAUGHS ]
I TOLD HIM HE HAD TO WAIT.     Sbrocco: SEE? [ LAUGHS ]
HI. I’M LESLIE SBROCCO. WELCOME TO
“CHECK, PLEASE! BAY AREA,” THE SHOW WHERE
REGULAR BAY AREA RESIDENTS REVIEW AND TALK ABOUT
THEIR FAVORITE RESTAURANTS. NOW, WE HAVE THREE GUESTS, AND EACH ONE RECOMMENDS
ONE OF THEIR FAVORITE SPOTS, AND THE OTHER TWO GO CHECK THEM
OUT TO SEE WHAT THEY THINK. THIS WEEK, CROSS CULTURAL
EDUCATOR AND DANCE TEACHER REBECCA CERVANTES
HAS RHYTHM AND ALL THE MOVES. FROM HIP-HOP TO HULA AND SALSA
TO SWING, SHE TWIRLS AT THE THOUGHT
OF PALESTINIAN FLAVORS DANCING ON HER TONGUE. AND STANFORD PROFESSOR AND FORMER PICKY EATER,
CHRIS GERBEN, HAILS FROM DETROIT,
NOT KNOWN FOR ITS GASTRONOMY, BUT HE MARRIED INTO THE BAY AREA
FOOD CULTURE AND NOW KEEPS HIS NOSE IN A MENU
INSTEAD OF A BOOK. AND EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
VICTORIA CLINTON STILL COVETS HER GIRL SCOUT
BADGE FOR COOKING. LONG SPLATTERED WITH FOOD, IT PROVES HER COMMITMENT
TO FAMILY RECIPES, JUST LIKE HER FAVORITE PLACE
TO EAT WHERE NONA’S CLASSIC DISHES
HAVE BEEN SERVED UP FOR THE LAST 35 YEARS. ON MOWRY AVENUE IN FREMONT,
IT’S CALLED MASSIMO’S. Rinetti: I GO TO MANY
RESTAURANTS AROUND THE BAY AREA, AND I GO OUT TO LEARN
AND GET NEW IDEAS. I’VE NEVER BEEN SATISFIED
WITH STATUS QUO. I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO IMPROVE
THE RESTAURANT IN ANY WAY POSSIBLE. HI, MY NAME IS BILL RINETTI. I’M THE OWNER OF MASSIMO’S
RESTAURANT HERE IN FREMONT.   WE ARE AN ITALIAN STEAKHOUSE. WE HAVE WONDERFUL PASTA DISHES, BEAUTIFUL STEAKS AND CHOPS,
FRESH SEAFOOD. WE HAVE OUR SPECIALTIES
THAT WE CREATE TABLESIDE SUCH AS OUR CAESAR SALAD,
CHERRIES JUBILEE, OUR BANANAS FOSTER. WE HAVE AN EXTENSIVE WINE LIST
AND MORE. MY LATE FATHER OPENED
THIS RESTAURANT IN 1976, AND WE’VE BEEN IN FREMONT,
THE SAME LOCATION, ALL 38 YEARS. WE NAMED THE RESTAURANT
AFTER MY GREAT-GRANDFATHER, MASSIMO RINETTI. THE WORD “MASSIMO” IS SIMILAR TO
THE ENGLISH WORD “MAXIMUM,” WHICH, IN MY OPINION,
MEANS “GREAT.” SO IT’S OUR GOAL HERE TO BE
GREAT AT EVERYTHING WE DO. PEOPLE COME BACK
AGAIN AND AGAIN, BECAUSE WE TREAT PEOPLE
LIKE THEY’RE FAMILY. A LOT OF OUR CUSTOMERS
ARE NOW OUR FRIENDS. WE’VE HAD RELATIONSHIPS
FOR YEARS WITH THEM. WE HAVE STAFF MEMBERS THAT HAVE
BEEN HERE OVER 25 YEARS. OUR FOOD IS EXCELLENT, OUR SERVICE IS EXCELLENT,
AS WELL, AND WE GIVE THEM
A GREAT EXPERIENCE.   Sbrocco: SO, VICTORIA,
THIS IS A PLACE THAT YOU’VE BEEN GOING TO FOR
MANY, MANY YEARS, HAVEN’T YOU? Clinton:
YES, ABOUT 30. Sbrocco: ABOUT 30! YOU’RE NOT OLD ENOUGH TO HAVE
BEEN GOING FOR 30 YEARS. Clinton:
WHY, THANK YOU, LESLIE. Sbrocco: WHAT IS IT THAT DRIVES
YOU BACK AND BACK? Clinton: IT’S ALWAYS COMFORTABLE
AND FAMILIAR. I’VE NEVER HAD A BAD EXPERIENCE. Sbrocco: AND WHAT’S
YOUR FAVORITE DISH? Clinton: MY VERY FAVORITE
IS THE MARINATED VEAL CHOP. IT’S REALLY THICK,
IT’S HUGE ON YOUR PLATE, IT HAS A WONDERFUL MUSHROOM
SAUCE ON TOP OF IT. YOU CUT INTO IT — IT’S TENDER,
IT’S SUCCULENT, IT’S JUICY. IT HAS GARLIC MASHED POTATOES AND ALWAYS-FRESH VEGETABLES
SAUTÈED WITH A LITTLE GARLIC. YOU JUST WANT TO LICK
YOUR PLATE. IT’S DELICIOUS. Gerben: WE DIDN’T LICK OUR
PLATES, BUT IT WAS VERY CLOSE. WE ACTUALLY ENDED UP GETTING
THE SPAGHETTI-AND-CRAB DISH, BECAUSE IT WAS CRAB SEASON
WHEN WE WENT. AND YOU WOULD EASILY PAY
TWICE AS MUCH FOR THIS DISH IN SAN FRANCISCO. THIS WAS BIG CHUNKS OF CRAB IN ABOUT TWO STICKS OF
MELTED BUTTER OVER PASTA. THERE’S NOTHING TO DISLIKE
ABOUT THAT. SO THAT WAS OUR MAIN DISH
FOR THE NIGHT. Sbrocco: AND I GREW UP
IN THE MIDWEST. YOU KNOW,
WE HAD THESE STEAKHOUSES AND THESE CLASSIC ITALIAN PLACES THAT EVERYBODY WOULD GO TO,
RIGHT, FOR THEIR PROMS AND THEIR
WEDDINGS AND THEIR HOMECOMING. Gerben: THERE’S NO DOUBT
