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Let's get the whiny part out of the way. If you go to Oliveto Cafe & Wine Bar for happy hour (3:00–6:00 p.m. daily) expecting that the half-price small plates menu will be given to you voluntarily, this will not happen. You will not be given it, even if you ask, at 5:50 p.m., "What are your happy-hour specials?" If you should, at 6:01 pm, find out that there is indeed, a happy-hour small-plates menu, and inquire of someone as to why you weren't given it when you asked (see the above quote), you can expect that person to avoid you like the plague for the rest of the evening.

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So anyway, we start out with a couple of glasses of Arrogant Frog Cabernet/Merlot blend ($5 at HH) and order the artisan cheese and salumi plate ($11.95) and the calamari fritti ($10.95).

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The calamari comes with a serviceable marinara and a tangy lemon aioli. It's crisp, but woefully underseasoned and just a tad overdone. It really needs some salt and pepper in the coating.

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The point of an artisan cheese and salumi plate is to highlight the traditional craftsmanship of skilled cheese and sausage makers. The only descriptions we received of our plate were "Proscuitto, bleu, brie, parmesan, mozzarella, and salumi." In addition, there were a couple of marinated mushrooms, which were, with their mustardy vinaigrette, the best thing we ate all night, a bit of average caponata, and some chopped flavorless tomatoes ("bruscetta topping"). I wish that restaurants wouldn't try to serve tomato-topped bruscetta in the winter. The tomatoes aren't good, so why not come up with a seasonal substitute instead of spongy pink cubes? Say, a nice olive relish, a savory compote, or a chutney? The proscuitto was okay but cut so thickly that it was difficult to chew. The cheeses and the salumi were just sort of there, nothing more special than what you might get at Trader Joe's.

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I'd been looking forward to trying Oliveto's, so I was disappointed at the average-to-bland food. It's very pretty and romantic inside; it's a shame the food and service doesn't match the surroundings in quality.

Oliveto Cafe & Wine Bar

860 W. Washington St. (between Goldfinch St. & Falcon St.)

San Diego, CA 92103

(619) 220-8222

Hours:

Sunday - Thursday - 11:00 am - 10:00 pm

Friday - Saturday - 11:00 am - 11:00 pm

Metered street parking before 6 pm, some free neighborhood parking.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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