Peter Borrone of Cafe Borrone and his wife have recently opened Vesta in downtown RWC. They're serving woodfired neopolitan style pizzas. Has anyone had a chance to go yet?
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I just tried their pizza today. The crust is great with the right amount of char and chew. I had the mushroom, goat cheese, thyme and truffle oil pizza. Nice assortment of mixed mushrooms and mostly well balanced. I thought they overdid the thyme a little bit but outside of that it was delicious. I think it would be amazing with some thick pancetta but that's just my opinion. Nice addition to Redwood City!!
Sounds good, hannah, thanks for giving it the once over. When I saw the title of this thread on the message board, I thought it might be the Vesta Flatbread folks from the East Bay.
Anyway, here's the website for Vesta in Redwood City.
Lunch and dinner, closed Sundays and Mondays
re: Melanie Wong
Very good but not great, an excellent addition to downtown. Will return, especially if they up their game a little.
They carry Lush Gelato, but only a few of the tamer flavors - vanilla, chocolate, etc Good looking, well positioned espresso machine. Although it's a restaurant, I'm sure they'll be happy soaking up post movie and post fox crowds for a gelato.
Across from Mandaloun, classic building, great space. The oven is one of the standard wood models I've seen elsewhere.
In general, I like my pizza of this style with a little more sauce, and a little more salt, and a little more burn on the crust. I know there's not supposed to be much sauce, but after eating a lot of pizza in northern italy this month, I know I like a touch more than what they're doing. The quality of the cheese and dough is very, very high. This is not as good as howie's. Howie's is hauntingly good. Howie's is on the once-a-month rotation, I don't think Vesta will get that high.
Other fun stuff on the menu: we had mushroom toast, which was like deconstructed mushroom soup - crouton, with mushrooms, and a soup-like puree. Fun.
Open until 11pm, sidewalk tables. Interior is too loud: they need to put up some fabric. Service was fun and perky and only slightly too intrusive. Peter was there enjoying the early days of the new place.
A margherita is $13, a good price.
re: Melanie Wong
Frankly, I'm not sure. There's enough sage on the menu that there's a level of CA adaptation, but crust-wise they're going pretty straight ahead. I didn't really dig through the menu, because they had me at margherita.
I am a massive fan of cafe barrone. Is CB trying to be Italian? No. French? More french than italian, but no. Californian? No. CB isn't trying to be anything other than the best cafe barrone it can be, which seems to be Peter's concept, and I heartily endorse it.
He needs to lay in a stock of Howie's smoked mozzarella.
GF mentioned the "mushroom toast" is one of those dishes that the chef has a personal touch with, but no one will order because it doesn't sound so great. It disappears off the menu somewhere in the second month due to a lack of marketing. "Inverted mushroom soup" sounds pretentious, but it'll get orders.
It's still nice. Extraordinarily pleasant service, more flavors of Lush, still needs more char on the crust and a little more salt, the meatballs are light and tasty but not as good as that mushroom toast. Front room was very noisy with a boisterous group, but there's a nice back patio as well as the front patio.
Soundtrack there is very well chosen - they rolled through most of the white album except for Revolution 9 (I hope I don't get them in trouble with BMI/ASCAP). Soundtrack is clearly handchosen not from one of those lousy services.
They poured an extra beer by mistake, and just brought it over gratis. Classy.
Place was empty at 10pm, we were the last to leave, and they were still open for another hour. Go late!
re: Melanie Wong
Third time was more of a charm. We wouldn't normally sample anywhere so frequently, but a buddy texted me right when we were looking for a nosh at about 10pm, so we met at Vesta. Both pizzas - sausage and honey, as well as green olive - were excellent. Both had more zip, between the honey and the olives. The sausage had a nice char, I could have used more on the green olive, but arguably the lack of char was better on the more delicate pie.
My friend has an exceptional palate, grew up in northern italy, eats a lot in the thai and viet areas outside DC, and he pronounced the pizza "good". Good, for him, means very good.
The staff was very nice about us hanging out late. We were the only people in the joint from about 11pm to 11:30 (11pm stated close time), and they didn't rush us, just kept the big doors open and let us enjoy the evening. I think the owner sent most of the staff home by that point, and they were back by the oven enjoying themselves too.
Although - for god's sake - they have to do something about the noise. They're using music to mask the echos when there are few people, and when there are a lot of people you can't hear yourself. They need more heaters outside.
In the interest of science, I don't like asking for anything extra like "more char" because it's not the same experience a random person gets. I even debate asking for chinese and thai food "spicy", even though I appreciate the chef's problem of deciding whether to go guilo or native spicing. I want to let the chef do his thing.
On other notes
Chokolate in PA has closed, covered with plywood. It was never my favorite, didn't go more than twice in the time they were open, although I liked the outdoor space. I hope we get something nice to replace it.
Fraiche's new location at the corner of Hamilton in the old AG Ferrari is doing land-office business, I expect quality hasn't changed. The old fraiche looks like it's housing a random software startup now.