THIS IS A PLACE FOR GROUPS. WHEN WE WERE THERE, WE HAD, WITHIN 10 FEET OF US,
TWO GROUPS, AND IT WAS GROUPS OF 10 TO 25
PEOPLE ON A THURSDAY NIGHT, AND THEY WERE HAVING A BLAST. WE ACTUALLY FELT BAD THERE WAS
ONLY TWO OF US THERE THAT NIGHT. Cervantes:
I WENT WITH A BIG GROUP, AND WE TRIED TONS OF DISHES. AND THE STAR OF THE EVENING,
BY FAR, WAS THE CAESAR SALAD
MADE TABLESIDE. AMAZING — TABLESIDE,
EVERYTHING RAW INGREDIENTS, PERFECTLY BALANCED FLAVORS FROM THE ANCHOVY TO THE EGG,
PERFECTLY CODDLED, TO JUST WATCHING HIM
DO HIS WORK. THAT WAS AMAZING. I HAD THE SEA-BASS
SALTIMBOCCA — AMAZING, DELICIOUS. THE SEA BASS WAS NOT OVERPOWERED
BY THE PRISCIUTTO, BUT IT WAS JUST
PERFECTLY SEASONED, PERFECTLY WELL-DONE WITH SOME VEGETABLES ON THE SIDE
THAT WERE PERFECTLY AL DENTE. IT WAS JUST DELICIOUS. I THINK BECAUSE THE CAESAR SALAD
WAS SO AMAZING, THE SALTIMBOCCA
WAS ALSO DELICIOUS, BUT THAT ONE JUST
STAYED WITH ME. Sbrocco: IT WAS A STANDOUT
WHEN YOU GOT THAT. Cervantes:
AND THE FETTUCCINI CARBONARA, THAT [SIGHS] SO DELICIOUSLY
CHEESY AND BACONY AND JUST EVERYTHING YOU WANTED. WE ATE SO MUCH,
WE WERE GLUTTONS. Clinton: A REAL
HEARTY-BUT-NOT-HEAVY PASTA IS THEIR SIGNATURE
RIGATONI ALA MASSIMO. IT’S GOT GROUND VEAL
AND MUSHROOMS, FRESH TOMATOES, A REAL LIGHT,
CREAM SHERRY SAUCE, AND IT’S DELICIOUS. THEY GIVE YOU ENOUGH TO HAVE
TWO MEALS OUT OF IT AND JUST KIND OF SOP UP
THE SAUCE WITH YOUR BREAD. YOU DON’T WANT IT TO END.
IT’S DELICIOUS. Sbrocco:
AND THESE ARE RECIPES — YOU KNOW, THEY’VE BEEN
IN THAT SPACE FOR A LONG TIME AND HAVE A REAL TRADITION. Clinton: THEY’RE CONSISTENTLY
THE SAME AND ALWAYS WONDERFUL. Gerben: THAT’S WHAT WE NOTICED
WHEN WE WENT THERE, ACTUALLY. CALL IT TRADITIONAL,
CALL IT OLD-SCHOOL, CALL IT, YOU KNOW,
MENUS OF YESTERYEAR. WHEN YOU GET CHICKEN PARMESAN
ON A MENU, OR WE GOT CHICKEN PICCATA, WHICH IS, YOU KNOW, CHICKEN
WITH A KIND OF GRAVY SAUCE AND THEN TOO MANY CAPERS
TO COUNT, IT REALLY DID TAKE ME BACK
TO SPECIAL OCCASIONS WHEN I WAS GROWING UP
IN THE MIDWEST, WHERE THAT WAS THE ONLY THING
ON THE MENU. SO TO SEE IT BACK ON A MENU IN A FOOD AREA
LIKE SAN FRANCISCO WAS REALLY NOSTALGIC FOR ME, AND I REALLY ENJOYED
SEEING THAT AGAIN. Sbrocco: AND THERE’S TWO,
SORT OF, SEPARATE AREAS THAT YOU CAN DINE, RIGHT? Cervantes: OH, YES.
AND WE HAD RESERVATIONS FOR THE DINING ROOM, BUT I ADDED AN EXTRA PERSON
TO OUR PARTY, SO THEY CHANGED US
TO THE LOUNGE, WHICH I WAS SO HAPPY. ‘CAUSE THE LOUNGE
HAS THIS NICE FIREPLACE. THE LOUNGE HAS THE MORE
LIVELY ATMOSPHERE. THE LOUNGE WAS JUST FUN. Sbrocco:
AND WHAT ABOUT YOU, CHRIS? Gerben: IT WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF
A PARKING LOT IN A STRIP MALL, SO I WAS ACTUALLY
KIND OF CONFUSED ABOUT WHAT KIND OF
PLACE THIS WAS. FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS, IT TOOK US TWO HOURS TO GET
THERE FROM SAN FRANCISCO. AND WE ACTUALLY HAD OUR
6-MONTH-OLD DAUGHTER WITH US WHO WAS IN TOW, AND WE SHOWED UP AND THE PLACE
WAS PACKED ON A THURSDAY NIGHT. SO, THEY SAID,
“DO YOU HAVE RESERVATIONS?” I SAID, “I DIDN’T EVEN THINK
ABOUT RESERVATIONS,” AND I KIND OF PANICKED, ‘CAUSE I
THOUGHT, “WE DROVE ALL THIS WAY. WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO NOW?” NEXT I KNOW, THEY KIND OF USHERED US
INTO A PRIVATE BACK ROOM WITH ABOUT TWO OR THREE
OTHER GROUPS, AND WE HAD JUST
ALMOST WHITE-GLOVE SERVICE THROUGHOUT THE REST
OF THE NIGHT. SO, THE FACT WAS THAT WE DID
DRIVE AROUND THE PARKING LOT SEVERAL TIMES TO FIGURE OUT
WHERE WAS THE ENTRANCE. WE WERE ON THE BACKSIDE
OF THE RESTAURANT. BUT ONCE WE GOT IN, IT WAS LIKE WE WERE TRANSPORTED
TO A WHOLE DIFFERENT WORLD. I AKIN IT TO KIND OF AN ISLAND, AN OASIS IN THE MIDDLE
OF THIS FREMONT PARKING LOT. Sbrocco: YOU KNOW DESSERTS.
