Since my first trip to the College Avenue area last year, I have been hearing about I-Squared, an “Iranian and Rustic Italian” restaurant. Iranian + Italian, of course, gives rise to its name, I^2. Several people have recommended it to me, but because it is a bit pricey, and because College Avenue is sort of far from where I live, I never paid a visit. But finally, last month I had the chance to try it out!
In the midst of all the other restaurants nearby on College, it actually doesn’t really stand out. The interior has a modernist/ minimalist feel, which I really like. The restaurant is small, but pretty empty on a Wednesday before 6pm..
Loved the S&P dishes, although they are pretty impractical as far as actual usage:
Now, onto the food:
The salad was well-balanced, but I think the mound of goat cheese was a bit.. weird. I would have personally preferred for the cheese to be crumbled and distributed evenly throughout the salad already.
The mussels were OMG-worthy delicious. The mussels were nicely cooked, and more importantly, that garlic-saffron-wine sauce is magic. It also goes super well with the bread… I usually only eat one or two pieces of bread, but I think I finished half a loaf just dipping the bread in the saffron sauce.
This was from the “Italian” part of the menu, I suppose. I must say that this did not impress me very much – maybe it is because the previous steamed mussel appetizer was too hard to follow.
Now, I must apologize because I forgot to photograph the most recommended item on the menu: braised lamb shank. It was served with pearl pasta and steamed zucchini, topped with artichoke hearts, saffron, yellow split peas, tomatoes and a red wine sauce. It was possibly the best lamb dish I have ever had – and that is saying something because my family eats a lot of lamb. I am so sorry that there is no photographic evidence of this delightful dish, but I assure you that I will order it again when I return.
Finally, for dessert:
The baklava was not so memorable, but I did love the saffron-pistachio ice cream. It was not too sweet and ended the meal on a refreshing note.
I really enjoyed my experience here, and maybe it’s because there were not many customers, but we received very good service. I have heard complaints about the service here, so maybe we got lucky. Nevertheless, I would love to return for a special occasion of some sort, because the food here is definitely celebration-worthy!
5403 College Ave, Oakland, CA
Mon-Sat 5-10pm (Happy Hour 5-6pm)