One evening when I was out in Downtown Oakland, the hunger set in at about midnight. A friendly fellow bar patron directed me to a place called “Uncle Dougie’s New York-style Italian Heroes” on 17th Street. A short walk from The Layover Bar and we arrived at a late-night diner’s paradise.
Uncle Dougie keeps it simple: there are only four sandwiches on the menu: Meat Loaf, Chicken parm, Eggplant Parm, and Sausage & Peppers, all for about $5 each. After we ordered, Uncle Dougie himself came to chat with us. I’ve rarely met such someone so invested in his customers. At first I thought his thick New York accent was a come-on – it was almost like what someone in a bad play would use as a New York accent- but Uncle Dougie is the real deal. Whereas many Italian places use “New York” in their titles, as a born-and-raised New Yorker, Uncle Dougie’s is telling the truth.
The sandwiches? Just like the overall concept, they were simple yet satisfying. Fresh bread, full of flavor, and the perfect ratio of sauce-to-cheese.
I recently learned that the Uptown Oakland location had closed- although not surprised. The block he was located on may have been too tucked away and the Uptown Oakland revitalization hadn’t yet creeped over that far. Luckily, he’s moved the operation to Berkeley, and it’s just as good, and they’ve added more menu items- like pizza and spaghetti with meat balls (of course).
It’s located just on the outskirts of the UC-Berkeley campus, so it’s a great cheap option for students. It’s also worth the trip there- especially if you are a New York transplant wanting a true taste of home. I walk by there several times a day, and I see Uncle Dougie behind the counter, preparing food, and chatting up customers. Now there’s a guy who cares about his business. Say hi for me when you go.
2328 Bowditch (between Channing and Durant)