A Recent Favorite | California09 Dec 2019 05:35 pm

Owner/chef Anthony J. Miceli has created an idyllic spot in the redwoods near Woodacre (the location of Spirit Rock).

The outdoor patio is beautiful, service is great, and prices are reasonable.

The cooking here is exceptional Рanother carbonara masterpiece. Salmon dishes are a specialty; salads are fresh with local ingredients, and meat dishes cooked to perfection.  Also great for a sandwich or bowl of soup.

625 San Geronimo Valley Drive

San Geronimo, CA

415-488-0105

A great place to stop by on way to Point Reyes.

A Recent Favorite | California | San Rafael09 Dec 2019 05:20 pm

This is one of our San Rafael favorites. Great food and great circuses (worth the visit for the circuses).

We had lunch in between film festival viewings – my chilaquiles were authentic and delicious. Too many items to review here, but plenty for the carnivore and vegetarian. The owner’s distinct style is imprinted everywhere (check out the framed family recipes which are at the heart of their success).

We will return as this is a special place.

1025 C Street

San Rafael, CA 94901

415-295-7990

www.lavierlatinfusion.com

 

California | Italian | Santa Cruz01 Nov 2016 08:43 am

Gem of authenticity with owners from New York with Sicilian background.

Wow! The Sunday Gravy which took hours to prepare was the perfect Bolognese style pasta sauce (though the word sauce does not give this thick and luscious staple of good cooking any justice). Pat Bruno’s recipe from one of the Chicago newspapers has been attempted in Chicago several times with some success and Lillian’s comes in close.

Appetizers are well prepared; try their gnocchi (they melt in your mouth)! Bread is perfect and wine choices adequate and fairly priced.

Location is great with plenty of parking nearby (and away from the hustle and bustle of “downtown” Santa Cruz and the waterfront).

Lillian’s

1148 Soquel Ave.

Santa Cruz, CA 95062

(831)425-2288

Closed Monday

Open 4 to 9 pm (Sat & Sun until 10 pm)

 

 

A Recent Favorite | California | Fairfax | Italian11 Jan 2014 02:23 pm

Great little spot with wine from casks made to owner’s specifications – both the red and white were good.

Shared freshly made ravioli with pumpkin squash filling – they split the order in the kitchen – always a good sign.

We will definitely be back.

Small spot so reservations would be a good idea during prime dining time.

Fradelizio’s Ristorante Italiano

35 Broadway

Fairfax, CA 94930

(415)459-1618

Subsequent visit in March 2018 confirmed again great food and service.

Italian | San Francisco05 Dec 2013 09:37 am

This one makes my Top Ten!

Chef/Owner Sergio Giusti brings his home cooking knowledge from a small town near Firenze – and his food is some of the best Italian food I have eaten outside of Italy. He spent time in Chicago for years and knows all of the better Chicago Italian restaurants and their chefs (La Scarola, Piccolo Sogno, Bruna’s, Coco Pazzo, etc.) – I am sorry he left Chicago!

This small, noisy restaurant in a happening part of San Francisco (you definitely need a reservation most nights) has an exciting ambiance (more like a New York spot) Рbut why not go where the in-crowd goes? One of his specialties is gnocchi with a light cream tomato sauce Рthe gnocchi melt in your mouth. The roast chicken is perfectly prepared with the right spices and tenderness. The Veal Saltimbocca Alla Romano was tender with just the right amount of prosciutto and fontina cheese.

Salt alert: none needed here – Sergio does not mask the flavor of his cooking with too much salt – what a concept.

Next time I will have the Malanzane Alla Leonardo Da Vinci – my quest for the best Malanzane continues.

Wine list is thorough but not ridiculous; nice Barbera de Alba and Dolcetta de Alba choices along with other great Italian wines.

Also, the prices are very reasonable.

1429 Stockton Street
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 392-8585
Firenze by Night website

California | Italian | Monterey23 Sep 2006 12:19 pm

Monterey has loads of fine restaurants, but this one was chosen away from the tourist areas but close enough to our hotel near the ocean; we do have a good nose for restaurants.

The restaurant is branded ” A Local’s Place” though we could not assess this branding as we were there midweek and late in the day. We shared a spinach salad (oops, guess not in the future until the fresh spinach scare is clarified/resolved) and ricotta basil raviola and I had minestrone as well. Wine choices are adequate and the pours are fair; guess the increasing popularity of Monterey and Carmel Valley wines has improved things at Joe’s.

Service was very friendly and their open kitchen approach should be a standard; nothing to hide here.

2149 North Fremont Street

Monterey, CA

(831)655-3355

www.montereyjoes.com

California | Corte Madera | Italian | Melanzane | Pizza05 Jul 2006 11:59 am

Mario & Tony (the chef) Farahmand transplanted themselves from Iran to California,with a childhood (and growing up in the Italian restaurant business) in Italy before Corte Madera. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your journey to an area we visit often. I will again praise an eggplant dish prepared exactly to my liking – tender, not greasey, with a fresh marinara sauce consisting mainly of diced, flavorful tomatoes. Wow! Other dishes with my companions included a really thin crust pizza with prosciutto, and a pasta/chicken dish – both very good. The focaccia style bread was a hit with the fresh garlic/spices/olive oil.

Wine choices are extensive for such a small place – variety from many places, and some very decent Barbera and Dolcetta selections by the glass and bottle. Wine prices are fair.

Sharing a tiramasu was not a bad idea either. Coffee is good, and service very friendly (even with a 2.5 year old in tow). Friendly staff as well as elegant/casual surroundings.

18 Tamalpais Drive
Corte Madera, CA 94925
(415)927-2316
www.benissimos.com

Beverly Hills | California08 Jan 2006 10:35 am

See my comments on the San Francisco location. This newer of their places is larger and fun (see Dracula).

55 North La Cienega Blvd.
(Near Wilshire)
(310)652-7673

www.thestinkingrose.com

California | San Francisco08 Jan 2006 10:31 am

The original in San Francisco is a garlic lover’s paradise – garlic in everything, even in the ice cream if you choose (not me – I prefer hot fudge). I have not had a dish here which I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed. The starter of baked garlic/oil to accompany the bread is almost reason enough to stop here. I am partial to the garlic meatloaf and garlic mashed (smashed would imply too much eclecticness) potatoes. Wine choices are fair as well as the pours.

Their “gift shop” has some very unusual garlic-themed items. During my first visit I finished half a bottle of pickled garlic before bed time – WOW!

325 Columbus Avenue (near Broadway)
San Francisco, CA
(415) 781-7673
www.thestinkingrose.com

California | Italian | San Francisco01 Jan 2006 05:42 pm

The North Beach neighborhood in San Francisco has a multitude of good Italian restaurants – and Rose Pistola came highly recommended by a midwestern visitor – thanks for the recommendation.

Our lunch consisted of several appetizers (though the meal was just this last October I failed to note the choices); also Italian wines by the glass from an interesting selection from many regions.

Next time I’ll take notes and make specific recommendations.

532 Columbus Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 399-0499

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