WE GOT TO TALK DESSERTS. Clinton: THE TABLESIDE COOKING
REALLY IS SPECTACULAR, TO SEE THE FLAMES GO UP AND JUST HOW WONDERFUL IT TASTES DRIPPING OVER YOUR ICE CREAM. MY FAVORITE IS THE TIRAMISU. Sbrocco: OH. Clinton: THEY ACTUALLY BROUGHT
THE RECIPE BACK FROM ITALY. IT’S THE BEST I’VE EVER HAD, AND THEY GET RAVE REVIEWS ON IT. AND THEY’RE VERY PROUD OF IT. Cervantes: I WANTED THE CHERRIES
JUBILEE AND THE BANANAS FOSTER, BUT I GOT OVERRULED. WE HAD TO HAVE
THE BANANAS FOSTER, WHICH WAS AMAZING, WITH THE FLAMES
AND THE CINNAMON SPARKLES, AND IT’S JUST SO — AND NOW I HAVE TO GO BACK
AND HAVE THAT TIRAMISU. Clinton: YEAH! Gerben: THAT WAS THE ONLY
MISFIRE FOR US WAS THE TIRAMISU,
WHICH WAS FINE. IT WAS WELL-SUITED
TO THE END OF THE MEAL. THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE TASTED A LITTLE BIT LIKE
HERSHEY’S CHOCOLATE SAUCE, WHERE IT’S KIND OF LIKE
A SEMI-SWEET, BUT MORE OF, LIKE,
A MILK-CHOCOLATE FLAVOR, WHICH WAS TOTALLY FINE, BUT EVERYTHING ELSE WAS
SO DECADENT AND SO WONDERFUL. BUT THAT WAS THE ONLY THING
WHERE WE LEFT OFF, SAYING, “WE PROBABLY DIDN’T NEED
THAT PARTICULAR ONE.” BUT WE WERE SO FULL BY
THAT POINT, IT DIDN’T MATTER. Sbrocco: ALL RIGHT,
THIS WAS YOUR SPOT, VICTORIA. WRAP IT UP FOR US. Clinton: IT’S MY ALL-TIME,
LONG-TIME FAVORITE, ALWAYS FABULOUS,
AND BELLISIMO, MASSIMO. Sbrocco: [ CHUCKLES ]
ALL RIGHT, AND, REBECCA? Cervantes: I WOULD SAY
FOR OLD-SCHOOL ITALIAN DINING AND ATTENTIVE SERVICE AND DELICIOUS
STANDARD-ITALIAN CUISINE, MASSIMO’S IS THE PLACE TO GO. Sbrocco: OKAY, AND, CHRIS? Gerben: AND I WOULD SAY, DON’T
LET THE STRIP MALL FOOL YOU. FOR A TASTE OF YESTERYEAR, MASSIMO’S IS GREAT FOR GROUPS
AND FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS. Sbrocco: ALL RIGHT, IF YOU WOULD
LIKE TO TRY MASSIMO’S…   AND THE AVERAGE TAB FOR DINNER WITHOUT DRINKS IS AROUND $45.   REBECCA’S LOCATION OFFERS UP
A TASTE OF THE HOLY LAND IN THE HEART OF THE MISSION. THE LONG, NARROW EATERY SECRETS AWAY BIG, BOLD,
MIDDLE-EASTERN FLAVORS. ON MISSION IN SAN FRANCISCO, LOOK CAREFULLY FOR OLD
JERUSALEM RESTAURANT. Almukdad: BACK IN 2005, MY BOSS BROUGHT ME A PLATE
OF HUMMUS WITH MEAT. IT WAS THE BEST THING
THAT I EVER HAD. I BECAME A FRIEND
WITH THE OWNER. WE DECIDED TO GO PARTNERS. HI, MY NAME IS HAJEM ALMUKDAD. I’M A CO-OWNER AND THE MANAGER
OF OLD JERUSALEM RESTAURANT. WE’RE VERY KNOWN
FOR THE HUMMUS WE MAKE. THE HUMMUS JUST REMINDS ME OF THE TIME I USED TO GO
WITH MY FAMILY TO THE FIELD
TO COLLECT CHICKPEAS. OUR FRESH PITA JUST REMINDS ME WITH MY CHILDHOOD SITTING NEXT
TO MY MOM, BAKING THE BREAD. OUR STUFFED FALAFEL
YOU CAN’T FIND IN ANY OTHER MIDDLE-EASTERN
RESTAURANT. EVERYTHING WE MAKE HERE,
WE MAKE IT FROM SCRATCH. INGREDIENTS HAVE TO BE HALAL, WHICH MEANS THE ANIMAL
HAS TO BE RAISED WITH KINDNESS
TILL ITS FINAL MOMENT. OUR CHEF, WE BROUGHT HIM
FROM BACK HOME, SINCE WE OPENED, AND HE’S STILL WITH US
STILL TODAY. WE NEVER CHANGE THE MENU. IT’S THE SAME MENU
SINCE DAY ONE. WE HAVE A LOT
OF LOYAL CUSTOMERS. THEY COME FROM ALL OVER
BAY AREA, FROM SACRAMENTO,
EVEN FROM LOS ANGELES. THE MINUTE THEY COME IN, WE LIKE HIM TO FEEL LIKE HE’S SITTING IN THE OLD CITY
OF JERUSALEM, AND YOU SEE THAT BY THE ART
AND THE TASTY FOOD.   Sbrocco:
ALL RIGHT, REBECCA, THIS IS A FAMILY-FRIENDLY,
AFFORDABLE SPOT THAT YOU FIND A LOT OF REGULARS,
ISN’T IT? Cervantes: UH-HUH.
