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OCAnn May 10, 2009 04:03 PM

On this recent trip to San Jose, I had a few spots on my to-try list: Iguana's Burritozilla, Nothing Bundt Cake, Dasaprakash...unfortunately, these didn't fit. Previous trips & searches on CH led us to Ramen Halu, Falafel Drive In and Mitsuwa's Hokkaido Fair.

However, I was able to try out some others which were quite the stand out. For one meal, we had ravioli from BERTUCELLI'S LA VILLA ITALIAN GOURMET DELI in Willow Glen. The best ravioli I've had was from Tom Douglas' Palace Kitchen years ago; they called theirs "plin" and it was the first pasta that actually melted in my mouth. I've never had anything that came close. This one almost does. It's by far the best ravioli I've had in California; the pasta here was pillowy. "Pillowy" is the only way to explain the texture; it's light and airy without a whole lot of "chew". The meat sauce was very tomato-ey and even the cold leftovers the next morning were quite good. $13 a quart. I'll have to spend more time trying other things here next time. http://www.wglavilla.com/

One dinner was spent at PICASSO'S TAPAS in Downtown SJ. In a word: WOW! Everything we ordered was fresh and extremely flavourful. We had Calamari Frito (fried calamari) , Pimientos de Piquillo (piquillo peppers), Almejas en Salsa Verde (sauted clams), Chile Champinon (sauted mushrooms) and Pollo al Ajillo (sauted chicken).

The calamari was lightly battered; many places are heavy handed in the batter, this was very tasty without being overpowered by breading or seasoning...it was so good, that it didn't need the accompanying sauce. The piquillo peppers were delicious as well. Peppers were stuffed with seafood flavoured with a cream sauce. The sauce here was so good that we had to use the bread (nice crusty exterior and soft interior) to sop up the sauce and eventually clean the plate. Same goes for the mushrooms and clams; nice fresh garlic flavour and again, we used the bread to enjoy the sauce. Everything was just so good, fresh and tasty. Nothing was overpowering or heavy handed; just nicely seasoned and extremely flavourful. Although five dishes to feed four adults wasn't quite filling, we decided to leave room for dessert later. Total bill for food with tax (no alcohol) came to $60. This is an absolute must return. http://www.picassostapas.com/

So after dinner in downtown, we headed to the Campbell's Pruneyard area for dessert. A quick look in the case at SUGAR BUTTER FLOUR resulted in the selection of carrot cake, cheese cake and a napolean--all in personal size. We got home, quartered each dessert and had a tasting. The carrot cake was the best of the lot. There were many layers of cake and frosting. Very good, but a bit on the sweet side. Cheesecake was good, but not so great that I'd return for it; same goes for the napolean. All in a a good neighbourhood spot, but nothing I'd go out of my way for. The three pieces cost $14. http://www.sugarbutterflour.com/

I like living in OC, with its many ethnic enclaves and eateries, but am quite impressed with SJC's food scene. Not a lot of activity on these boards on SJC, which is surprising considering the variety of offerings to be had.

  1. k
    katya May 19, 2009 04:31 PM

    Thanks for the report. I've been wondering about La Villa Deli for awhile since I've heard their ravioli is fantastic. Tell me, do they have tables and chairs if I want to order ravioli there and sit down and eat?


    Next time for your to-try list:
    -Zeni (Ethiopian; San Jose)
    -Turmeric (Indian - especially the weekend buffet dinner; Sunnyvale)
    -Amber Cafe (Indian with lots of chaat; Mountain View)
    -Gourmet Express (Middle Eastern - weekday lunch only; Milpitas)
    -Shana Thai (Thai; Mountain View)
    -Real Ice Cream/Bangalore Cafe (exotic ice cream flavors; Santa Clara)

    I've done write-ups for a number of these places on Chowhound so you'll see my detailed ordering strategies if you look them up.

    Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant
    1320 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

    Turmeric Restaurant
    141 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

    Gourmet Express
    463 Valley Way, Milpitas, CA 95035

    Amber Cafe
    600 W El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA

    Shana Thai Restaurant
    311 Moffett Blvd, Mountain View, CA 94043

    Real Ice Cream and Bangalore Cafe
    3077 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA

    3 Replies
    1. re: katya
      OCAnn May 20, 2009 09:01 AM

      I'm not sure if they have tables inside; I waited around the corner while someone picked up the raviolis. Sorry!

      Thank you for that list...I'll check those out next time I'm in town. BTW, how does Shana Thai compare to Krung ThaI?

      1. re: OCAnn
        katya May 20, 2009 12:06 PM

        I think Shana is much better. Except for the Bags of Gold appetizer, there hasn't been a single misstep in any of the dishes I've ordered. The food has all been either really good versions of Thai standards, really good version with a new component thrown in (pan fried slightly breaded chicken in cashew chicken, lots of fresh veggies in pad kee mao), or something new and fantastic (green curry roti).

        Krung Thai (the "New" one on N. Winchester) has a great garlic tofu dish, but other than that I've thought the food was good and definitely above average but not great. Also, the place is so busy it's hard to have a conversation.

        We alternated between New Krung Thai and The Old Siam (with brief showings by Thai Chili and House of Siam) as our go-to Thai restaurant before we found Shana Thai, where we now go every weekend without fail.

        1. re: katya
          OCAnn May 20, 2009 12:55 PM

          Thank you for your insight! I'll have to add Shana Thai to my list. =)

    2. rworange May 17, 2009 08:34 PM

      >>> Not a lot of activity on these boards on SJC, which is surprising considering the variety of offerings to be had.

      Too true. Really appreciate the report. Y'all come back soon.

      1. daveena May 11, 2009 07:12 PM

        Thanks for posting these - there's all sorts of good stuff in the South Bay, and only a handful of people covering the area, while on the LA board, it seems like more than half of the activity is about places in the OC

        Bertucelli's La Villa Deli
        1319 Lincoln Ave, San Jose, CA 95125

        sugar butter flour
        1875 S Bascom Ave Ste 152, campbell, ca

        Picasso's Tapas Restaurant
        62 W Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113

        1. r
          rosiella1 May 11, 2009 04:29 PM

          I'm glad you were able to go to La Villa. It's a thing to crave - them raviolis! Their sandwiches are also very good.

          I also tried Sugar Butter Flour before but it's nothing spectacular. I think next time you should try Flower Flour which is in Willow Glen as well (near La Villa). As for other dessert places - you're in OC... you're a driveable distance to a Crumbs Cupcake! I ENVY you!

          Glad you enjoyed your trip

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