Andiamo to OBO’
OBO’ Italian Table & Bar
Sacramento, CA 95816
The venerated Andiamo Italian restaurant thrived on Folsom Boulevard for two decades. After it closed, the short-lived Good Eats squandered its good luck and folded quickly.
Since then, the seemingly ideal location had remained empty—until June, when the Selland Family Restaurants group opened OBO’. After a long rehab of the building that balances old and new, they’ve enjoyed landslide business.
How have they succeeded where Good Eats did not?
Much credit surely goes to the Selland family, which also runs Ella Dining Room & Bar, the Kitchen and Selland’s Market-Cafe. They know how to combine high-quality food and a warm ambiance. The neighborhood was also underserved by midlevel restaurants.
So, even with some culinary missteps, OBO’ makes for a lively eating experience. The tiled floor and huge windows evoke downtown New York eateries, while the pizza peel chandelier brings a quirky modernist edge to the decor.
As with Selland’s Market, you order up front after perusing the wall menu and prepared food cases. Grab your own water and flatware and find a table.
A dining companion remarked that OBO’ is like the O negative blood type of restaurants: It’s universally appealing. Practically everyone can find something, including separate lists for vegetarians and gluten-sensitive folks.
Perhaps you need a salad? Order the Mista ($5 half, $9 whole) with mesclun, radicchio, paper-thin fennel and green onion. Choose one of three dressings, or top with chicken (an extra $3-$6). The red wine vinaigrette lacked oomph, but a garnish of punchy gorgonzola is available for another $1.
Or, choose one of the many focaccia. The market choice ($5.50) one day topped the lofty, herb-flecked bread with lemony ricotta and roasted seasonal vegetables. Jammy caramelized onions made a good match for the neutral cheese.
The minestrone ($6) was well-stocked with al dente vegetables, but somewhat bland.
The pizzas here have a Neapolitan-style crust which is laudably yeasty, but ours was a bit scorched and didn’t live up to the gold-standard of Masullo’s sourdough crust. The pancetta and egg ($16) version boasted thinly sliced potato and salty pancetta, but couldn’t quite balance the plain ricotta and soft-cooked egg.
Sacramento seems to lag in good pasta houses. OBO’ offers seven classic styles, including rigatoni Bolognese ($10.50). The pasta arrived perfectly al dente, judiciously sauced, with plenty of fresh, pungent Parmesan. Does it match Adamo’s Kitchen’s Bolognese for depth of flavor? Not quite.
Still, there are so many options, in such a sunny, open dining space, that shortcomings seem minor.
Get the perfectly tart-sweet rosemary lemonade ($3) or order any of a number of reasonably priced Italian wines—most $5 or $6 a glass.
Customers from nearby medical buildings seem to flock there for lunch, choosing among the many sandwiches. Rich meatballs ($10.50), served warm on ciabatta, benefit from fresh marinara and melty mozzarella.
The PLT ($9.50) substitutes pancetta for American bacon, although it seemed sadly flabby. The tomatoes, conversely, were stellar examples of in-season juiciness; still, the sandwich looked forlorn on its white plate without a hint of garnish.
OBO’ meets another Sacramento need for high-end desserts. Cloudlike cream puffs ($4.50 each) compete with fruit tarts ($4.25) and Italian cookies.
The chocolate crinkle ($1.75) easily satisfies chocolate cravings, while the espresso tiramisu ($4.50) deliciously combines coffee-soaked ladyfingers with a nontraditional pastry cream.
OBO’ attempts a lot here by trying to satisfy so many dining needs and desires in one location. They mostly succeed, and, despite an uneven menu, they offer just the sort of place you’ll want to visit with friends, dates and workmates alike.