EVERY TIME I GO IN THERE, IT’S FILLED WITH PEOPLE FROM ALL
DIFFERENT NATIONALITIES, ALL DIFFERENT CULTURES,
RELIGIONS. I TALKED TO MY NEIGHBOR. HE SAID HE WAS HAVING
AN INTERFAITH MEETING THERE. [ Laughing ] HE THOUGHT IT WAS
THE PERFECT PLACE. Sbrocco: THAT’S RIGHT. Cervantes: AND IT IS. THE SERVICE IS CASUAL
BUT VERY NICE. AND I JUST FEEL LIKE
AS SOON AS YOU WALK IN, YOU’RE JUST TREATED LIKE FAMILY. EVERYONE IN THE RESTAURANT
TREATS EACH OTHER LIKE FAMILY. WHENEVER I GO THERE
WITH MY TODDLER, EVERYONE STARTS ENGAGING
WITH US. AND YOU HAVE DELICIOUS FOOD FROM THEIR HOUSEMADE OLIVES
AND TURNIPS THAT THEY SERVE
WITH THE WARMED PITA BREAD. THEY ACTUALLY BROUGHT THE RECIPE
FOR THEIR PITA BREAD OVER. THEY DON’T BAKE IT IN-HOUSE, BUT THEY HAVE
THEIR MOM’S RECIPE. MY THING THAT I’VE NEVER BEEN
ABLE TO GET AWAY FROM BECAUSE IT’S SO CHEAP
AND DELICIOUS AND DIFFERENT IS THE CHICKEN SHAWARMA, BECAUSE THEIR CHICKEN SHAWARMA
IS MARINATED IN YOGURT WITH SOME DIFFERENT
KIND OF SPICES AND LOTS OF TURMERIC, WHICH MAKES IT TURN
BRIGHT YELLOW. AND IT’S SUPER-MOIST. IT’S CHICKEN BREAST ONLY. I FOUND THAT OUT IN MY RESEARCH.
I ALWAYS GET THAT. WELL, I ALSO ALWAYS GET
THE FALAFEL, BECAUSE THEIR FALAFEL
ALSO IS DIFFERENT, BECAUSE IT’S SHAPED LIKE
LITTLE CIGARS AND IT’S PERFECTLY CRISPY
ON THE OUTSIDE, AND NOT GREASY,
AND MOIST ON THE INSIDE, WHICH A LOT OF PLACES, YOU GET A LOT OF
DRIED-OUT FALAFEL. AND I BRANCHED OUT THIS TIME
AND TRIED THE STUFFED FALAFEL, WHICH HAS SUMAC AND PINE NUTS
AND ONION INSIDE. Sbrocco: AND THAT’S
A PALESTINIAN RECIPE THAT ONLY THEY MAKE. SO, DID YOU HAVE THE FALAFEL?
ARE YOU A FALAFEL GUY? Gerben:
I AM A HUGE FALAFEL GUY. AND THE THING ABOUT FALAFEL
IS YOU HAVE TO EAT IT AS SOON AS IT COMES OUT. IT ALMOST BURNS YOUR HANDS, BUT IT’S SO GOOD
AS IT COMES OUT. FOR MULTIPLE ISRAELI
AND PALESTINIAN FRIENDS, THIS IS THE MOST AUTHENTIC PLACE THAT THEY CAN GO TO
IN THE BAY AREA. THE REAL STANDOUT DISH FOR US
WAS THE FETTA WITH MEAT, WHICH WAS KIND OF A GARLICKY,
LEMONY, KIND OF HUMMUS WITH LAMB MEAT OVER TOP,
AND IT WAS BURSTING WITH FLAVOR. I WENT WITH A GROUP
OF FOUR GUYS, AND WE GOT FOUR DIFFERENT
ENTRÈES AND PASSED THEM AROUND. THAT WAS ONE YOU ALWAYS NOTICED
IT KIND OF LINGERED WITH EACH GUY
FOR A LITTLE BIT TOO LONG. I NEEDED TO STEAL IT BACK. SO THAT WAS EASILY THE ONE
THAT USED ALL OF THE PITA THAT THEY GAVE US
TO EAT IT WITH. Sbrocco: AND PEOPLE THINK
IT’S “FETA” AS IN THE CHEESE, BUT IT’S ACTUALLY
THE ARABIC WORD FOR WHEN YOU HAVE HUMMUS MIXED
WITH, SORT OF, PUREED PITA. SO, DON’T GET CONFUSED. AND, VICTORIA, WHAT ABOUT YOU? DID YOU ENJOY YOUR VISIT
TO OLD JERUSALEM? Clinton: I DID.
IT WAS VERY WELCOMING. A LOT OF FAMILY ACTIVITY,
KIDS PLAYING, LIKE YOU SAID, REBECCA. I LOVED THE OLIVES
AND THE TURNIPS WHEN WE SAT DOWN
WITH THE WARM PITA BREAD. IT’S LIKE, “I DIDN’T ORDER THIS.
