First of all, nice decor. Cozy but not cramped. No full bar, but a decent selection of wines by the glass. I got the pinot grigio and was quite well-pleased.
I ordered a gnocchi special (I think it was $15.95 or so) and Barbara Jo got the penne speperina ($13.95). (The next night, she got the gnocchi and I got the penne.) They were both fabulous. Usually I’m a little wary of gnocchi because they can turn into rubber so easily, but the chef did a wonderful job. They were either filled with asiago or it was an asiago sauce, I can’t remember which. Supremely tasty and correctly pillowy in texture. There was a piece of chive laid across the top of the dish that should definitely be eaten and not just cast aside as a garnish. The penne had some nice heat from the sausage, and a deliciously creamy sauce.
The waitstaff was friendly—actually, they remembered us on our second night. Service was relatively swift. Operacaffe is right across from the Balboa Theatre, so I imagine they get a lot of pre-show diners. They offered a 15% discount on food for Comic-Con attendees, which was nice.
The only blemish on an otherwise perfect meal was the basket of bread on the table. Now, when we were looking at the menu outside, the hostess had mentioned that their chef was from Florence. I know from personal experience that Florentine bread means saltless bread. So I wasn’t expecting much when I picked up a piece. But this was not Florentine bread. There was no textural interest, and the taste was oddly sweet. It was like plain white sandwich bread. It was bizarre, to say the least.
So skip the bread and save space for your pasta. The servings are pretty big, so you’ll appreciate the extra room.
It should be noted that we are DEFINITELY going back there next year.