Paolo's San Jose - need recs for dinner tonight
The hubby and I are headed to Paolo's tonight for dinner. We were both craving Italian and decided to try Paolo's after seeing it recommended here on the board. Since it is our first time there, we would appreciate any recommendations you may have on standouts/must try's from the menu. We have no dietary or taste restrictions of any kind. :) Also, would they do a smaller pasta course so we can also get main courses? The pastas look like they are priced as main course-size portions.
Decor and Ambience:
The setting is elegant. The restaurant was very sparse for a Friday night (we had an 8pm reservation), so we were seated at a table looking out the window toward the river. The view was quite lovely. It was quiet and upscale feeling, but not stuffy.
Outstanding! Our server was very attentive and split our soup for us into 2 bowls when we said we were sharing. He was also very friendly and welcoming, checking on us regularly without being intrusive.
Here is where Paolo's fell a bit flat. I wish I had caught the Merc review in time. Started out with pan-roasted polenta with asparagus, prosciutto, and poached egg. That was quite lovely. The soup of the day was a Mussel Chowder. There were good sized mussel pieces (no shell) and a fair quantity of them. The soup itself is on the thin side, not quite so much a chowder. Flavor was good.
We got 2 pastas (side portions) to try next. The linguine with clams had excellent noodles, perfectly al dente. The clams were fresh (6 in shell for the side portion) though 1 was slightly overcooked. The broth unfortunately was too salty (and I love salt and have a high tolerance for it). Hubby liked the lamb shank agnolotti though I would have liked a little more filling. We both thought the agnolottis could have used a few more minutes in the pot. The sauce was flavorful and very rich.
For entrees, we had the veal saltimbocca and the duck breast. Our findings were exactly the same as the Merc's. The veal rolls were rather tough, and hubby didn't think the sauce went all that well with the dish. The celery root puree was interesting but actually tasted better without the sauce. The best part of that dish was the mushrooms in the sauce... The duck breast on the other hand was very well executed, each piece pink and succulent with nice crisp skin. The sauce for it was good too and complemented the braised greens much better than the veal sauce (same greens in both).
We were too full to try dessert.
The server told us (after we expressed our surprise at how few guests there were) that summer is slow for them, that during theater season they serve 300 diners before curtain time. And I certainly would consider going there for a pre-show dinner if I wanted a nice meal - we could see the CPA from our table, right across a short quaint bridge.
I think overall the food was pretty good - nothing exceptional and a couple of misses, but other dishes were executed well. I just wish we had chosen better (i.e. skipped the saltimbocca).
Thanks so much for taking the time to report back! Sorry to hear that the saltimbocca was disappointing...
Did you have any wine? Sounds like they have an extensive list, and their Ombretta di Paolo signature cocktail w/ artichoke liqueur and citrus notes sounds interesting. Some of their desserts like the donuts filled w/ lemon mascarpone sound enticing.
Are there other restaurants that you enjoy in downtown SJ? La Pastaia in the De Anza Hotel has been recommended as a nice Italian place in the area, but I have yet to try it.
re: Carb Lover
No, we did not have any wine. We are not wine drinkers, and I myself am not a drinker period (my tolerance is so low that half a drink is often too much for me to handle).
As for other restaurants in downtown SJ, I do like La Pastaia quite a bit. I haven't been in probably a year, but their pastas have always been good. There was a daily special of pumpkin ravioli with sage butter sauce that was particularly memorable, and the linguine with clams was also a regular pick for me. It tends to be relatively easy to get a table there also due to it being a hotel restaurant. There is plenty of seating. I seriously considered going to La Pastaia last Friday, but the curiosity to try a new place won out. Perhaps I should have stuck to my instinct lol.
I used to like Arcadia in the Marriott, but the quality has really gone downhill. I read just the other day that the original executive chef is now heading up Olio in downtown Campbell. That is probably why. I haven't been to Olio yet but I am hopeful.
Went to 71 St Peter a few months back for a company dinner. We only had 3 entrees to choose from because it was a large group, so I can't comment on the menu as a whole. We shared a selection of appetizers also. Overall the execution was pretty good, though nothing came across as particularly enlightened. The atmosphere and decor were pleasant.