C'era Una Volta

4.1
813 reviews
icon/ic_price_rangeCreated with Sketch.
$30 and under
icon/ic_cuisineCreated with Sketch.
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 813 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.1based on recent ratings
4.0
food
4.2
service
4.3
ambience
4.1
value
Noise · Moderate
82% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
4
3
2
1
Sort by
Newest
Filters
M
San Francisco
134 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 3food 4service 5ambience 5

The setting is exquisite reminding me of small restaurants in Florence Italy. Service was very personal, attentive and for preparations according to our dietary needs (lactose intolerant) was assisted by a visit from a chef owner. Focaccia like bread (excellent!) and mustard- olive oil dip started meal. The house salad was ample and delicious, others liked their Caesar w. Anchovies and minestrone. The in-house made tagliatelle was excellent with meat ragu as was substituted pesto sauce; eggplant parmigiana was very good as were side spinach and variety of vegetables. Only glitch was computer was down and bill was hand added, needed addition corrections and Visa machine didn’t work. Great atmosphere and we’ll be back.

Report
Helpful
DT
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on April 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

My wife and I love C'era Una Volta, its the perfect place to enjoy a well prepared meal in a comfortable environment.

Report
Helpful
MT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on March 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

we have dined at C'era Una Volta many times, without a doubt the food & presentation exceeded prior diners, the staff is very attentive and helpful, the evening special dinner was exceptional, by that I mean it compares to some of the fabulous meals I have enjoyed in Tuscany region of Italy.
For a very special night with "killer" authentic Italian food, you can't beat C"era Una Volta.

Report
Helpful
B
San Francisco
64 reviews
Dined on March 3, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

A lovely menu and very accommodating with substitutions. Great wine list.

Report
Helpful
RM
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on March 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It is like being on a side street in Roma savoring old family recipes.

Report
Helpful
AM
1 review
Dined on February 16, 2019
Overall 2food 1service 4ambience 3

Food was bad and portion sizes were very small (which in this case may have been a good thing considering the food's quality). The house wine tasted like it had gone by. They advertised a happy hour on their website but would not honor it, stating that the info on the website was out of date. Prices were high, and made even worse by the tiny portion sizes. I will say that the service was decent and we didn't have to wait long for our food. Overall it was a terrible dining experience, total waste of $100. Definitely would not return or recommend to anyone else.

Report
Helpful
CC
San Francisco
19 reviews
Dined on February 14, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 3

We love your restaurant, however in coming for special dinners on Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, it seems to overwhelm the type of device you desire to provide.

Report
Helpful
R
Las Vegas
2 reviews
Dined on February 14, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

Valentines a little rushed service.

Report
Helpful
FP
San Francisco
16 reviews
Dined on February 14, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 3

We have been going to C’era Una Volta for several years now, both for relaxing after work or weekend treats and for holidays and other special occasions. We have been repeat customers because of their normally high level of service and excellent delicious and healthy meals. However this past Valentine’s Day dinner was an extremely poor rendition of the normally stellar experience. It started with the hostess at the front door brushing us off when we arrived early for our reserved seating time (the normal hostess, Cheryl, was on premise, but was not at the door when we arrived). This was slightly made up for with Prosecco being poured promptly upon being seated. Next when we had ordered from the set menu, our server neglected to bring the crostini until after the insalata had been served and the Manhattan order did not arrive until it had been asked for repeatedly and we were almost done with the insalatas. Next my partner had finished his insalata, but I was still only 2/3 of the way through my dish when the entrees arrived and were placed on the table. I had ordered the filet mignon and that proceeded to cool on the plate while I finished my insalata. The filet mignon was nearly cold by the time I got to eat it as I also had to wait for our server to reappear so I could request a steak knife for cutting - this was doubly necessary because of a strip of tendon running through one of the cuts. My partner ordered the smoked salmon raviolis which he said were delicious. We had ordered drinks with dessert - the wrong desserts were initially brought, and then our drinks did not arrive until after we had finished eating the desserts. For what was supposed to be a relaxing romantic evening, it left us disappointed and irate. They should not have had such poorly trained staff/lack of service given the number of tables occupied. If they were short staffed, they should have acknowledge up front and at least made sure that drinks were served promptly.

Report
Helpful
c
San Francisco
21 reviews
Dined on February 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

C'era Una Volta is a diner's paradise. From the time you walk in the door until you leave, you are treated to warm hospitality, impeccable service, a creative menu, and artfully prepared food by Master Chef, Rudy. Valentine's Day, as usual, we were given excellent advice on a wine to enhance the dishes we ordered.
Our history with C'era Una Volta goes back eleven years and it remains our favorite restaurant.

Report
Helpful
G
1 review
Dined on February 13, 2019
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.

Report
Helpful
JG
Las Vegas
2 reviews
Dined on February 10, 2019
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.

Report
Helpful
MO
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on February 9, 2019
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.

Report
Helpful
OT
Washington DC
13 reviews
Dined on February 2, 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!

Report
Helpful
g
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on February 2, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 4ambience 3

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

Report
Helpful
C
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on January 26, 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.

Report
Helpful
p
San Diego
1 review
Dined on January 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great service, food, and experience.

Report
Helpful
AP
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on January 17, 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.

Report
Helpful
SF
New England
3 reviews
Dined on January 12, 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.

Report
Helpful
I
1 review
Dined on January 12, 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.

Report
Helpful
d
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined on January 12, 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

Report
Helpful
l
San Francisco
15 reviews
Dined on January 11, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

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

Report
Helpful
K
1 review
Dined on January 10, 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.

Report
Helpful
K
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on January 9, 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.

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

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

Report
Helpful
M
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2018
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!

Report
Helpful
DP
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 28, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The chef is outstanding and the atmosphere is friendly.

Report
Helpful
OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 21, 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.

Report
Helpful
JA
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on December 18, 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.

Report
Helpful
TT
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on December 14, 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 !

Report
Helpful
OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on December 6, 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.

Report
Helpful
MA
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 29, 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.

Report
Helpful
OT
1 review
Dined on November 29, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

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

Report
Helpful
EE
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on November 28, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 5

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

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

thanks for a great Thanksgiving meal in pleasant atmosphere.

Report
Helpful
SN
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 14, 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.

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

A quiet Sunday lunch. Lovely service and ambience.

Report
Helpful
DR
San Francisco
13 reviews
Dined on October 20, 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.

Report
Helpful
TT
San Francisco
20 reviews
Dined on October 17, 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.

Report
Helpful
W
San Francisco
24 reviews
Dined on October 14, 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.

Report
Helpful
1
2
3
21