By Ken Martin

A DISH TO DIE FOR!: When I first decided to begin writing a column for the Forum, I set some parameters for what it would contain. One of those was that I would not write about commercial establishments unless they had offered something particularly special to their customers. I felt that, if I wrote about one business, in fairness I would have to write about them all which would take up all of my column space for at least the next decade! I have stretched this rule a couple of times because I found an item or service that I felt the readers had to know about. I’m going to do it again now.

At the lower end of the 580 Market Place, which is at the upper end of Castro Valley Boulevard, sits a restaurant that, over time, has been Senor Grill, Crow’s Tavern, and finally, now is the Palomares Cafe. The fare there is primarily Italian and Mediterranean, both of which are very good. But they offer one Italian dish that is to die for! It is their delicioso Linguini Carbonara.

While they have a very varied menu with many excellent selections, this dish is so good that, whenever we go there to dine, even though I vow to order something new, I end up with Linguini Carbonara. I just have no willpower when it comes to this dish! Now, I have had carbonara, either spaghetti or linguini, in several other places including some that we have made at home, but none of it even approaches that made by Shebli Massarweh, the chef at the Palomares Cafe.

For those not in the know, carbonara pasta sauce is a combination of olive oil, eggs, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and parsley, with pancetta (Italian bacon), all put together in the proper proportions, and mixed into spaghetti or linguini. Chef Shebli obviously seems to know those proportions much better than most other chefs. I think what makes his carbonara so special is that, while most other chefs just chop the pancetta into small cubes, Chef Shebli shaves it into very thin slices and then cuts it up. This spreads the delicious flavor all through the sauce rather than concentrating it in spots. Whatever he does is certainly the right way to do it. Don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself. I guarantee satisfaction!

While you’re there, check out the big mural in the bar depicting a plethora of famous people from days gone by up to the present. It’s fun just to try to identify them all. You may wonder why there are several crows in the picture. Remember, this place was once Crow’s Tavern. Even though it is now Palomares Cafe, the crows remain in the mural.

On five or six nights each month you can listen to live music while trying to remember all the celebrity names. Other evenings find karaoke going on in the bar. You can also have dinner served in the bar while you check out the mural and enjoy the music. Check their website (www.palomarescafe.com) to see what’s happening on what nights. But, for whatever reason you may visit the Palomares Cafe, be certain to try the Linguini Carbonara!!