C'era Una Volta

4.1
834 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 834 People Are Saying
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Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.1based on recent ratings
4.1
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4.2
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4.3
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4.0
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70% of people would recommend it to a friend
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KJ
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 3

Attentive waiter, but not intrusive. Good food.

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B
San Francisco
11 reviews
Dined on July 6, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 2

We were very disappointed with C'era Una Volta. The taste of the entrees was okay, but the portions were very small for an adult and inadequate. The prices were way too high for what was received. The service was only fair and it took way too long to receive simple items like bread, tea, or coffee. Don't waste your money at this restrauant there are too many other good places to dine at far less cost.

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JO
1 review
Dined on June 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We went to a special brunch and the restaurant was full, some even seating in the patio dining area. Good food, good atmosphere, fun & friendly patrons and staff. It was quite busy and the wait staff had to work extra hard. The owner was very welcoming. Very good overall experience.

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OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on June 20, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Cheryl and Rudy run a fantastic restaurant with a very authentic Italian feel. Go. You will not be disappointed!

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CD
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on May 31, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 3

Enjoyable local Italian restaurant. Great service. Excellent food.

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MR
Puerto Vallarta
4 reviews
Dined on May 30, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Very gay table meeting new friends over wine and food!

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b
San Joaquin
2 reviews
Dined on May 29, 2019
Overall 2food 5service 2ambience 5

Takes a long time to get the bill

C'era Una Volta
Responded on June 8, 2019

We apologize for any inconvenience you experienced. It happened that we were short staffed that evening. Please accept our invitation to return and we will aim to improve on your past visit.

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GJ
San Francisco
13 reviews
Dined on May 24, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Much better experience this time and the food was great. It is nice to have a meal and not be pushed along. The owners are still our favorites!

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BJ
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined on May 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Food is fabulous. Service is superb. Reminds me of dining with my family in Tuscany! I highly recommend this wonderful restaurant.

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s
San Francisco
82 reviews
Dined on May 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food is always great! Bit the friendliness of Cheryl & Rudi May this restaurant wonderful.

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CM
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 3

Spectacular meal. What we had: We each got a glass of house wine--3 of us with the red blend and Mom with the Cab. It was a special Mother's Day menu, with the dishes served family style, which fit us very well. We got a smoked-salmon appetizer to start that was lovely, then a gnocchi with a gorgonzola cream sauce. Then we got a mozzarella ravioli with a smoked salmon sauce, and finally an eggplant parmigiana with caponata (eggplant/veg stew) on the side, with garlic-sauteed spinach.

A wonderful meal, and just the right amount of food. Mom got super tired, so we skipped dessert, although the lemon cake sounded just delectable. Service was excellent.

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OT
1 review
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 3ambience 4

Made reservations for Mother’s Day. Good food and I liked there special Menu that they had specifically for Mother’s Day.

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MR
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 3

Went for Mother's day and the it wasn't really busy. They seemed to be understaffed for the day. Service was very slow and had to ask multiple times for coffee that had been ordered. Took over an hour to get our food and when it came 2 dishes were way over cooked and my egg dish was cold. I informed them that my dish was cold and they took it back and just put in the microwave instead of redoing the dish. They did finally redo the dish but brought me a different version then what I had ordered. It was better but still wasn't right. In their defense they did comp 1/2 of our meal and were apologetic.

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MC
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 4

They need to do something about the service… It took forever to get our drinks and our meal

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ES
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I came for Mother’s Day Brunch with my family. The special brunch menu was good and they were able to accommodate my vegan sister’s dietary requests. They did mix-up one of our orders but quickly fixed. All in all it was a good brunch spot and we will be back.

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RO
1 review
Dined on May 4, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 4

PIANO MUSIC TOO LOUD, NOT DINNER MUSIC. WE HAD TROUBLE HEARING ACROSS OUR TABLE WHICH HAD WINDOW BEHIND ME . PESTO RAVIOLI DRENCH IN PESTO MAYBE 5 TIMES WHAT WAS NEEDED. MAKING DISH HEAVY & SOMEWHAT BITTER. SERVER DID NOT ASK IF WE WANTED TO ORDER WINE? WE HAD OUR ENTRIES BEFORE I WAS ABLE TO ORDER. WINE I ASKED FOR ON MENU WAS NOT AVAILABLE SO WE ENDED UP WITH A CALIF CHARDONNAY, VERY GOOD. SALMON MY GUEST ORDERED WAS PERFECT & ALL VEGIES & EXCELLENT MASHED POTATOES CAME WITH IT. THER WERE 4 OF US AT 6:30 ON SAT 4TH

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j
Las Vegas
3 reviews
Dined on May 2, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

We dined early on a Thursday evening before a play and were the only party (6) there, so the noise level was just the conversation from our own table. Another couple came in before we left, but we were surprised at the low dinner attendance. Food was very good: eggplant parmesan (2), gnocchi, lasagne & mushroom risotto. My risotto was very tasty, with lots of mushrooms, however I've had creamier risotto.
We'd go again.

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ZB
Central Coast
19 reviews
Dined on April 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Try to go on a night when the Warriors are playing and "The Avengers: Endgame" opens. Even though there were only a few reservations available, the restaurant was mostly empty! One of the specials, pork sausage stuffed pork tenderloin, was outstanding.

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c
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on April 25, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 3ambience 3

We enjoyed Rudy's explanations of the Italian wine regions and the wine/food he had selected. After dessert was served, he joined us at the table which was also lovely. We would have preferred the fourth course to be meat or chicken instead of a another pasta course and would gladly have paid a little more for this. A few small suggestions regarding ambiance: remove extra place settings from the table and space the remaining settings out evenly. There were eight of us, but the table was set for ten. This left one couple rather isolated at the end of the table. Also, there were beautiful candles on the table but they never got lit. Overall, a very nice experience. We'll be back!

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c
San Francisco
14 reviews
Dined on April 21, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 2ambience 3

This restaurant was the worst food we've ever had, the 3 of us all had lasagna I'm pretty sure Chef Boyardee would have been infinitely better, the portions were all different, I had 2 skinny slabs, the other guest had this weird rectangular blob, and bechamel sauce, meat sauce noodles moosh, grotesque. I think the chef needs to go back to culinary school for a very long time.

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FE
San Francisco
22 reviews
Dined on April 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

WE really enjoyed the Easter Brunch. The food choices were very interesting, and different. All was very good. Service was very good as well.

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M
San Francisco
138 reviews
Dined on April 14, 2019
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.

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DT
San Francisco
13 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.

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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.

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B
San Francisco
76 reviews
Dined on March 3, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

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

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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.

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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.

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CC
San Francisco
20 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.

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

Valentines a little rushed service.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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OT
Washington DC
14 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!

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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.

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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.

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

Great service, food, and experience.

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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.

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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.

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