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Has anyone eaten at Vivace Ristorante or Piacere's in San Carlos, CA?

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Both are located in San Carlos, CA. They're sister restaurants. I'm asking because I've been looking for a decent, mid-range Italian restaurant in the South Bay for years and am still coming up skunked. It's also my friend's birthday in ten days, and she is a dedicated fan of Italian cuisine...very picky about her ravioli. So if anyone has eaten at either of these restaurants, or knows someone who has, please let me know! Thanks much in advance.

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  1. Sorry, Piacere's is located in San Carlos, but Vivace Ristorante is located in Belmont.

    2 Replies
      1. re: PastaLover

        ALERT !!! --- 2003 report

        Someone added to it in 2009 and I wanted to add some links to the 2009 reports

        727 Laurel Street, San Carlos, CA 94070

        Donato Enoteca
        1041 Middlefield Rd, Redwood City, CA 94063

        769 Laurel Street, San Carlos, CA 94070

        Eight Eight Eight Ristorante Italiano (888 Ristorante)
        888 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA

      2. I've eaten at Vivace and Piacere before, but a while ago. I remember they're good, but not great.

        However, a couple months ago I had dinner at A Tavola in San Carlos. It's more expensive than Vivace and Piacere, but I felt the food was much better.

        716 Laurel Street
        San Carlos, CA 94070

        (650) 595-3003

        Link: http://www.atavoladining.com

        1 Reply
        1. re: PekoePeony

          I've also been frustrated by the lack of good Italian food on the Peninsula. A Tavola, recent appetizers, not disapointing. Most owned by the same guys- middle of the road tourist pleasers. Forced to go to the city to try Delfina Friday night. Expect better.

        2. We've eaten at both Piacere and Vivace - I wouldn't call either one strictly Italian. Maybe "Cal-Ital" would be better. When they are good, they're great but if you catch them on an "off" night they're pretty dismal. Actually we haven't been back to either one lately because the last visit to Piacere was so bad. To be specific, it was a weeknight, it was Piacere, they were very busy but we were seated right away. Our server seemed to have been assigned to our table at the last minute and she seemed to be trying to handle half the restaurant on her own. She did pretty well considering. Aside from having to wait for extremely long periods of time for things (water, salads,entree, dessert, etc.) what made us really sad was the quality of the food. In the past we had been served carefully prepared, tasty dishes by extremely professional servers. This time the dishes looked like they'd been thrown together, food was almost cold by the time it reached us and the last straw was one of their signature desserts - a trio of mini-creme brulees. This has always been great in the past. This time they looked as though no attempt had been made to "brulee" them - no crackly sugar crust! It took almost 20 minutes to get our server back after she dropped them on our table on the fly! When I asked about it, she was very offhand; made no offer to replace them, nothing. I asked if the kitchen staff had changed and she said that it had. We haven't been back...

          1. I've eaten at Piacere for lunch during the work week. The food wasn't bad, but it wasn't the greatest either. I had a scallop salad - they were generous with the seafood and the salad was good, but I didn't care for the service too much; servers were slow on refilling the water and I had to wait some time for the bill.

            There is an interesting looking Italian restaurant that I've always wanted to try on El Camino . . . down the street from Judy's Flag Store (northbound towards Belmont). It's called Messina. Anyone ever been?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Naomi B

              Messina's is now permanently closed.

            2. You said you have been looking for good Italian in the "South Bay," but I consider San Carlos the Peninsula. :-) However, if you're willing to venture over to Hwy 92 and then Hwy 1, you may want to try Mezza Luna in Princeton, which offers excellent authentic mid-priced Italian food.

              Link: http://www.mezzalunabythesea.com

              3 Replies
              1. re: Wendy-san

                Any favorites to share at Mezza Luna?

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  My absolute favorite is the clam/mussels pasta (linguine ala toto) in white sauce. It tastes exactly like what I had in Florence. They also make a very nice pizzeta. But everything I've had there is quite good, including veal, soups, etc. I'm organizing a banquet there next week.

                2. re: Wendy-san
                  Christopher Azoti

                  Being a second generation east coast Italian. I highly recomend Mezza Luna in Princeton. It is by far the best Italian restaurant in Northern California that I have been to in the past 15 years.

                3. Vivace is the best!!!! We love it and go almost every month at least once. If your having a hard time finding something good then I can imagine what you're ordering. They have the best Ceasar Salad anywhere, the tortellini and gnocchi are amazing plus if you want another sauce instead, they switch it...just ask. The risotto is amazing and so is the salmon.
                  Even if you'd had a not so great experience I would try it again!!!

                  1. I am surprised no one has tried/mentioned Spasso, right on Laurel Avenue. It is Italian with mediterranean additions, including a tapas menu. MUCH less expensive than Piacere's and usually easier to get into. The chef does really unusual dishes and the wine list is terrific, including several flights. Piacere used to be a mid-priced place, but no more. After the recent remodel, the prices went up, and I do not think the quality matches.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: lkaren

                      One reason that no one had mentioned Spasso is that this thread is from 2005!

                      I've generally found Piacere to be good, not excellent. It is vaguely Italian, but more Cal-Ital. I think I actually prefer the more casual lunch menu to the dinner menu. Nice sandwiches, salads, and pastas. It is a great place to bring kids and adults though.

                      Spasso has been mediocre to poor every time I've been. The three times I've been there I've had poorly conceived, indifferently prepared dishes that were either way under seasoned or way over seasoned. The place seems to be packed most of the time though and they must have been doing well enough to open up the wine bar across the street.

                      For Italian (as opposed to Cal-Ital)...we had an excellent meal tonight that I would call fresh, seasonal, and quite authentic Italian at Donato Enoteca in Redwood City (in the old A Tavola spot). See this posting: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/629816.

                      San Carlos has turned into a real food town since 2005. I can't believe how much better the offerings are now than when we came here 5-ish years ago! The Refuge, Rumi, Pilita, Harmony, Speederia, and many more have opened up since then.

                      Here's a good thread that hits many of the highlights: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/507551.

                      1. re: lkaren

                        Spasso's menu looks like a TGIFridays barfed all over a crappy Italian menu. Completely boring, uninspired, and nontraditional. And the wine list, blah. Such a poor excuse for a wine list. All large producers and big names. To their credit, the mark up isnt terribly high, then again, the Beringer White Zin is marked up from 4 dollars retail to 22.

                        Theres a really nice new place thats opened called 888 Ristorante Italiano. Its very traditional, and relatively straightforward, but delicious. Entree prices are from 15-20. The wine list is pretty crappy as well, and corkage is 15, but if you use the "have a glass yourself trick" with your waiter, its normally a fail safe way to get out of it.