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Italian Food in a Comfortable and Casual Setting

A variety of Italian favorites, plus a few surprises that won't break the bank.

I remember being introduced to as an Italian place in Walnut Creek and how excited I was when we were going to get our very own in the Tri-Valley.

Tomatina has been in Dublin for years and it is going strong as a "go to" restaurant for good, affordable Italian food in a very casual setting. Despite the informal setting, you are waited on by servers and can sit at either a table or a booth.

The starters on the menu will send you to carb heaven. They have delicious garlic rolls that come warm to your table and are served with marinara sauce for dipping. You can get 4 for $3.25 or 8 for $5.50.

You can choose to select bruschetta for $6.25 or a panini trio for $6. You will also find Parmesan-crusted polenta for $6.75 or a fruit carpaccio which uses pears instead of meat along with candied walnuts, baby arugula, and dressing for $7.75.

For salads, there are seven on the menu, including an antipasto-style chopped salad, a Mediterranean salad, and a roasted chicken salad. Salads come in small and large sizes ranging from $4.75 to $10.50. 

For entrees you can find eggplant and chicken parmegiana ($9.75, $13.75 respectively). You also have the option to pick your pasta and sauce choice for $9.50 (pastas include fettucine, rigatoni, fusillli, spaghetti and even ricotta gnocchi. For sauces, choose from marinara, creamy pesto, spicy tomato, parmesan or tomato cream). There are also Italian favorites such as lasagna ($11.50), spaghetti with meatballs ($11.50), fettucine carbonara ($11.75), and even paella-style risotto ($12.95).

For Italian with a twist, try a piadine. These are flatbreads that are cooked on the premises, but then get cold ingredients added on top.  I had the caprese piadine for $9.95. It can with oven-roasted tomatoes, mozarella and romaine lettuce. It had a pesto base, but the lettuce was also drizzled with a balsalmic vinaigrette. It is presented open-faced and you are suppose to fold it and eat it. It is huge and messy, but definitely delicious! Other piadines include steak, chicken, turkey and pepperoni, each for $10.75. A salmon version, a hummus and a caesar salad style are also available. 

Tomatina also has some pizza selections. Their pizzas are the very thin-crusted variety, which works for some, but not all, folks. There are versions you can create yourself with either a housemade wheat or white crust and over 30 items to top your pizza, everything from roasted eggplant to fennel sausage to fontina cheese. 

You can choose from a personal size ($8.75), medium which serves two  ($11.50) and a large that serves three or more ($16.95). These pizzas start off with your sauce and mozarella, but you will have to add $0.95, $1.95, or $2.25 respectively per topping if you want to add anything.  

There is also an option of ordering one of their specialty pizzas. You can find favorites like the Carne Combo Pizza (all meat with some sauteed mushrooms) and a veggie pizza, but you can also find some more original choices such as a vineyard pizza that includes roasted red grapes or a Mediterranean pizza that has goat cheese.

These pizzas run $9.50 to $11.95 for a personal size, $11.75 to $17.50 for medium, and $17.00 to $24.50 for large.

This restaurant has monthly specials that can be interesting. I remember having an awesome piadine that included a hardboiled egg.  It was so delicious that I had to come back a couple times that month. The menu changes three times a year to take advantage of whatever is currently in season. 

Tomatina has a fairly extensive kids' menu. There are eight different selections ranging from a caesar salad or a veggie plate to stuffed flat bread, pizza or pasta. Prices range from $3 to $5.50 for kids under 10. The kids can even chose a little dessert. There are root beer floats or vanilla gelato with chocolate sauce for $2.25. 

Adults can partake in some delicious dessert choices, as well. Try a cannoli, panna cotta or tiramisu. The menu includes gelato, lemon cheesecake and chocolate cake. There is even a dessert sampler for $9. 

At Tomatina they do have some wine selections as well as bottled and tap beer. You can also find Italian sodas and some great lemonade selections. I prefer the strawberry lemonade with nice chunks of muddled strawberries.

Tomatina has food available to go, including the half-baked option on their pizzas. You can also order trays of various items for large groups. And keep in mind that no reservations are taken, so get there early on a weekend evening if you want to ensure you get a seat quickly. 

Tomatina is located at 4590 Dublin Blvd, Dublin. 925-803-9997. Sunday-Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

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