Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Squared (I2)

I Squared (not I Two) is an Italian and Iranian restaurant so we brought our friends, Juliana "Spicy Italian Meatball" Tringali and Ashkon "Iraniac" Davaran with us.

We weren't sure how they were going to blend these foods and we were excited to find that you can get Italian food, Iranian food, or a fusion of the two. We ate everything.

We started with this Noon-o-Panir-o-Sabzi (no we can't pronounce that). It includes pita bread, yogurt, feta cheese, basil, and tomato. Ashkon told us this is a very traditional spread for Iranian dinners and festivities. The yogurt had mint and maybe cucumber in it. We all loved it so much that we saved it to put on later dishes... as well as getting another bowl of it.

For greens we got the I Squared Salad, which consists of goat cheese, roasted corn, mushroom, avocado, and mixed greens. What can we say? It was a nice fancy salad. The cheese was mild and went well with the balsamic and olive oil dressing.

Meatballs and sauce! Everything about this was great. Juicy and well spiced meatballs, Succulent tomato sauce. The waiter noted that the chef gave us an extra meatball because we had four people at our table. Aw.

If you like mushrooms they have a dish of all Sauteed Mushrooms with garlic, wine, and topped with Parmeggiano Reggiano. This was nice to eat on its own, the sauce was rich yet subtle. But if you are luke warm on mushrooms don't get it, it really is just mushrooms in a delicious sauce. It was nice to split between 4 people because you get enough to taste the yummies, but it's not like you just ate 1,000 mushrooms.

The Fried Calamari served with lemon and house-made marinara sauce was off the chain!!! You know how sometimes the calamari can be sort of rubbery but you are like, "whatever at least I am eating fried stuff?" Not this. It was tender and the fried part was light... and fried. We liked the sauce this dish came with, but also we improvised. We dipped the calamari in the spaghetti sauce (what?!) and the mushroom sauce (what??!!) and the yogurt (yuuuuup). All of these choices were correct. Mm.

After all our Italian appetizers, we switched to a fusion dish. Lamb Shank with pearl pasta, tomatoes and artichokes. The flavors from the two countries were a wonderful complement to each other. The lamb was perfectly cooked and fell of the bone. Our group was split on the pasta. Some felt it was a great pairing, while some felt it was sort of bland. However, everyone agreed on how great the lamb and sauce was.

Our final dish in the dinner course was the I Squared Kabaab, a combination of one skewer of koobideh (ground beef) and one skewer of chicken breast kabaab with rice and roasted tomato. We all loved the rice on this dish. Iranian rice is magical and filled with butter. We used the rest of our yogurt on the Koobideh, we recommend you do the same. This meat was pretty salty and the yogurt calmed that down, turning it into a really great flavor. The chicken was fairly plain, we thought it might need something. The presentation of the beef kabaab was also a little... unfortunate. The roasted tomatoes were awesome.

After that light meal we thought we needed some dessert to make sure we wouldn't go hungry. We all split some fantastic little cannoli.

Thanks Juliana and Ashkon for teaching us about your cultures. Thanks Squared.
Despite how this picture looks, they are not a couple.

We had a great time and are definitely interested in going back to I2 to see what they come up with. As a side note, the interior was beautifully designed and the chef and wait staff were exceptionally friendly. We give I2 4 Sabuys (2 Sabuys Squared):

I Squared: 5403 College Avenue Oakland, CA 94618

Next stop: Uzen!

Friday, April 9, 2010


Sorry, we have been gone for a while. Last month got a little crazy, but we are back on track!

We used to come here fairly often, but haven't been back in a couple years. Not much has changed.

Let's get to reviewin':

We split this green salad. It was fine, nothing to write home about. If you like gorgonzola cheese... you might not like this salad, because there isn't much on it.

Steve got penne pasta with prosciutto and asparagus, in a light garlic cream sauce. The pasta itself was whatevs, but the prosciutto really stood out. The sauce a little spicier than we expected, which was a nice surprise.

Briana got Chicken Marsala with polenta; it tasted like it was drenched in maple syrup. The chicken was thin and unsatisfying. The polenta was yummy, but covered in sweet. Gross.

The cheesecake was fine. How can you make cheesecake "just okay?" It's cream and cream cheese and sugar?! It didn't have any of the graham cracker crust, which should be required on all cheesecakes.

Tiramisu was also just okay. The creamy part was creamy (awesome) but the coffee flavored part just tasted like plain sugar.

One very welcome change is that they seem to have some good wine now... And it's still inexpensive. Last time we were here there was a very limited selection, and most of them were not worth the $4.50 a glass.

The service was a little lackadaisical. They weren't rude or anything, they just seemed distracted. Filippos, you never change. We give you 2.5 Sabuys:

Filippos: 5400 College Avenue Oakland, Ca 94618

Next stop: I2!