Friday, December 4, 2009

MILANO - There's a giant pothole in memory lane

Some things we can go home to, others we have once and never can find again. Everyone has them. That dish you can't get out of your head. For me, there were the szechwan green beans at what used to be the Maple Village on Grand Avenue. Those beans, with their perfect combination of pan-simmered green beans and peppery sweet sauce sustained me in my youth during many a hangover. Once the restaurant went out of business, they vanished into the great restaurant in the sky. I've ordered similar dishes since then, but so far nothing has managed to come even close to my memory of that perfect dish.

Another dish that rocked my world was the gnocchi at Milano, the restaurant that replaced my dad's old favorite, Mitch & Jim's. (Oddly enough, Mitch & Jim's had another dish I was wild about, the Beefsteak Tomato and Red Onion Salad).

So I went back to Milano recently, in search of the gnocchi. Unfortunately, the place has changed ownership and sad to say, the gnocchi are gone. Forever.

In it's place is uneven and fairly uninteresting Italian food. They still have the cheesy garlic bread, but other than that, any resemblance to the old Milano is long gone.

We didn't particularly love our meal, but the owners did make it an interesting visit. To make up for the lackluster food, we asked for an Irish Coffee. The sweet vacant-looking waitress looked as if we'd asked her to find us an extinct DoDo bird. We got a recipe off the internet via iPhone, and let her copy it down. She gave it to the bartender (who was actually not a bartender, but the owner who just happened to be behind the bar) and they tried. They really did. They brought us back glasses of black coffee with about a gallon of Irish whiskey. Two of us were fine, my poor Better Half was a little overwhelmed by the quantity of whiskey.

So some days you win, some days you lose. I guess I have to accept it, Milano as I knew it, is gone. Sorry to say, I can't recommend it, unless you want to get really drunk while eating only cheese bread.

3425 Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA


  1. Your article is the only thing on the web related to Mitch & Jim's. Any idea where to find some old reviews of this historic restaurant?

  2. I do know that the son of the former owner, Jim Costello, resides in Alameda and owns an establishment there (it was he that provided me with his father's recipe for tomato & onion salad.) I haven't spoken to him in ten years, but if you are unsuccessful finding him (I'm sure he's got sources for info) I can call a contact and try to track him down.

  3. Sorry, its' JOHN Costello, and I think he owns McGee's in Alameda.


You should be able to comment without becoming a Google user. If you have trouble, shoot me an email. Thanks!