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Bay Wolf Restaurant
3853 Piedmont Ave. (Rio Vista)
Pluses: Handsome craftsman-style building
Minuses: Dishes not terribly inspired.
Overview: M-F 11:30am-2pm, 6-9pm; Sa-Su 5:30-10pm
This is one of a handful of East Bay restaurants that have been a special occasion venue for a generation. The restaurant serves a mix of California and Mediterranean cuisine, varied with other regional American influences. The menu changes every two weeks, and might feature dishes of Rome or food of the southern United States. Start with a salad of shaved fennel and portobello mushrooms; or six sparkling fresh oysters with a simple champagne mignonette; while a blue cheese souffle is luscious. Bay Wolf is also known for its fun with duck dishes. A recent dinner menu included a crispy Northern halibut, grilled swordfish with French lentils or a buckwheat ravioli with beets, goat cheese and walnuts. The staff is professional and helpful, and the deck in front is a nice place to sit on a warm night or a sunny lunch. Reservations recommended.