C'era Una Volta

4.2
803 reviews
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$30 and under
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Italian
C'era Una Volta - Italian Restaurant

This sun-splashed location is a hidden treasure on a quiet tree-lined cobblestone promenade. Our Italian restaurant brings a Taste of Italy to the Island of Alameda with delicious Tuscan, regional Italian dishes and an extensive Italian wine list.

From the day we opened our doors in 2004 we have received numerous awards for our food, ambiance, service, and wine selection. Chef Rudy Duran is one of only a handful of Bay Area chefs recognized by the Academia Italiana della Cucina for his authentic Italian cuisine. C'era Una Volta, voted Best Italian Restaurant in Alameda 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012

What 803 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.2based on recent ratings
4.1
food
4.2
service
4.5
ambience
4.2
value
Noise · Moderate
83% of people would recommend it to a friend
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G
1 review
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Excellent white tablecloth quality food served in a lovely atmosphere with gracious and thoughtful service. I've traveled extensively in Italy, and have been a restaurateur and winemaker in California. This is an authentic Italian dining experience at a most reasonable price, unmatched in my experience in the Bay Area. Free corkage on Wednesdays is an added enticement for wine lovers. Kudos to Chef Rudy and the staff for a wonderful evening.

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JG
Las Vegas
2 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

The service was wonderful. The food was good however one dish had slightly under cooked pasta. This time for some reason the music from the speakers was a little loud. However I did not ask them to turn it down.

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MO
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 3food 1service 4ambience 5

Food was bad, definitely not authentic Italian. The risotto was bland, I couldn’t even finish it. The only pleasant experience was the two young men asking for our dessert order, they were pleasant. Our actual server was abrupt and was hurrying us out even though the restaurant was pretty much empty at 8. The molton lava cake we ordered for dessert was an over baked, dry, cupcake.

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OT
Washington DC
12 reviews
Dined on February 3, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 3

Nice quiet date night! Went here with my husband for a simple date night and really enjoyed it. Although the place was undergoing construction (and thus a part was closed off to put in a new bar and lounge), we still enjoyed it. We had the two homemade pastas (tagliatelle and lasagna) and they were delicious! The waiter was friendly and funny, and the music set a really nice ambiance. Will come back again when the bar is open in a few weeks!

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g
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on February 3, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 4ambience 3

Some of the worst food we have had in quite a while. We will never eat here again.

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C
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on January 27, 2019
Overall 5food 3service 5ambience 5

They did a great job catering to our large group. It was my husbands birthday so they were very accommodating with the space and kind. Appreciate the attention they gave us while we were there.

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p
San Diego
1 review
Dined on January 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great service, food, and experience.

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AP
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on January 18, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 3ambience 3

I attended this restaurant bc if their alameda restaurant week promotion. The host was attentive but the food was in poor taste. My arugula salad was dressed with very tart lemons, that made me pucker. My eggplant was not thoroughly cook. The center was barely warm and the outside was somewhat warm. I did not complain to the server, and barely ate my meal. I just paid my tab and do not plan to return.

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SF
New England
3 reviews
Dined on January 13, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 2

Limited menu with uneducated staff. We had a nut allergy and the waitress was not accommodating in the slightest.

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I
1 review
Dined on January 13, 2019
Overall 4food 2service 5ambience 5

Wonderful warm welcoming atmosphere. Our server was very cordial. Sorry to say my salmon was quite "fishy" and so I had a hard time finishing it. I took the leftovers home and made myself eat them as it was my next night's dinner. The potatoes and veggies were nicely seasoned. I will give it another chance but feel it was a lot of money and I was dissatisfied.

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d
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined on January 13, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Nice for a quiet group or couple. Quaint tucked away spot. Go before the theater at Altarena Playhouse and they take 10 % off the bill. Service and food was exceptional

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l
San Francisco
15 reviews
Dined on January 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This is definitely a special occasion place for us! Lovely surroundings and service, delicious food.

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K
1 review
Dined on January 11, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 2ambience 3

The Menu says “rigatoni” but it’s actually penne. Why? The service is always rushed. Why? The longer I stay the more I’ll spend and it’s not like there’s a line at the door needing to be seated. Slow down, please, I don’t want to be rushed.

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K
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on January 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We took our out-of-town guests here to celebrate our mini-reunion, since we only get to see them about once a year. They lived in the Washington, D.C. area for many years and have had many memorable meals at some of the high end restaurants there, but they said that the food they had at C'era Una Volta was absolutely every bit as good! And our servers were very patient with us, answering all our questions and giving us plenty of time to make our selections. All in all, a very, very pleasant meal and lovely dining experience.

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C
Las Vegas
217 reviews
Dined on January 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Found this little hidden, cozy spot and enjoyed the salads, eggplant and spinach ravioli. Nice people, nice service.

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M
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on January 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This is our 'go to' for most holiday and birthday dinners. We have enjoyed this restaurant since it opened and it's not only always welcoming but the food is awesome!

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DP
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 29, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The chef is outstanding and the atmosphere is friendly.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 22, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

Some of our food was great, pizza was disappointing. It took forever to get the bill, but service was good otherwise.

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JA
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on December 19, 2018
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 5

Not a good night and I wrote a complete review on Yelp already. They seem to be not up to par for some reason. I don't think it was just a bad night. But I wrote on Yelp and there is no reason to pound away at it.

