Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Martinez, Ca, - Louie Bertola’s Restaurant and the Beaver Dam

       On a very rainy day, in January 2010 I had to go to the Probate department of Superior Court in search of a definition of a probate code. After going to the wrong building first and after removing all my metal items, I discovered I was at the wrong building and was instructed to go next door for the office I wanted. I bundled back up and ventured out into the rain once again. I dashed to the court house building only find I had to take off the jewelry and belt, empty my pockets and get scanned again. I passed the scan and found the elevator to the 2nd floor. As I approached the office door, I saw a big sign indicating that it was not open until 1:30pm daily during the work week. Looking at my watch I found it was only noon. But more importantly, if I left the building I would have to go through a third metal scan. I didn’t have a choice so I left to find a place to have some lunch.

Beaver Dam
     As I walked down Main Street going west, I recognized the creek area when the now famous Beavers built their nest and family. If you haven’t heard of the famous little critters, here are some of their press they’ve gotten since their arrival.


Oops, I overlooked this one but after a well desserved slap on the hands here it is.

Just scroll down in the article and you’ll find these creatures highlighted


The Restaurant  
      I called my good friend Michel Campbell to find the name of a restaurant he liked in the area near the little creek. He told me it was in an old house and it’s called “Louie Bertola’s.” I finally reached it - located at 611 Escobar Street - and climbed the stairs up to the main floor. Now, this is truly a family-style restaurant. All the non-load bearing walls were gone. To my left (west) was the main dining area which stretched from a bay window facing Escobar Street (south), all the way back to the stair well ( and restroom area) at the north end. These stair led to the third floor which was the banquet room that can accommodate parties up to 50 guests. Hardwood floors everywhere.
     Immediately to the right of the entry door was the stairs down to the kitchen area located on the first floor. Running north of those stairs is your basic plywood rustic bar sanded and stained to be dark. The area between the dining tables and this bar was open and could easily be used for some good dancing room. It was a very large empty area.
     Michael told me to look for one of the two owners and introduce myself as his friend. Well, sometimes that can really be good but sometimes it can backfire if who you are about to meet doesn’t like your friend anymore. Mike (last name “Abel“) was working as bartender, waiter and whatever else needed to be done. Apparently Michael was not in trouble with him as he was most polite to me. Mike Abel has partner named Dan Murphy.
     I don’t know what it was about the place but I felt very comfortable sitting by myself at the bar. I ordered a glass of cheap (oops, I mean inexpensive) red wine and kicked back to kill another hour before I could back to Probate. Mike doesn’t talk to much so I just sat and watched some sports on the only TV at the bar. I looked around and saw that the very northern portion of the floor I was on had a deck area outside, I asked Mike about it and he said is was only used by his real die hard smoking friends.

      I was starting to get a little hungry so I got the lunch menu from the waitress, Pat, working theis main dining and bar floor .   I almost fell of my bar stool! Prime Rib, Steak, or Calamari sandwiches were only $9.45. Their special cheesebuger was $6.45 or you could have Pot Roast for $9 dollars. They came with either salad or pasta. Wow! Did I just step back in time?
     Complete lunches included choice of soup or salad, some pasta, fresh veggies and hot bread. Besides the Prime rib, beef or calamari steak plates for $9.45 Louie’s offered a pot roast for $9 even. One could have chicken or ground beef or grilled egg plant for only $8.45, and they offer fresh fish (when available).
      But if you were a light eater, Louie’s let you have minestrone soup or Italian salad - all you can eat - with tons of bread and butter for only $5.45. Finally, one could just enjoy pasta with plenty of bread and butter. I opted here and it was only $5.45. There was so much I took half home. The food was perfectly fine and filled my needs. Was it gourmet? Heck no! But I didn’t go there for that anyway. I just wanted a glass of red wine and some good home-cooking and that was exactly what I got.
      I asked Mike about the famous Beavers who were his neighbors. He said that they were definitely a boon to his business but the recent heavy rains broke up their Beaver dam home. He thinks they are re-establishing a new dam just down stream from his restaurant going north towards the river.

Dinner Menu
       Well, it was nearing time to go back to the court house to get my information. I asked Mike for a copy of their dinner menu. It is shown below.

As you can see, great prices.

        The style is home-cooking and genuinely good tasting food, very fairly priced, in a comfortable setting. You can go there with friends and just plain enjoy each other in a relaxed atmosphere. I will definitely be going back and taking friends with me.

1 comment:

heidi said...

Glad you had an exciting bertolas visit and stopped to check out the beaver dam(s). You wouldn't see the beaver family in the daytime, but if you want to come back for dinner you might just get lucky! I'm glad you included our wikipedia edit, but please check out the website at www.martinezbeavers.org.

Heidi Perryman
President & Founder
Worth A Dam