Terrone - VPN Pizzeria in Palo Alto
Friends in Palo Alto just sent up the bat signal that Terrone got its liquor license. Huh, wha, I didn't know there was another VPN certified pizza place around. Can't keep up with them (e.g., Pizzalina, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/891166#7909170 ). In any case, looks like it had a soft opening two weeks ago. The photos of the pies on the website look good, and the menu has handmade cavatelli, so I'm wondering . . . who's tried it?
448 South California Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94306
Mon - Sat: 11:30 am - 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Sun: 11:30 am - 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
I looked at this thread again and noticed Melanie had made a mistake in the title and the reference to "another VPN certified pizza place."
Terrone's pizzaiolo passed the training course to become "licensed" (as some call it) by the AVPN, as a pizza cook. (I understand he was in the same training class with the owner-pizzaiolo at Napoletana Pizzeria.) However, VPN certification of a _restaurant,_ which is how I read the title and start of this topic, is a much bigger deal, unlikely for a just-opened restaurant. It took Napoletana it took almost two years, and that one remains the sole current VPN affiliated restaurant in the southern part of the Bay Area. USA list:
Terrone was among restaurants I cited in other threads that had expressed _aspirations_ to VPN certification, in local media. If that happens, Terrone will appear in the list linked above, and can display a poster with the VPN logo and the restaurant's certification number.
Thanks for the correction. You might agree that Terrone's statement about VPN certification on its website is misleading or at least muddled.
The other restaurant I mentioned above, Pizzalina, has since removed reference to VPN on its website.
As far as how long it takes for an establishment to become certified, Cupola in SF opened June 13, 2011 and was certified by November.
re: Melanie Wong
How about these data: A16 claims on its web site to've opened Feb. 2004, but is listed as VPN registered the month before that. Which seems inconsistent with what Napoletana's owner has mentioned about certification requirements, currently at least. Anyway, AVPN's list is the obvious authority on who is VPN-certified. Some Bay Area pizzerias appear over-eager for this cachet.
A16, soon after it opened, was my introduction to VPN pizzas. The impression at the time was that they were rather simple pizzas, recognizably related to others around the region; and yet on tasting them, it seemed that the simple details had been brought up to a level of quality or perfection, not so easy to find elsewhere.
Happy but not ecstatic
It's VPN. Great high quality ingredients. The tone of the tomato, in particular, was vibrant. The toppings were almost non-existent, but as a stylistic thing. Service was good (a tad undertrained but pleasant enough). The owner was making the rounds quite a lot, very chatty, on a monday. The place was full at 7:30 (again, monday).
By the glass wine list was short.
Overall - I like the not-exactly-vero pizzas at howie's and especially Vesta better. Terrone certainly has a thing going, and is aces above the pretenders on University Ave.
Did not try the pasta, we wanted a light meal
It's a style thing. Most people that I know prefer more toppings and a crisper crust than a classic Neopolitan pie delivers.
We had also ordered the broccoli rabe and favas, but it never came and we didn't miss it. William also tried the arugala salad with favas, eggplant polpette and panna cotta at dinner.
Wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of the schialatielli. I have been dreaming about that dish since lunching there a week ago. They must use 00 flour to achieve that texture.
We were, however, disappointed with the pizza. We ordered the Terrone, which the lunch menu described as San Marzano tomato, mozzarella and spicy sausage. It's the same pizza we always order at Napoletana in Mt View. When we see the word sausage, we practically sit up and beg.
When the pizza arrived, it had a scant amount of penny-sized, very thinly sliced meat still in the casing, not the sausage crumbles that I was expecting. The quantity was minimal, at most two pieces/slice, and it just didn't taste like italian sausage, although frankly, it was sliced so thin the taste was obscured by the sauce. When I went home and read the lunch menu on their website, the Terrone was listed as having salame, not the sausage that the restaurant menu had highlighted. I then compared the on-line lunch menu to the on-line dinner menu, and noticed a discrepancy in the ingredients in the Terrone. Dinner said sausage, not salame. So there was not only a difference between the website lunch/dinner menu for the same item, there was a difference between the lunch menu we were given at the restaurant and the lunch menu listed on-line.
Confused? So were we, although given the top notch ingredients of everything else, we'd certainly give it another try. Lunch came to $92 before tip (1 pasta, 1 pizza, 1 brussel sprouts, and 2 glasses of wine at $12.00 each). Not inexpensive by any means, and the same prices as at dinner.
Coincidentally, my brother had the Terrone pizza the night before. He made the same comparison to Napoletana's version! Besides the sausage, he felt Napoletana's crust was superior. But Monday's pizza was different in flavor, texture, and had a less deep rim of blank crust. He'd taken the last slice of Terrone pie home and I had a chance to try it side by side with the leftover slice of the Tirolese a couple days later. Just focusing on the flavor of the crust, Monday's pizza was notably better tasting.
Wonder if anyone has tried the orecchiette yet?