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TT
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on December 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

My girlfriend and I went out to dinner here and we were pleasantly surprised. Our table was in a cozy little booth that made it more intimate. We started off with a cocktail which was excellent and some UNBELIEVABLE bread ! The bread was Crispy but light and fluffy as well. Yet what made the bread even better was the dipping sauce. Instead of the standard balsamic vinegar and olive oil, C'era Una Volta puts olive oil and a teaspoon of some herbed dijon mustard in a small dish. Incredible taste ! The best dipping bread I've ever had ! We split a salad which was good. I had lasagna which was very tasty with a little tang that I liked ! My girlfriend had spaghetti which she loved ! Overall a great dining experience and very reasonable price wise. A neighborhood gem for sure that I highly recommend !

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 7, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

The food was good but they didn’t have as much selection as I would have liked. The service was very promp, but a bit hard to understand the waitress due to her accent and speaking quickly. She was very nice and did a good job, it was just a little hard to understand everything that she said. The atmosphere was good. I would definitely go back.

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MA
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 30, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

Have dined here on a few occasions over the years, and this was our second visit recently to the "Table for 8" menu held once Thursday evening per month. Rudy's culinary excellence is always on display, with a great atmosphere, this is a neighborhood gem amongst the foodie scene of Alameda's Park Street district. I applaud them for offering selections of Italian wine, but think they could do better with diversity & quality representing notable Italian varieties.

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OT
1 review
Dined on November 30, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great Ambience, authentic Italian fare.
Owner/Chef always around
Good value wine pairings

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EE
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on November 29, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 5

Always enjoy C'era Una Volta, although had to repeatedly ask for refill of bread and oil

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p
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on November 22, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

thanks for a great Thanksgiving meal in pleasant atmosphere.

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SN
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

A group of four friends went during Eat, Drink, Be Italian Week. The three-course Pugliese tasting menu and wine flight was not only a good bargain but an outstanding eating experience. The chef "Rudy" Fanetti outdid himself, especially with the broccoli rabe pasta with sausage. A special find in Alameda.

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OT
Las Vegas
4 reviews
Dined on November 4, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

A quiet Sunday lunch. Lovely service and ambience.

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DR
San Francisco
13 reviews
Dined on October 21, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 3ambience 3

I ordered the lobster ravioli and thought it was average at best. My friend ordered the Branzino and we'd anticipated a whole fish or nicely cut filets. Instead, they brought it to the table in pieces. I've never seen that done and the server attempted to explain the rationale. Then moments later, she brought a whole Branzino out to another table (explaining that the person who received the whole fish was Italian). My friend is a chef and expected to receive the fish whole or filleted, but certainly not cut up in chunks like she was a child. I really wanted to like this restaurant more than I did.

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TT
San Francisco
16 reviews
Dined on October 18, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Last min reservation for a birthday dinner with my boyfriend. Service was exceptional. Warm and friendly yet not overbearing. The last time I had a steak as good was in Firenze.

Was getting late and we had to get home, but they took the time to pack a slice of cake with a candle in it. Overall.... a perfect evening.

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W
San Francisco
24 reviews
Dined on October 15, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

We came for dinner following our show at Altarena. We were early, but the restaurant was empty. We were seated immediately by a very friendly server. Three of our party ordered the three course special. I ordered the meatballs and spaghetti, which was aptly named, seemingly more meatballs than spaghetti. I reminded the server we had come from the theater and pushed for the discount supposedly offered for theater patrons. Was told it did not apply to the special three course offering. Nevertheless, the meal was perfect, other than one salmon ordered was slightly overdone. The pork rib entree was excellent, as were the salads and fantastic desserts, which included a lemon cake and a lemon and a raspberry creme brulee. Fantastic meal served by a professional server.

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1
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 6, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

After my meal, I went to Altarena Playhouse, where the restaurant was called out for its on-going support of the theatre. Thanks for supporting local arts.

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MB
1 review
Dined on September 30, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Drove from San Ramon to Alameda to have dinner at C’era Una Volta. Great atmosphere!
My husband and I both had ravioli and a salad. Everything was delicious!
Server was attentive. Price was reasonable. Will definitely go back again!

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AK
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on September 29, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

Made a last-min reservation, on a night when they have a rehearsal dinner upstairs (or so it seemed).
Service was slightly uneven, but nothing tragic.
Was worried that it would take a long time to get served, as my kid was melting down, but the wait staff made sure my daughter's order got in first, and that she received her food when it was ready (like we asked) instead of holding it until the rest of the main courses were served.

Food was tasty and balanced. Nice veggies with the main dishes.

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s
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on September 23, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 2ambience 4

Nice menu and wines. My daughter loved the colored pencils and paper cover - being able to draw on the whole table. Lovely, upbeat piano playing that everyone enjoyed.

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w
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined on September 22, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I loved the ambiance of the restaurant. Very intimate and the food was excellent.

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F
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on September 16, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always great food. The restaurant is very friendly and makes you feel at home.

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OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on September 9, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 5

Good food. Little slow service. Atmosphere awesome. Definitely recommend.

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CL
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on September 6, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 1ambience 4

The food was excellent with substantial proportions. The wait staff was friendly and informed but the service was glacial, especially waiting to pay long after we finished the meal.

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JS
San Francisco
14 reviews
Dined on September 2, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 4

Nice atmosphere. Good food. Only been there once, so I cannot comment on much.

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MN
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on August 23, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Brought my cousin from Pisa, Italy. Family group of 8 enjoyed the food and Gabrielle the server and Chef Rudy as well. Cousin Guido had a good time chatting to Chef Rudy. He also enjoyed being with his American relatives and we all enjoyed the fun time, the great food, and the wine. We have been to C'era Una Volta for two or three special occasions and we enjoyed those times as well. We will continue to come to this restaurant in the future.

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