Northern Californian cooking with a hint of regional Americana is the main draw at this charmer on the Albany-Berkeley border. It’s popular with smartly dressed couples, who come here to savor items like an artfully presented arugula salad with winter citrus, Marcona almonds and avocado, or a highbrow riff on gumbo with chicken confit and andouille sausage perched atop Carolina rice. The excellent gâteau Basque, a caramelized wedge of creamy custard, is a must-order.
Set in an adorable cottage, Rivoli’s dining room boasts enormous picture windows overlooking a lush “secret” garden blooming with tender fronds, camellias and magnolia trees. Smartly serviced by an engaging waitstaff, the greenery is a nice contrast to the crisp, white-linen tables.- MICHELIN guide inspectors