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14th annual Whole Hog Dinner at Oakland's Oliveto next week

February 13, 2013|By S. Irene Virbila | Los Angeles Times Restaurant Critic
  • Chef Jonah Rhodehamel of Oakland's Oliveto restaurant prepares a 500-pound pig from Devil's Gulch Ranch in Marin for Oliveto's 14th annual Whole Hog dinner this month.
Chef Jonah Rhodehamel of Oakland's Oliveto restaurant prepares… (Catherine Meng for Olivet )

Oliveto restaurant in Oakland has been doing the whole animal thing practically since Animal chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo were in diapers.

Headed up to the Bay Area next week? If you hurry up and reserve now, you can sit down to the 14th annual Whole Hog Menu at Oakland’s Oliveto restaurant. From Feb. 19-23, the à la carte menu is full of porky goodness. Organized by parts of the pig, the menu is coded CA for cold antipasto, WA for warm antipasto, P for primi and S for secondi, to make ordering easier.

The à la carte factor is key this year, as in 2012,  as Oliveto shies away from whole hog extravaganzas “toward a dinner more respectful of the whole animal.” For the five nights of dinners, the restaurant will use more than 2,000 pounds of pork from eight whole animals.

It is not a small menu. But here’s what I would order if I were lucky enough to be there: I’d maybe start with an antipasto of tongue, ears and jowls with red onion, mint and pickled cayenne. Or else pancetta-wrapped sardines with fregola all’ arrabbiata. But what about a salad of pork kidneys with Castelvetrano olives, fennel and orange? I’d have to have that too.

For primi, I’d consider potato gnocchi with ciccioli (cracklings) of Mangalitsa pig or agnolotti al plin with fonduta (molten Fontina cheese). And for a secondi, spit-roasted porchetta with radicchio and hazelnuts or rich, fatty zampone (Modena-style sausage) with Puy lentils.

OK, I’m done. I’m finished. I’m stuffed -- and very happy. And that’s just thinking about it. 

Call (510) 547-5356 or reserve online.


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