THIS IS GOOD!” THEY WERE VERY ATTENTIVE,
THE SERVICE WAS NICE, BUT THEY MISSED THE MARK. THEY FORGOT MY FALAFEL. Sbrocco: AW. Clinton: AND I GOT
THE LAMB-AND-BEEF SHAWARMA, AND I THINK IT MIGHT’VE BEEN
BETTER AT LUNCHTIME. AND IT CAME 10 MINUTES
BEFORE MY BOYFRIEND’S FOOD. HE GOT THE CHICKEN SHISH KABAB. IT WAS JUICY, IT WAS DELICIOUS,
IT WAS A LOT OF CHICKEN. THE HUMMUS WAS
A LITTLE UNDERWHELMING. Sbrocco: ARE THEY MISSING
THE MARK WITH THE HUMMUS? Cervantes:
I THINK THE HUMMUS IS GREAT. I LOVE THEIR HUMMUS. Gerben: I ACTUALLY WENT WITH ONE
OF MY BEST FRIENDS, WHO IS PERSIAN,
WHO THOUGHT IT WAS OKAY. SO I THOUGHT IT WAS WONDERFUL, BUT MAYBE I DON’T HAVE
THE QUITE PALETTE FOR IT, BECAUSE HE THOUGHT IT WAS JUST
KIND OF SO-SO FOR THE BAY AREA. Sbrocco:
AND WHAT ABOUT DESSERTS? Cervantes:
THEY HAVE KUNAFA, WHICH, I DON’T KNOW IF YOU GUYS
GOT TO TRY THE KUNAFA… Clinton: I SAW IT.
IT IS INTERESTING. Cervantes:
IT IS VERY INTERESTING. AND I SAID, “OH, MAYBE
IT’S NOT FOR EVERYONE.” BUT IT IS CHEESE
WITH ORANGE-BLOSSOM SYRUP ON IT. Gerben: THAT ORANGE-ISH-NESS
TASTED TO US ALMOST LIKE TOMATO. ALMOST TASTED LIKE A PIZZA,
IN A WAY, WHICH WASN’T WHAT
WE WERE USED TO. Cervantes: AND, ACTUALLY, EVEN
A LITTLE ORANGE FOOD COLORING. THAT MAKES IT BRIGHT ORANGE. AND IT’S PHYLLO DOUGH
THAT’S GROUND UP AND FRIED IN BUTTER
THAT’S PUT ON TOP OF IT. OH, A LITTLE CARDAMOM, TOO. AND I FEEL LIKE
A LITTLE CARDAMOM AT THE END OF YOUR MEAL, IT WAS SO GOOD
TO HELP YOU DIGEST. Sbrocco:
AND IT TAKES DAYS TO MAKE. Cervantes: IT TAKES DAYS. AND THEY’RE THE ONLY PLACE THAT MAKE IT IN-HOUSE
IN THE BAY AREA. I LOVE IT. Sbrocco:
AND DID YOUR SON LOVE IT? Cervantes: MY SON WAS
JUST CHOWING IT DOWN! HE COULDN’T STOP EATING IT,
AND I WAS THE SAME. ACTUALLY, I WAS SO FULL
AT THE END OF THE MEAL, AND, ONCE AGAIN, I WENT,
“WELL, JUST ONE MORE BITE.” Gerben: WE ALSO HAD
A HOUSE SPECIALTY, WHICH, APPARENTLY, THEY TOOK
AWAY AND THEN BROUGHT BACK. AND IT WAS CUSTARD
WRAPPED IN PHYLLO DOUGH, REALLY FLAVORED WITH ROSE WATER, WHICH WAS SO OVERWHELMING THAT IF YOU LIKE ROSE WATER
AND ARE USED TO ROSE WATER, I’M SURE IT’S WONDERFUL. Cervantes: WHICH IS VERY
TRADITIONALLY MIDDLE-EASTERN. Gerben: VERY TRADITIONAL,
EXACTLY. AND THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG
WITH IT WHATSOEVER, BUT IT WAS VERY OVERWHELMING
FOR THAT STAGE OF THE MEAL. AND THEY ALSO HAVE A BAKLAVA, WHICH THEY HAVE
THROUGHOUT THE DAY WHICH WE HAD, WHICH WAS, AGAIN,
VERY TRADITIONAL AND VERY GOOD. Sbrocco: CHRIS, TALK ABOUT
AFFORDABILITY AND PORTION SIZES. Gerben: OH, THIS PLACE
IS BEYOND AFFORDABLE. LIKE I SAID, I WAS THERE
WITH A GROUP OF FOUR GUYS AND HIS INFANT SON. WE ATE AS MUCH AS WE COULD, WE GOT ALL THREE
OF THE DESSERTS, AND WE STILL GOT OFF
FOR ABOUT $20 TO $22 A HEAD. SO WE WENT BACK FULL, HAPPY. Sbrocco: ALL RIGHT,
THIS IS YOUR SPOT. GIVE US A QUICK WRAP-UP. Cervantes: I WOULD SAY,
FOR AUTHENTIC, AFFORDABLE FOOD IN A FAMILY-FRIENDLY
ATMOSPHERE, YOU CAN’T BEAT IT. Sbrocco:
OKAY, AND, VICTORIA? Clinton:
IT WAS FAMILY-FRIENDLY, AND THE SERVICE WAS VERY KIND. Sbrocco: OKAY, AND, CHRIS? Gerben:
AND I AGREE WITH YOU. IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR AUTHENTIC,
CASUAL, MEDITERRANEAN FOOD AND YOU’RE IN THE AREA,
ABSOLUTELY GIVE IT A TRY. Sbrocco:
OKAY, IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO TRY OLD JERUSALEM
RESTAURANT…   AND THE AVERAGE TAB FOR DINNER WITHOUT DRINKS IS AROUND $15. MEAT, MALBEC, TANGO — COULD THERE BE THREE BETTER
WORDS THAN THOSE? NOT WHEN TALKING ABOUT
AMAZING ARGENTINA. ONE OF THE WORLD’S
LARGEST COUNTRIES WITH A 400-YEAR-OLD
WINE HISTORY, IT HAS A DIVERSE RANGE
OF WINES TO ENJOY. PROTECTED BY THE TOWERING
ANDES MOUNTAINS FROM THE PACIFIC OCEAN WEATHER, ARGENTINA’S WINE-GROWING REGIONS
