Old-Fashioned Ambience

A famous ice cream parlor, drool-worthy magazine shop, and enough cafes to keep you awake for days beckon you to Piedmont Avenue.

Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue is a vibrant district with no shortage of
strong caffeine, gourmet noshes, and beckoning storefronts. Its
residential streets are a mix of single-family homes and multi-unit
apartments, so the demographic steers toward working folks, art
students, and young families.

Philippa Roberts (4176 Piedmont Ave., Oakland,
510-655-0656, PhilippaRoberts.com) is best known
for boasting a jaw-dropping selection of beautiful brushed-silver and
semiprecious-stone jewelry by its namesake designer. But you’ll find
plenty of other gift ideas here, too: several other lines of gorgeous
jewelry, darling baby clothes, handcrafted candles, vibrant ceramic
tableware, and more.

The Bay Area has no shortage of ice cream parlors, but few have the
old-timey feeling of Fentons Creamery (4226 Piedmont
Ave., Oakland, 510-658-7000, FentonsCreamery.com). Though it has
undergone a fancy makeover since it opened 115 years ago, it retains an
old-fashioned ambience. You won’t find fancy flavors at the Piedmont
Avenue establishment, which is known for its almond Rocky Road —
Fentons invented the flavor — gargantuan banana splits, heaping
portions, and an atmosphere that makes it a great destination for a
post-movie dessert or a family outing.

Love magazines? Skip Borders and head to Issues (20 Glen
Ave., Oakland, 510-652-5700, IssuesShop.com), whose deceptively small
storefront stocks a dizzying selection of magazines and newspapers that
could almost make you forget the Internet. A mom-and-pop place with a
firm local following, it carries big-time glossies and obscure
oddities, plus T-shirts, cards, vinyl, and gifts. You won’t leave
empty-handed.

Dopo (4293 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-652-3676) is the
perfect neighborhood trattoria, with the intimacy of a storefront yet
enough seats to give you a fighting chance of avoiding a wait. The menu
features tasty house-cured salumi and pâtés, a cheese
platter, and a selection of pesci crudi, vivid little
raw-seafood salads. The rest of the compact menu — with its
über-thin-crust pizzas and lasagna that’s both delicate and
comforting — tastes equally great.

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