Restaurant Review: Agrodolce

New Italian fare in Fremont
Fremont Agrodolce
Agrodolce brings organic Sicilian fare to Fremont

The potted tree, lit with hundreds of the tiniest white lights, still anchors the sunny Fremont dining room that once housed 35th Street Bistro (and before that, the inimitable Still Life Café). But there’s a loungier effect to Agrodolce, Maria Hines’ (Tilth, Golden Beetle) latest, opened in December. Especially after dark, when chandeliers cast a soft glow, helped along by candles on tabletops, and jewel-toned oil paintings punching some color into the neutral-toned look. The menu, as at all of Hines’ restaurants, is certified organic. It’s also nominally Sicilian (“agrodolce” means sweet and sour in Italian), and there are quite perfect arancine ($8) on offer as proof: fried balls of rice that melt when bitten into, their middles filled with rich braised beef. But in actuality, Agrodolce is more generally Italian, and there are high points—a plate of thinly sliced, house-cured pork tenderloin ($7)—and equally as many low points, the worst being an off-kilter rabbit cacciatore, riddled with tough, chewy sundried tomato segments and overwhelmed by marjoram ($22). Better: a (slightly overcooked) risotto redeemed by tender fish and mussels impeccably cooked ($24). The surprising highlight, however, is the cocktail menu, created by general manager Aaron Robinson. His list is solid all the way through, though I especially liked the Lame Duck: A blend of lightly smoky reposado tequila, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth and Cointreau with a flamed orange peel ($11), it’s like a margarita with a little mystery. That plate of cured pork loin and those arancine are swell alongside. Brunch Sat.–Sun., lunch and dinner daily. 709 N 35th St.; 206.547.9707; agrodolcerestaurant.net

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