ARE PRIMARILY HIGH AND DRY. SALTA IN THE NORTH, FOR EXAMPLE, HAS VINEYARDS PERCHED AT MORE
THAN 9,000 FEET ABOVE SEA LEVEL. THIS IS WHERE AN AROMATIC WHITE
NAMED TORRONTÈS SHINES. WITH FLORAL AROMAS
AND JUICY FLAVORS, IT’S A WINE TO COMPLEMENT
SPICY FARE BEAUTIFULLY. BUT IT’S MALBEC FROM MENDOZA THAT’S MADE ARGENTINA
A WORLDWIDE PHENOMENON. MENDOZA’S HOME TO ABOUT 80% OF
THE COUNTRY’S WINE PRODUCTION, AND THIS VAST AREA
KISSING THE ANDES OFFERS SUPPLE, VIBRANT MALBECS THAT ARE THE PERFECT ANSWER
TO A BIG OLD STEAK. NOW, ALL I NEED IS TO TANGO.   LOCATED IN COW HOLLOW ACROSS FROM THE SWAYING
EUCALYPTUS TREES OF THE PRESIDIO AND A FEW BLOCKS FROM THE PALACE
OF FINE ARTS, CHRIS’ ROMANTIC HIDEAWAY DELIVERS A PLACE TO COZY UP
TO YOUR DATE FOR A FRENCH GETAWAY
IN SAN FRANCISCO. IT’S BAKER STREET BISTRO. de Betelu: I’M BORN IN BIARRITZ,
THE SOUTHWEST OF FRANCE, AND I START COOKING
WITH MY GRANDMOTHER AND MY MOM. WENT TO CULINARY SCHOOL, AND I OPENED
MY FIRST RESTAURANT. I WAS 19.
MY NAME IS DANEL de BETULU. I’M THE CHEF/OWNER
OF BAKER STREET BISTRO. AFTER A FEW YEARS OF OWNING
THE RESTAURANT, I FALL IN LOVE, WHICH MAKES ME SELL EVERYTHING
IN FRANCE AND MOVE TO AMERICA. I COOK LIKE I LEARNED
WITH MY GRANDMOTHER, WITH HER PASSION,
FRESH PRODUCTS — LOCAL. WE TRY TO BRING THE FRENCH-BISTRO CUISINE
FROM PARIS. WE’RE NOT FANCY AT ALL.
IT’S VERY CASUAL. YOU JUST COME
TO ENJOY A NICE MEAL OR JUST A GLASS OF WINE OUTSIDE. WE CARRY ONLY FRENCH WINE
AT BAKER STREET BISTRO. MY WAITER, CHANTAL,
SHE’S BEEN HERE FOR AS LONG AS BAKER STREET
BISTRO HAS BEEN HERE. EVERYBODY LOVES HER. IF SHE’S NOT HERE ONE DAY, EVERY SINGLE PERSON
WILL PASS THE DOOR, WILL ASK FOR CHANTAL. MY STAFF IN THE KITCHEN
HAS BEEN HERE SINCE THE BEGINNING WITH ME,
AND I CAN SLEEP IN PEACE. I KNOW VICENTE IS HERE — GOOD HELP WITH VICTOR
AND MIGUEL. BAKER STREET BISTRO IS LIKE
TAKING A TRIP IN PARIS. FRENCH FOOD, FRENCH WINE,
FRENCH MUSIC, AUTHENTICITY — THAT’S BAKER STREET BISTRO.   Sbrocco: ALL RIGHT, CHRIS, YOU’RE KIND OF A ROMANTIC GUY,
AREN’T YOU? Gerben:
I LIKE TO THINK SO. Sbrocco: YES, AND YOUR WIFE SAYS
THE SAME THING, I’M SURE. Gerben: SO SHE TELLS ME. Sbrocco: AND THIS IS
YOUR ROMANTIC-GETAWAY SPOT? Gerben: ABSOLUTELY. THE FIRST TIME WE EVER HEARD
ABOUT THIS PLACE WAS A FRIEND AND HIS WIFE
TRYING TO FIND A PLACE AT THE LAST MINUTE
ON VALENTINE’S DAY, AND THEY WALKED RIGHT
INTO THIS NEIGHBORHOOD PLACE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BLOCK
THEY NEVER EVEN NOTICED BEFORE, AND THEY GOT RIGHT IN. SINCE THEN, MY WIFE AND I
AND SEVERAL OTHER FRIENDS HAVE ALL GONE ON VERY ROMANTIC,
VERY INTIMATE DATES THERE. AND IF YOU’RE LUCKY ENOUGH
TO GET ONE OF THE SMALL SEATS WITH THE CUSHIONS
AND THE PILLOWS RIGHT NEXT TO, YOU KNOW, A FOGGED-OFF WINDOW, YOU CAN SIT THERE ALL NIGHT AND JUST STARE
INTO EACH OTHER’S EYES OR HAVE VERY INTIMATE
CONVERSATIONS, AS WELL. Sbrocco: WE’RE ALL LIKE,
“AW, THAT’S SO NICE, CHRIS! YOU’RE SO SWEET.” Gerben: WELL, I THINK
WHAT SEPARATES A BISTRO FROM A RESTAURANT IS THAT
IT REALLY DOES INVITE YOU TO FEEL COMFORTABLE
AND FEEL AT HOME. SO WHEN WE GO,
WE REALLY LIKE TO GET THINGS THAT FEEL WARM AND KIND OF FILL
YOU UP FOR A WINTER’S NIGHT, AS IT WAS WHEN WE
WENT THERE RECENTLY. MY WIFE GOT ONE OF
THE BEST DISHES I EVER HAD IN SAN FRANCISCO, WHICH IS THE BOEUF BOURGUIGNON,
THE BEEF BURGUNDY, WHICH WAS JUST SUCCULENT PIECES
OF MEAT, BIG PIECES OF POTATO AND VEG, AND IN A SAUCE THAT TASTED ALMOST LIKE YOU HAD JUST
POURED A BOTTLE OF WINE RIGHT INTO THE POT. IT WAS ABSOLUTELY SAVORY
AND DELICIOUS. Sbrocco: WITH BOEUF BOURGUIGNON,
YOU NEED LOTS. AND, VICTORIA, WHAT WAS
YOUR EXPERIENCE THERE? Clinton: OH, I LOVED IT. IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL
