Like a tongue on a flagpole in February, fusion cuisine results from curiosity and a shortage of popsicles. Rein in restless taste buds with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of Italian and Iranian fare and drinks at I Squared in Oakland.
Head chef Nory Madjlessi blends his training experience as an Italian chef with traditional Iranian cooking methods passed down in his family to concoct I Squared's eclectic menu. Like a sports anchor's seven-day weather forecast, the menu changes weekly, using local ingredients when possible, as well as pastas imported from Italy and spices imported from Iran. Commence the feasting foray with the fungi alio olio, featuring stuffed mushrooms smothered in garlic, mozzarella, white wine, and parmigiano reggiano ($6), or the gin- and fresh-lemon-splashed smoked salmon ($9). The fesenjoon coalesces flavors from Iranian spices, walnuts, pomegranate, and chicken ($14), and the linguine tuto mare's New Zealand mussels, jumbo prawns, and shell clams swim through linguine ($15) to conjure memories of past scuba excursions in the bathtub.
The elegant eatery surrounds guests in minimalist décor⎯outfitted with an open kitchen and a stainless-steel-topped bar⎯that invites diners to partake in a glass of pinot grigio ($9) or Sam Smith organic ale ($4) over minimalist conversations about string theory. I Squared is also a BYOB establishment—a $15 corkage fee applies.
Known for their successful takeover of Hudson Bay Café, I Squared proprietors Sadri Madjlessi and Tanya Anderson partner with executive chef Nory Madjlessi to combine traditional Iranian and Italian fare into one bold menu. Chef Nory honed his Italian culinary skills under Giovanni LoCoco at LoCoco's and absorbed knowledge of traditional Iranian recipes and cooking techniques from his mother. Rather than attempting traditional fusion fare, Chef Nory aims to stay true to the flavors of both countries, filling I Squared's ever-changing menu with Iranian staples such as fesenjoon—a stew of chicken, walnuts, and saffron served over basmati rice—as well as Italian classics, such as eggplant parmigiana. Using local and sustainable ingredients when possible, Chef Nory preps his signature lamb-stuffed cabbage wraps as patrons peek in the open kitchen from their places at minimalist butcher-block-topped tables. A stainless-steel-topped bar holds a beginner's alchemy kit and the makings of specialty and dessert cocktails along with extensive wine and beer offerings.
5403 College Ave.
Oakland, California 94618Get Directions