C'era Una Volta
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Some of the worst food we have had in quite a while. We will never eat here again.
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.
Great service, food, and experience.
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.
Limited menu with uneducated staff. We had a nut allergy and the waitress was not accommodating in the slightest.
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.
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
This is definitely a special occasion place for us! Lovely surroundings and service, delicious food.
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.
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.
Found this little hidden, cozy spot and enjoyed the salads, eggplant and spinach ravioli. Nice people, nice service.
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!
The chef is outstanding and the atmosphere is friendly.
Some of our food was great, pizza was disappointing. It took forever to get the bill, but service was good otherwise.
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.
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 !
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.
Great Ambience, authentic Italian fare.
Owner/Chef always around
Good value wine pairings
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.
Always enjoy C'era Una Volta, although had to repeatedly ask for refill of bread and oil
thanks for a great Thanksgiving meal in pleasant atmosphere.
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.
A quiet Sunday lunch. Lovely service and ambience.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
I loved the ambiance of the restaurant. Very intimate and the food was excellent.
Always great food. The restaurant is very friendly and makes you feel at home.
Good food. Little slow service. Atmosphere awesome. Definitely recommend.