Pican, Pizzaiolo, Barlata, Adesso | Oakland, CA

When it comes to good eats, Oakland is no longer San Francisco's insignificant neighbor to the east. Here's proof.

Picán Chef Dean Dupuis of Atlanta's South City Kitchen moved west to run this upscale restaurant (pictured) in booming Uptown. His refined approach to Southern cuisine mainstays is a revelation: Chicken livers on toast ($11) are surrounded by chunks of Benton's bacon and onion-marsala sauce. A Caesar salad ($9) comes with nubbins of cornmeal-battered okra and grits croutons. And his braised collard greens are as fresh as they are spicy. 2295 Broadway; 510-834-1000 or picanrestaurant.com

Pizzaiolo Chef Charlie Hallowell, a veteran of Chez Panisse, raised the bar for casual dining in Oaktown when he opened his seasonal Italian restaurant in a former hardware store. The menu veers from chicken-liver crostini with pickled shallots ($9) to wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas to excellent pastas and sides like rapini with garlic and chile ($5). 5008 Telegraph Ave.; 510-651-4888 or pizzaiolooakland.com

Barlata For his new tapas bar, chef Daniel Olivella (who's also behind SF's B44) set up shop on the other side of the Bay Bridge. Six dishes–including house-cured sardines with smoky pimentón ($7)–are cleverly served in the latas (cans) for which the restaurant is named. Other standouts include genre classics like tortilla Española ($7) and less familiar Spanish specialties like the Catalan-influenced mar i muntanya: lamb meatballs and squid in chocolate-tomato sauce ($8). 4901 Telegraph Ave.; 510-450-0678 or barlata.com

Adesso Who knew sports bars and artisanal charcuterie were bosom buddies? The owners of Italian hot spot Dopo, apparently: Their easygoing offshoot down the street features an enormous flat-screen, but most of the clientele is focused on their plates, layered with some of the 33 different kinds of house-made salumi ($6 to $9 each). There's also a bounty of antipasti, panini and five varieties of pâté, including pigeon with speck and oregano ($9). 4395 Piedmont Ave.; 510-601-0305