I tried I Squared

    What is the product of Italian and Iranian food? It’s I Squared‘s food. Clever name. Clever combination to get the oddivores, those who seek to eat oddities at odd places, like me, hooked. While looking for a nice eggplant parmesan to properly celebrate Ashley’s birthday, we were presented with a choice among the traditional Ristoranti italiani, the eggplant parmesan sandwiches, or I Squared. It’s clear what we picked.

    Eggplant Parmigiana from I Squared - Baked layers of eggplant and Napoli sauce topped with fresh mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses

    The eggplant parmesan of I Squared is among the healthier, lighter kind of eggplant parmesans, where the eggplant slices are baked instead of battered and fried, and there is hardly any cheese between layers. The wilted, sinewy eggplant peel adds a dried-apricot-like chew, the bread crumb and melted cheese on top makes every bite sink and bounce in lushness. The palm-sized portion drowns in a pool of tomato sauce sprinkled with mozzarella. I find it best to eat each layer of eggplant by itself, just plain, when it’s neither like fruit nor vegetable. The texture is amazing.

    Also among the house specialties is ghormeh sabzi, “Iranian stew with saffron braised beef, baby leaks, fresh parsley, mint, dried Iranian limes, red kidney beans and fenu Greek, served with basmati rice”. This mixture of spices and vegetables is quite harmonious, however bland. To quote Mudpie, “it is good at what it does, but what it does isn’t good”. Nonetheless, the longer and slower you eat it, the more you appreciate the subtleties hidden in that small, melting tender chunk of beef, that unintelligible bundle of green mush, even that watery broth on rice. Suddenly it’s all gone, and you miss it.

    Address: I Squared Restaurant
    5403 College Avenue
    Oakland, CA 94618
    (510) 658-4400

    Dinner for two under dim light, attentive friendliness of the staff, and a grown-ups’ atmosphere: $26.34 🙂

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