Santa Barbara - pls help find an Italian restaurant from long ago
Heading to SB this weekend. It has been probably 10 years, and knowing restaurants open and close often, there is a good chance I won't find the one I'm remembering. But maybe...
This place was an Italian restaurant, located in the big outdoor mall on the main commercial street in SB. What made the resto unique was that the portions and prices were smaller than what you would ordinary find at a mid/casual resto, without it being a "small plates" restaurant. They were just normal human portions, well priced. The food was tasty - lots of different pastas and pizzas. They had indoor seating with murals on the walls and I think some outdoor as well. I'm remembering stone/ceramic tile floors and fountains. And totally on a limb here, but it may have had Romeo in the name...
Anyone? Does this ring a bell?
I am guessing you mean Paseo Nuevo which is our downtown mall. There was an Italian restaurant in the open plaza interior area of the mall that I believe was run by Mollie of Mollie's Trattoria fame. It has closed but she still runs her legendary Italian place in Montecito.
There are others downtown if you want "Italian", from the mundane to the occasionally inspired. There is also Aldo's which has its own large interior courtyard patio located directly on State Street. As a local, for "Italian" I like Via Maestra 42 in the San Roque Upper State Street part of town or Ca Dario downtown as well as Mollie's Trattoria in Montecito. Bucatini's can also be very nice but is lately getting some mixed reviews.
However, our favorite is located out of town in Carpinteria - about 15 minute drive to the south - Gianfranco's which we think is worth a destination drive. I use "" marks around the word "Italian" because each has a special regional focus and after too many decades of "red sauce Italian" in this country and too many years having lived in italy, there is no such thing really as "Italian" in my own mind.
Other "Italian" spots that have fans are Chase, Trattoria Vittoria, Olio et Limone, Passcucci's, Emilio's. For pizza, our own favorite is Giovanni's on Upper State Street or Paesano's on San Andres, Westside.
My only comment is this is not a restaurant I put on my own list of local recommendations. But it does cater to families, is dog friendly, has lively buzz and good intentions as a locally owned partner with this community. They have created a special and loyal niche in this notoriously fickle restaurant town.