Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-10 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 5:30-10 p.m.
When Paul Oprescu opened Belli Osteria, a handsome Italian restaurant in downtown Berkeley, he saw there was a niche that hadn’t been filled: No one was giving ravioli their due respect. With his fresh pasta dishes, Oprescu marries Old World cooking methods with the creativity made possible by the bountiful produce of Northern California. The results are mostly quite good: Belli’s rustic, handmade, oversize ravioli may not have the melt-in-your-mouth tenderness of the most delicate fresh pastas, but they make up for it in the quality of the fillings, which rotate with the seasons. One featured mellow sweet potatoes, roasted garlic, and goat cheese; another had savory cabbage and braised pork; and yet another, a black squid-ink ravioli, was filled with shrimp and spinach. Prices aren’t low for the portion size, but lunch — priced at two to three dollars less per entrée — is a decent deal.
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