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Lucky Livermore Locals – Terra Mia Italian Restaurant

The paternal side of my family is from Calabria so we try to visit at least once per year. My father was born in Cetraro and we had dinner in the historic center of Cosenza and whenever in Italy when asked I say we are from San Francisco as Mill Valley across the Golden Gate won’t be recognizable. The waiter said he had family here and mentioned Livermore and I said that is about 1 hour or so East from us. We have our favorite Italian restaurants in the Bay Area much closer to us but I read the reviews on Yelp and found at least 90% were favorable & 4 Star +. We visited this past Saturday and I verified that the ratings were right on. The restaurant is not in the downtown busy foot traffic of Livermore but in a small shopping mall a few miles away from downtown and also, don’t want to offend the locals, but this is not a major tourist destination in the Bay Area like San Francisco, Sausalito, Napa, Sonoma etc. In other words, they do not depend upon walk by traffic but is mainly a destination point place. There is no barker outside enticing people to come in, “Buon Giorno, Buona Sera” etc., as one sees in front of many restaurants in SF, NY, Boston and even in many of the Piazzas in Rome. In other words, you can look at the menu in peace outside and not be bugged to come in. The restaurant was packed. So, in short, for not a major tourist destination restaurant, the food has to be good for the restaurant to survive dependant upon locals.

Inside the restaurant was buzzing and “Vivace” (lively . ) and there were 2 tables with 6-10 people enjoying a birthday celebration…this in itself is a tribute to the restaurant for people to want to have a special event here. I am not going to discuss specific things we ate but we loved looking around at all the delicious presentations of plates being delivered and saw many of the people doing “La Scarpeta” sopping up the sauce with bread which for me can be the best part of the meal. OK, let me say that they, busy as they were, made a dish special for me that is not on the menu. I mentioned I loved Calamari in a tomato sauce with pasta as one would have Cozze or Vongele
(Mussels or Clams) and the owner had it made for me, tentacles and all which I love. The Calamari were tender, the Spaghetti al dente(chewy to the taste not like Polenta(Corn meal) and limp and the sauce delicious. The bread is fantastic and “Yes”, I did “La Scarpetta”.

We were very full but we needed to try the “Tiramisu” which means to toss me up in the air with the intention of a “pick me up” to make me happier. Well, after some generous pourings of wine with the meal and an Espresso Corretto( Correct Espresso with Sambuca) to enjoy with this delectable delicacy, I was euphoric. Naturally, my wife drove home. My Mama used to say “siamo tutti famiglia alla tavola”(we are all family at the table) and we were made to feel like family by the entire staff. Despite the “ristorante” full, Francesco & his son, Giovanni, always had time to chat with us & we were never made to rush as happens in many places where they need turn the tables. On a personal basis, there is a characteristic I especially liked about this family, Francesco, Giovanni & Cristina. When I spoke Italian, they responded in Italian. When I spoke English, they responded in English. My Italian is pretty good but not terrific yet they still allowed me the dignity of speaking the language of my ancestors. Although we had just met, it seemed like we all were old friends & gave eachother an “Abbraccio”-yup, it’s OK for Italian men to give eachother a brief hug. We do want to return…for me, “vale la pena”, it is worthwhile the 2 hours or so round trip from the North Bay although we live some 50 miles away as it’s cheaper than flying to Italy and also avoiding 15-20 hours of flight & Jet Lag to enjoy authentic Italian/Calabrese food. I must tell you that parking is no problem and that is a big problem issue with us going into San Francisco North Beach, especially on a weekend night .

Per tutti gli Italiani (soprattutto Calabresi) se avete nostalgia di cibo Italiano autentico e ospitalità Italiana di nato Italiani e siete ovunque nella Bay Area, ne vale la pena fare il viaggio qui come si trova il ristorante e l’ambiente di una casa via forma domestica.

Terra Mia Italian Restaurant: Lucky Livermore Locals – See 120 traveler reviews, 18 candid photos, and great deals for Livermore, CA, at Tripadvisor.