A week ago, my brother and I had a late lunch at Terrone. It’s located in Bistro Elan’s old space, across the street from VVW. Funny thing is, he’d eaten dinner there Sunday night but was more than willing to return with me the next day to try more things.
To start, warm farro laced with silky roasted red peppers, fragrant parsley and scallions topped with sautéed calamari rings and chewy tentacles, $12. Peeking out from underneath that generous pile, a pair of thin toasted crostini. We were not served any other bread.
My glass of 2011 Feudi Falanghina, $9, was just the right match for the dish’s herbal tones and seafood.
Our pizza and pasta dishes came out at the same time.
Scialatielli, $17, turned out to be long, squared off strands of housemade egg pasta. We loved the dense, bouncy texture. Even with the help of a spoon, twirling the springy pasta around a fork proved near impossible. They’d immediately unwind and spatter sauce on the table. No limp noodles here! William preferred the scialatielli to the previous night’s cavatelli, saying our lunch dish was firmer to the bite. Sauced simply with silken fresh porcini, a whiff of fresh rosemary, buttery olive oil, parsley, and a bit of parmesan, the quality of the pasta really shined through.
Pizza-wise, we ordered the Tirolese, $17, topped with San Marzano tomato, fior di latte mozzarella, Gorgonzola, and speck. The pizza was cut into six slices then the thin slices of smoky speck laid over the top. This made for a more dramatic presentation, but was a little hard to cut through at the table.
A minimalist approach with the mozzarella on this pizza, then a tiny bit of random gorgonzola would hit the palate with a funky KABOOM.
The very thin crust was mottled to my liking, but a little overbaked and golden-brown for my taste. My brother disagreed, preferring the crispiness on this pie to the usual Napolitana softness. That said, this pizza was still fork and knife-able. William also commented that this crust was far more flavorful and bubbled than the bland example the night before. It did turn somewhat chewy as it cooled down. Here’s the upskirt,
For dessert, we wanted the caramel gelato with sea salt and olive oil that I’m hearing good things about, but it was sold out. Instead we had the Tortino al Cioccolato with Vanilla Gelato, $8. Soft enough to collapse, the rich, dark chocolate cake did not have the clichéd molten center. Both the tortino and the gelato were calibrated to Italian sweetness level, which is to say, just barely sweet. The lightly tart and citrus-y crème served on the side was turned up higher on the sugar meter to add more sweetness. Our server shuttled my gelato question back to the chef, but returned from the kitchen only able to divulge that it’s produced by a small family operation in Berkeley. Perhaps Latest Scoop? I liked the elastic texture and on-the-verge-of-melting temperature. Though the black flecks of bean were visible, William felt it tasted more like cream-flavored panna gelato than vanilla.
Other details --- William felt the service was more attentive at his dinner when more staff are on duty. His pizza and pasta had been coursed consecutively at dinner. Perhaps this is not done at lunch under the assumption that patrons have less time for the mid-day meal. The TVs in the bar area are tuned to soccer. The black upholstered chairs are very comfortable with firm, supportive padding. This is a quite a change from the intentionally uncomfortable seating at nearly every other pizzeria, upscale or not, that discourages lingering. Corkage is $15 per bottle.
With tax, gratuity, and a bottle of San Pellegrino our tab for two came to $84. That’s quite a bit for lunch. Yet, as one who has had more than a fair share of bad and still pricey meals in Palo Alto, I’ll say that the food delivers here. Since prices seem to be the same at dinner, I’m more likely to come in the evening. Terrone’s been open a month now and is ready for prime time.
We went for dinner last night. Had arugula salad (perfect), lasagna (incredibly tasty and balanced), and the Quattro Stagioni Pizza (well flavored crust and extraordinary toppings). Gave into temptation and finished with Panna Cotta with berries and Chocolate Tart with vanilla gelato. Sublime!
Dined in front room and walked through the pleasant rear patio on our way out. Both areas were full of happy families, especially happy Italians rejoicing over the food and atmosphere.
We will be glad to come back often, Recommend you come and try Terrone.
re: Melanie Wong
I promised to write up both when I went to Campo, but I've been focusing on the new Chinese places. Figo was quite a bust for me, but I was there first week and we all know how that can go.
A _LOT_ of new openings right now in greater Palo Alto - Steam, Tacolicious, Figo, Campo, this Terrone.
Speaking of Pizza, I talked to the guys at Vesta, they said they seat people who are sensitive to noise in the back patio. They've talked to some contractors and are struggling with how to cost effectively damp the sound while retaining the original character of the room. It's a _gorgeous_ period room with old tile, classic proportions, the quote was "we didn't spend half a million redoing this building to cover it over with drapes". Our strategy is go on the late side when it's emptying out, because GF doesn't like drafty outdoor patios even with the best heaters; so it's our call at about 9pm. Their pizza is still boss and they're in heavy rotation at our house.