Chilly December winds did nothing to dampen the spirits of the East Bay Elite family at Yelp’s Buono Vacanze with Familia Tomatina. This year-end celebration of good food and drink was festooned in delicious holiday cheer, DIY Yelp trimmings, and a family-style spread from Tomatina!
Upon arrival to this toasty Italian hot spot, Elites found safe haven from the cold and were greeted by the intoxicating aroma of fresh garlic & wood fired pizzas wafting listlessly through the cozy confines of this Park St. pleaser. “The employees at the bar told us about going home still smelling like that - oh the Italian blessings!” mused Terry N.
With no intent to waste a single festive moment, generous pours of red and white wine flowed freely from the bar and specialty Old Fashioned’s -- of the Wild Turkey Bourbon variety -- began to quickly appear in guests hands. Jovial John Z’s, “inner bourbon child leapt for joy!” Check-in’s to the event were rewarded with Yelp holiday goodie packages, replete with Elite Squad tube socks, Bacci hazelnut chocolates & for a lucky few, tickets to Zoo Lights at the Oakland Zoo ;) Ryan M reports that he has already put his socks to good use, warming his toes in comfy, Yelpy glory on his early morning commute to work.
Executive Chef Rogelio Jacinto, resident purveyor all things tasty and toothsome at Tomatina, commenced the occasion with an introduction to the restaurant and a fun, hands-on demonstration of mozzarella cheese making, inviting guests behind the counter to try for themselves – a fine skill for any Italian aficionados in the making. Jason T. making mozzarella made it to John Z’s coveted list of event highlights – “In a heartbeat, his milky stirrings congealed into a bona-fide ball of cheese. Such a Harry Potter moment. And who knows, you may have gotten to taste a bit of his magic.”
Then, as Eugene L so eloquently stated, “Chef Jacinto opened up the food flood gates,” ornamenting the counter tops with plate after plate of rich and tasty Italiano goodness. Yelpers dug in to their first round of mozzarella & mushroom flatbread crostini bites, zesty polenta triangles topped with marinara sauce and buttery garlic-y rolls in waves of passed app pleasure. Decked out in merry attire, Jessica H found the “bruschetta with (fresh made!) mozzarella cheese, pesto and sundried tomato“ to be the most mouthwatering morsel of the night. Lorrayne L was right there with her citing the “generous slice of mozzarella on top” as the best part!
Soon after, Elites enjoyed Chef Jacinto’s host of artisan, wood-fired pizza pie’s as well as a delicious butternut squash ravioli and meatballs. Judy H found the carne combo pizza to be a personal fave – “the proscioutto in the pizza – smoky good!” With pumpkin cheese cake and tiramisu cake bites as the literal sugar on top, it’s safe to say that Elites at our Buono Vacanze Italian dinner were winning!
A soundtrack of jolly tête-à-tête co mingled with a mutual exchange of “mmm’s” all around as Yelpers chewed the holiday fat with one another and enjoyed the magical modus operandi of close-up magician Johnny Kearns. Gary Y sang his praises citing Johnny’s “mind blowing, world-class card sorcery” as the highlight of his night and Ryan M marveled over Johnny’s ability to disappear and reappear multiple nerf balls with “one hell of a slight of hand.”
“Between bites of buttery polenta, delectable pizza, butternut squash raviolis and the most delicious pumpkin cheesecake,” Robin L got to visit with old Yelp friends and make new ones too – the quintessential Yelp holiday dinner with our East Bay Elite family! With the generosity of our Tomatina familia – Chef Rogelio, manager Mark & social media expert Alissa and a wonderful crew of servers, bartenders and line cooks – we were able to ring in the holiday cheer and send off a remarkable 2013 Elite year with friends by our side and finger-licking fare in our bellies.
As Grace C puts it, “It’s obviously important to have good venue, food and drinks..” Equally as important, she stresses, “is creating a friendly, relaxed atmosphere where people can meet, make new friends, share interests, & conversate.” She declared that Yelp's Buono Vacanze checked all of those boxes! Throw in Michaelangelo A’s addition of a “great time with your favorite yelpies and fabulouso drinks” and you really can’t ask for a better shindig to wrap up 2013!
Til next year,
Community Manager - Yelp East Bay