AND CHARMING, INTIMATE, ROMANTIC. I FELT LIKE I WAS IN PARIS. THE WARM FOOD, THE AMBIANCE — IT WAS MORE THAN I IMAGINED, AND I CAN’T WAIT TO GO BACK. Sbrocco:
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE DISH? Clinton: I HAD
THE CASSOULET TOULOUSAIN — A DUCK CONFIT, THE SAUSAGE,
THE BEANS, THE BACON. WE STARTED WITH THREE BAGUETTES
OF BREAD, BECAUSE THE BREAD WAS SO GOOD! THE FRENCH-ONION SOUP —
TO DIE FOR. LAYERS OF FLAVOR THAT YOU JUST FELT ALL THROUGH
YOUR BODY AS YOU SIPPED IT. OH, I DIDN’T WANT THAT TO END. WE HAD A NICE SALAD — PURE AND SIMPLE BUT BEAUTIFUL. THE SEA SCALLOPS —
THAT WAS DELICIOUS — ON A BED OF BROCCOLI
AND POTATOES WITH A RED-PEPPER COULIS
AROUND IT AND ZUCCHINI COINS,
‘CAUSE WE SHARED EVERYTHING. Sbrocco: I’M TELLING YOU,
I’M HUNGRY RIGHT NOW. ALL RIGHT, REBECCA. Cervantes: YEAH, THOSE SIDES,
WE DIDN’T ORDER THOSE, AND NOW I’M LIKE,
“OH, I MUST GO BACK.” [ LAUGHTER ] IT’S BECOME MY GO-TO
FRENCH RESTAURANT NOW. IF ANYBODY ASKS ME
FOR A RECOMMENDATION, I WOULD GO THERE. I FEEL LIKE IT WAS BETTER THAN THE FOOD I HAD IN PARIS. IT WAS AMAZING. THE OWNER WAITED ON US. I DON’T KNOW IF HE DOES THAT
ALL THE TIME. BUT WE HAD ORDERED OYSTERS —
THEY WERE OUT OF OYSTERS, SO HE BROUGHT US ESCARGOT, WHICH IS A RISKY
KIND OF ENDEAVOR. I’M NOT NECESSARILY
AN ESCARGOT FAN. THIS CHANGED MY MIND COMPLETELY. IT HAD A LITTLE ANNASECUR IN IT. IT WAS SERVED IN A LITTLE
CERAMIC RAMEKIN SORT OF THING. AND I JUST KEPT SOPPING UP
THE BUTTERY PARSLEY — Sbrocco: LISTEN,
YOU CAN EAT SNAILS, YOU CAN EAT ANYTHING ONCE
IT’S IN BUTTER AND GARLIC. Cervantes:
AND THE ESCARGOT THEMSELVES WERE COMPLETELY TENDER,
DELICIOUS. IT WAS ONE OF THOSE SURPRISE,
AMAZING STANDOUTS. THE STEAK TARTARE?
I DON’T KNOW IF YOU’VE HAD IT. Gerben:
I’VE NEVER TRIED IT. Cervantes: ACTUALLY,
I LOVE STEAK TARTARE — BEST ONE I’VE EVER HAD.
HANDS DOWN. THE FLAVORS WERE
PERFECTLY BALANCED. IT WAS JUST BEAUTIFUL, JUST A CIRCLE WITH ALL THESE
LOVELY LITTLE RINGS OF PARSLEY AND EGGS COMING OUT, BUT IT WAS THIS PERFECTLY
SEASONED GROUND BEEF WITH AN AMAZING, HUGE, GENEROUS
SIDE OF POMME FRITZES. IT WAS JUST DELICIOUS. Sbrocco: AND THEIR WINE LIST
IS ALL FRENCH, SO YOU CAN HAVE EVERYTHING FROM A LITTLE BIT
OF CRÈMANT de BOURGOGNE… Clinton: I DID. Sbrocco: YOU DID! THE PINK CRÈMANT de BOURGOGNE —
THE ROSÈ. A WOMAN AFTER MY OWN HEART
THERE, VICTORIA. AND YOU CAN END WITH, YOU KNOW, BEAUTIFUL BANDOL,
A SWEET WINE FROM — Cervantes:
YES, WE DID THAT. Gerben: WHAT I ALWAYS GO BACK
ARE FOR THE MUSSELS. AND ON THEIR WEBSITE
AND ON THEIR MENU, THEY SAY IT’S THE BEST MUSSELS
IN TOWN. Cervantes:
I NEED TO TRY THOSE. Gerben: AND I HAVEN’T TRIED
EVERY MUSSEL IN SAN FRANCISCO, BUT THEY’RE THE BEST ONES
I’VE HAD. AND NOT ONLY ARE THEY GOOD, BUT THEY GIVE YOU DOZENS
UPON DOZENS — A BOWL THAT YOU HAVE
TO PASS AROUND. AND WHEN YOU HAVE THE FRITE
WITH ENOUGH JUICE TO KIND OF DIP THE FRITE INTO, THAT’S PRETTY MUCH ALL YOU NEED
FOR A PERFECT NIGHT. Sbrocco: AND THEY HAVE
A PRIX FIXE MENU, DON’T THEY? Gerben: THEY DO, AND I THINK
IT’S A HIDDEN GEM — NOT ONLY IN THE RESTAURANT
BUT IN THE ENTIRE CITY. IT COMES WITH A HOUSE SOUP, ENTRÈE WHICH THEY DECIDE
FOR YOU, AND THEN ALSO A SIDE SALAD,
SOME VEG, AND ALSO A DESSERT. THE PRIX FIXE WHEN WE WENT THERE WAS ACTUALLY A PUREED
LENTIL SOUP, WHICH WAS DELICIOUS
AND VERY WARM AND VERY SALTY — JUST VERY DELICIOUS
FOR THE EVENING. AND THEN A PORK CHOP,
WHICH WAS GRILLED ON THE GRILL, AND SO HAD PERFECT SEAR TO IT,
SUCCULENT WHEN YOU TIED INTO IT, AND THEN SERVED ON, KIND OF,
A BED OF SMASHED POTATOES OR MASHED POTATOES THAT WERE
JUST VERY DECADENT AND DELICIOUS WITH THE SIDE SALAD WITH THE
PERFECT BISTRO VINAIGRETTE — PERFECT END TO A NIGHT. Sbrocco: LET’S TALK DESSERT.