I hit Manresa's lounge yesterday (again, in the interest of science) and it was nothing to write home about. The cocktail list is very nice - caroway infusion, sorrel infusion, things like that - but the "lounge" is really a couch right inside the front door where you can linger while waiting for your table. The only food option is "bar snack" which is some very tasty home made potato chips (we got them fresh from the frier), but the couch isn't very comfortable. There's only one decent spot to sit with another person (where the couch makes a corner) and nothing comfortable for more than 2 people.
We saw another couple walk in and try to get some "food at the bar" and were turned away. There were reservations available after 8pm (which is insane - a place as good as manresa with same-evening reservations available on a saturday night, just second seating!), but the staff wouldn't be talked into any "lounge" food action.
I am a little worried about the revamped layout, because they really have more tables now. Manresa seems to have problems when they get busy, and the best meals I've had are on Wednesday when the place is half-full.
The cocktail itself - I had just been to an urban winery (Traviesio), and the last taste was this bombshell syrah at nearly 16% alcohol, a good wine but so high octane without food that I couldn't taste the cocktail properly. I'll give them a pass so far - it would be silly to complain that it had little taste - the fault was mine.
Still - don't stop by hoping for a real "lounge" experience.
The quality at new Fraiche hasn't changed. They even have another machine now, for two more varieties, which are often oreo (dairy, really does taste like an oreo, in a good way) and red wine sorbet (non-dairy, so refreshing). The menu is bigger in general - more coffee options (all Blue Bottle), plus a hot quinoa cereal option, I believe. I would eat here every day if I could.
"In the interest of science, I don't like asking for anything extra like "more char" because it's not the same experience a random person gets."
That's what I do the first time I try a place (and if I intend to report here) in order to get a sense of the chef's palate and set point. But once I figure out that I would like my food cooked a little spicier, more charred, etc., I find out if it is possible and make the request, then be sure to say what changes I asked for if I post here. Otherwise, I'd rather spend my money elsewhere that's more to my taste. I've often had a server come back after consulting with the kitchen say to me that the way I've asked is how the chef would like to make it but the general public can't handle it. So, I'm happy to let the kitchen express its best self.
re: Melanie Wong
Your attitude it healthier. I got takeout from Crouching Tiger tonight and it was toned down --- same as the last few times I ordered from there --- and I haven't figured out what to tell them. Make it authentic, like you used to?
My one exception is Pizza My Heart. I was told I should order pizza thin crust "A GoGo Style" because - a while ago - they had some pizza makers from the old pizza a gogo. I'm sure those pizza makers have come and gone, but Pizza My Heart is, for my money, by far the best delivery pizza when ordered Thin Crust (Amici might be better, but has a $25 minimum, which PMH doesn't). I expect most of their hearty college ordering guys prefer the higher calories of the Thick Crust.
It is now on the Restaurant Roulette list.
Estampas Peruanas - HUGE servings, coastal peru, not good enough to return unless very hungry
Johnny Rockets - generic, as expected, but the AYCE fries were a pleasant surprise
Victoria Taqueria - San Diego style, good place to meet cops
Los Gemelos opened a bigger, brighter branch on ECR. Have not tried
Paradise Kebab House - Nice mom and pop, fresh taste, will return
Sushiya house - surprisingly pleasant for rolls & drinking, low price, but unlikely to return
Martin's West has bacon Manhattans again, but they're not as good as before
Movie Groove coffee was good drip, it moved
BackYard coffee is the best in RWC (ecco beans)
Redwood City has a new absolutely first-rate pizzeria and casual Italian restaurant! This new restaurant takes a place alongside Redwood City's growing list of Bay Area gems: Donato Enoteca, Martins West, Gourmet Haus Stadt, and any number of tacquerias.
Vesta is the real deal: pizza surpassed in my experience only by Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco; a small list of killer small plates (the roasted cauliflower with tiny specks of serrano chilis, mushroom toast, exceptional burrata); a great and reasonable wine list; and a small but terrific collection of beer on tap.
All the kinks in service -- mentioned in some early reviews -- were worked out during my visit mid-week on a perfect summer early evening.
Definitely worth visiting from around the Bay Area, and destined, I predict, to be a place for regulars and a watering hole for folks strolling around downtown Redwood City.
I haven't been in yet myself, but I did get a leftover quarter of the arugula and burrata pizza that I warmed up a little before eating. Even in that non-fresh state, I did enjoy the tenderness of the very thin crust, the mottle scorching on the highest points, and the yeastiness of the dough. Can't wait to drop in.
Update: Vesta is now far above Howie's. I did a back-to-back (different days!), and Vesta was way above. The char, the beer list, the atmosphere. Even the GF admitted vesta's superiority, and she's been a Howie's fanboi. I was there with my father, and he salted the pizza before eating, which was staggering - I think they gave him the chef's own pinch bowl. Good service, not to make a fuss.
The best thing you can say about howie's is they have anchovies and a "your own toppings", where at Vesta you just get their great selections - but Vesta crust is kicking it - and they have 3 or 4 pizzas I would eat every day for the rest of my life. The mushroom toast is still there.
I thought their margarita today was stunning. The local tomato punch in the sauce was great - none of that winter waxy tomato feel. It's summer, damn it, and you can taste summer at Vesta. Howie's tomato base was about like it usually is - just fine - but not height-of-summer-tomato awesome.