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Oct 1, 2013 11:56 AM

SF or Peninsula Fresh Pasta restaurant

Where do you like to go for fresh pasta, mid price range?

I like Aperto in SF but the tables are so close together you feel the people sitting next to you are your tablemates. People tell me they like Delarosa on Chestnut .. don't know if the pasta is fresh.

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  1. La Ciccia, Incanto, Perbacco, Cotogna

    1. How about somewhere on the Peninsula? I recently moved to Palo Alto and can't always get up to the city. I had good pasta at Osteria Coppa in San Mateo but the service was really lousy (super slow/inattentive).

      13 Replies
      1. re: meganinlosfeliz

        Judging by their Desco spinoff in Oakland, Donato Enoteca in Redwood City.

        1. re: meganinlosfeliz

          Let's see, I haven't tried Osteria Coppa but I have tried just about everywhere around palo alto.

          I don't think any of these are in the same league with the big guns in SF. If anyone is, it might be the village pub. None of these places have pasta as good as decent homemade pasta, stuff that has good chew and that bright fresh taste. You can get fresh made, and some pleasant sauces, but you're not getting Quince or F+W type.

          My personal favorite in PA is Vero. It looks a little run down these days, but the pasta's still good, and the booths near the back are cozy. Wine list always has some good stuff by the glass. I took a friend who really likes pasta here and he said, shrug, it's ok, which is high praise.

          The popular acclaim goes to Osteria. It's been there forever, it really does feel italian. It always feels a little heavy, for me, so I haven't been there in quite a while.

          Strada --- I can't tell you. Didn't have the pasta, but I've liked a few meals there. Figo --- didn't have the pasta, didn't like what I did have, but it was when they were opening. They do have a wood oven for pizza.

          Renzo - I grudgingly like this place, and we keep going back, but really the pasta isn't of the first order. The whole place is very comforting, though.

          Terun (CA Ave) - might be pretty good. We've just had the pizza and some great meatballs, it's hard to order pasta when the pizza's so good. Same, exactly, for Napolitano.

          Hidden Gem - Gravity (the wine bar). Although it's part of the Peninsula Creamery / Reposado / Scratch chain (very good upscale food but not great), we're really fond of the kitchen here. Went there just this week for pasta specifically, they always have a ragu that's insanely comforting on a wet night.

          Cafe Riace - skip it
          Spalti - haven't tried

          Donato Enoteca - worth a try, I haven't had the pasta, but they're pretty serious folks. It's had a lot of popular acclaim on the board but I've never gotten hooked on it.

          Quattro - the restaurant at the Four Seasons - ranks in the Yelp listings for pasta. I've been over for bar bites a few times, and it's a very standard super high end hotel, which should do pasta very well.

          The sleeper - village pub. I went with my sister a few years ago, and she's veg, and she had the pasta and mushrooms - she said "oh well, at least you'll have a good meal", and it was GREAT, she claimed best pasta ever, changed the way she thought about pasta, not just your only-veg throw away.

          1. re: bbulkow

            We've tried most of what's on bbulkow's list over the years, and I'm in general agreement with what he's said. To add to that, there's Vero in Palo Alto and Locanda Positano in San Carlos, not to be confused with Locanda by the Delfina group. I didn't really like either of those.

            I've been to Osteria Coppa twice, first when it was new and a few weeks ago. The chef used to work at Quince, so some of the signatures from Quince/Cotogna show up, like the Raviolo, Agnolotti dal Plin, sformato, butterscotch budino. Regrettably, none were available on the revisit. The pizza's are still no good, but the pastas were improved. Not up to SF standards but decent for the area if a bit pricey at $20 each for some.

            The only other place I've been to on the Peninsula that I'd return to for the pasta is Donato Enoteca.

            @bbulkow - Vesta serves pasta?

            1. re: Jon914

              I typed Vesta when I meant Vero and corrected it later. Vesta has no pasta.

            2. re: bbulkow

              Vero's Bucatini all'Amatriciana is quite good.

            3. re: meganinlosfeliz

              I've not been recently, but I can say I've been happy with my meals at Donato Enoteca.

              Closer to Palo Alto, I've been liking Portola Kitchen. I've been four times in the year and a half since it opened. Two of the housemade pasta dishes continue on the menu, so they must be popular, and I've had each of these twice.

              The two are the Lumache and the Torchio. The lumache has Italian sausage flavor but is not dominated by meat. I like the chili kick and the broccoli pesto sauce. This pasta is a chewy style.

              And the torchio is scented with saffron and served with a lamb ragu. The ragu has some tomato in it, but this is truly a meat sauce and very lamb-y with a refreshing bit of mint. This pasta has a silkier, softer texture on the palate.


              My favorite pasta dish was the bouncy bucatini with a simple marinara made with Portola Valley tomatoes. But a second time, it was not nearly as good.

              I would say that the pasta is not transcendent. But these dishes are very good, and a bargain at the price, as is the rest of the menu here. Portola Kitchen is a nice mid-week meal, neighborhood kind of place. It's always busy. Since it opened, I've not been making the drive to Osteria Coppa when I'm down in Palo Alto.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Thanks for mentioning Portola Kitchen. We've been there once for a mid-week lunch, and the Lumache's exactly as you describe, a light chewy pasta accented by chili. It's simple and homey.

                I wasn't impressed with the pizza (undercooked, below blonde on our visit) or the service, so we haven't returned, but it's another choice in the area that hasn't been talked up much.

                (Curiously, in your picture, the pizza is rather done. It must have been an off-day, but all the pizzas leaving the kitchen looked pretty similar in doneness.)

                1. re: Jon914

                  That pizza was terrible. I asked for it scorched since I had noticed the pies around us that looked underbaked. The doneness wasn't the biggest problem. Basically, the crust had no flavor or texture. Thanks for asking so I would remember to comment. We've only ordered a pizza once, and will not again.

                  The lumache is my brother's favorite dish there, I believe. He lives in PA and has eaten there many more times than I have.

                2. re: Melanie Wong

                  Visited Portola Kitchen once, liked it, just haven't been back --- no particular reason.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Hmm, guess I pulled that menu link from some cache. Here's the updated menu for Spring 2014 with a bit different menu selections and higher prices.

                    And I see that there's a new executive chef, Ryan Ellison. Looking at opening chef, Guillaume Bienaime's LinkedIn profile, it appears that he left in November 2013, which is the last time I ate there.

                    Now we'll need to hear from anyone who's been there under the new regime. The restaurant is looking for line cooks.

                    And Chef Bienaime' is opening his own place in Palo Alto taking over Roast Shop's space downtown. Woohoo!

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Thanks for the update! We sure could use a good French / Cal-French in this area.


                      1. re: mdg

                        Lure + Till opens next week. Chef Kelly is ex-Gitane, Angele and La Folie, so he's got some French chops. And on topic for this thread, he'll be making pasta in-house.

                  2. re: meganinlosfeliz

                    While it's not an Italian restaurant per se, Mayfield in Palo Alto usually has a pasta or two on the menu. I found a photo of the lovely ricotta gnocchi with hen of the woods mushrooms I had in 2011.