LET’S TALK DESSERT. Cervantes:
SO, WE HAD THE CRËME BR˚LÈE, WHICH WAS ALSO
PERFECTLY EXECUTED, A DELICIOUSLY CRUSTY CRUST, AND A VERY SMOOTH
AND RICH INTERIOR. THAT CRËME BR˚LÈE WAS DEFINITELY
A STANDOUT, TOO. Clinton:
I HAD THE STRAWBERRIES, WHICH WERE SERVED WARM
IN A BALSAMIC GLAZE WITH CRACKED BLACK PEPPER, MELTING THE VANILLA-BEAN
ICE CREAM BELOW. IT WAS SO DELICIOUS,
I COULD’VE SWAM IN IT. Cervantes:
WE ALSO HAD THE PEAR TART, ANOTHER STANDOUT, AND THE MOUSSE
AUX DEUX CHOCOLATS. AWESOME. AMAZING. Sbrocco: ALL RIGHT, LET’S TALK
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT SERVICE. Clinton: IMPECCABLE.
I THOUGHT SHE WAS GREAT. AND THE WHOLE STAFF,
YOU COULD SEE THEM COOKING, YOU COULD SMELL EVERYTHING. IT WAS GREAT SERVICE. Sbrocco: ALL RIGHT,
THIS WAS YOUR SPOT, CHRIS. WRAP IT UP FOR US. Gerben:
IF YOU WANT TO ESCAPE THE SAN FRANCISCO
RESTAURANT SCENE BUT DON’T WANT TO LEAVE
THE CITY, THEN BAKER STREET BISTRO’S
THE PERFECT GETAWAY. Sbrocco:
ALL RIGHT, AND, VICTORIA? Clinton:
I LOVED EVERY MINUTE. I CAN’T WAIT TO GO BACK. Sbrocco: AND REBECCA? Cervantes: A HIDDEN GEM AND NOW MY GO-TO FRENCH
RESTAURANT IN SAN FRANCISCO. Sbrocco: ALL RIGHT, IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO TRY
BAKER STREET BISTRO…   AND THE AVERAGE TAB FOR DINNER WITHOUT DRINKS IS AROUND $45. I WANT TO THANK MY GUESTS
ON THIS WEEK’S SHOW — VICTORIA CLINTON, WHO RAVES ABOUT MASSIMO’S
TRADITIONAL ITALIAN RECIPES IN FREMONT, AND REBECCA CERVANTES WITH THE MIDDLE-EASTERN FLAVORS AT OLD JERUSALEM RESTAURANT
IN SAN FRANCISCO, AND, FINALLY,
THE ROMANTIC CHRIS GERBEN WITH HIS QUAINT FRENCH SPOT AT BAKER STREET BISTRO
IN SAN FRANCISCO. WE REALLY WANT TO HEAR YOUR
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S SHOW AND YOUR EXPERIENCES AT ANY
OF THE RESTAURANTS WE’VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT. SO, GO TO OUR WEBSITE AT…   …WHERE YOU’LL FIND
A LOT MORE INFORMATION AND DETAILS ON ALL
THE RESTAURANTS FEATURED. YOU CAN WATCH A SEGMENT
OR DOWNLOAD A WHOLE SHOW. AND DON’T FORGET YOU CAN
STAY IN TOUCH WITH US VIA FACEBOOK AND TWITTER, WHERE YOU’LL FIND EXCLUSIVE,
BEHIND-THE-SCENES CLIPS, PICKS, AND NOTES FROM ME, INCLUDING INFORMATION
ON THE WINES WE’RE DRINKING AND ENJOYING TODAY. SO, JOIN US NEXT TIME WHEN THREE NEW GUESTS WILL
RECOMMEND THEIR FAVORITE SPOTS RIGHT HERE ON
“CHECK, PLEASE! BAY AREA.” I’M LESLIE SBROCCO,
AND I’LL SEE YOU THEN. CHEERS!   Announcer:THIS SHOW IS
AVAILABLE ON DEMAND AND ONLINE.
TO WATCH AN EPISODE,
FIND RESTAURANT INFORMATION,
OR TO APPLY TO BE ON THE SHOW,
GO TO OUR WEBSITE AT…
 YOU’LL ALSO FIND US ON FACEBOOK
AND TWITTER.
    Announcer:
A KQED TELEVISION PRODUCTION. 

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