At Vito's Ristorante, guests must fight the urge to walk into the walls. The restaurant’s gorgeous murals depict the alluring Italian countryside, serving eyes a visual feast of verdant fields, glassy waters, and marshmallow clouds. The aroma of chicken parmigiana and housemade marina sauce serenades olfactory senses from the kitchen, where chefs use time-honored culinary traditions to conjure up the Old-World flavors found in the veal marsala and linguine fra diavolo—spicy marinara over pasta, shrimp, and mussels. A new type of ravioli graces the menu every week, and past daily specials have included lamb chops with polenta and swordfish dressed in mango salsa and a musketeer hat. For a more urban, downtown vibe, Vito Ristorante’s V-Lounge hosts special events where guests can get their fill of libations and entertainment.
When a 13-year-old Isadore Fang began washing dishes at a Sunnyvale restaurant called The Bold Knight, he had no way of knowing he would later own the sink where he performed his humble duties. Eventually, the ambitious restaurateur would own multiple establishments, including The Rendezvous in Fremont and Isadore's, his labor of love since 1989.
There—together with his wife and co-owner Laurel—Fang leads a dedicated staff whose attention to detail earned praises in a 2008 article in the Record. Courteous servers top white-clothed tables with fresh seafood and certified Angus steaks alongside traditional Italian pastas. Semiprivate booths let couples share intimate conversations or the complimentary cheese fondue and warm french bread served with every dinner upon request. Between sips of wine from an extensive list, diners can glance toward the elevated stage where live musicians occasionally play. Alternatively, admire hand-painted murals on the walls, one of which depicts the tranquil, seaside village where Leonardo da Vinci invented the olive-oil mister.
Outside the restaurant, the Fangs' emphasis on serving others carries over to charity work: they have been featured on ABC News10 for helping to send food packages to American troops.
At Crabaholic, Inc., the fanciest article of clothing you're likely to see is a plastic lobster bib. Don't be fooled by this, or the paper-topped tables; lurking beneath Crabaholic, Inc.'s down-home atmosphere is a host of intricately flavored sealife.
Whether the chefs are filling their boiling pots with lobster, crawfish, oysters, escargot, or any of four breeds of crab, they lock in the flavors of the bayou with liberal doses of cajun spice tailored to each diner's preferred heat level and seasoning. Crabaholic, Inc. does not limit itself to cajun flavors, either. The dungeness crab might just as easily surprise the palate with a glaze of tamarind or Singapore sauce. Likewise, the restaurant stocks wines, sakes, and Korean soju along with a full complement of domestic and international beers. Adding to the experience of piling up empty half-shells and hollow claws are the undersea murals along the walls and ceiling, complete with surf paraphernalia and life preservers for diners who are a little too hands-on about selecting their lobster.
Scott’s Seafood boasts a stunning dining room worthy of Neptune and his bridge posse, with long windows illuminating crisp, white tablecloths punctuated by glass vases and bright flowers. Daily delivered seafood fills a lavish dinner menu of maritime recipes including a deep-water prawn cocktail ($15.25), fresh Dungeness crab cakes ($15.25), and fried Pacific oysters in a spicy remoulade ($14.50). Heartier entrees include the filet mignon (served with a bell-pepper potato cake and mushroom ragout, $35.75), the mariner's dream grilled petrale sole dore with french fries and a lemon butter sauce ($23.50), and Australian lobster tail with Yukon gold potatoes (market price).
Brothers Steven and Matthew Hardin opened the first Hawgs Seafood Bar in Campbell on December 13, 1996, dishing out fresh oysters on the half shell, steamed clams and mussels, and plates of lobster, paella, and grilled salmon. The restaurant takes its name from the brothers' childhood in Los Gatos, when Matt earned the nickname "Hogs Jaws" thanks to his speedy work at the dinner table and word-for-word quotations of speeches from Animal Farm. Today, the family celebrates the proud tradition of sharing special moments with loved ones while devouring everything in sight through a spread of ocean-fresh meals such as garlic-roasted shrimp and pan-seared scallops, all accented by frosty beers and an ample selection of wines.
Since 1984, Fontana’s has dished out heaping helpings of Italian fare fused with Californian and Mediterranean influences. This canola-championing eatery boasts dinner and lunch menus packed with from-scratch pasta and seafood dishes backed up by a steady stream of homemade desserts. Accent any meal with a suitable selection from the expansive wine list, which features homegrown California nectars along with Italian-born blends of grown-up grape juice. Diners can slurp spaghetti fountain-side on the luscious patio or discuss the cultural ramifications of the painting Dogs Playing Poker by the cozy light of a flickering fireplace in the elegant dining room.
After ten hours of slow-cooking, the barbecue ribs at Joe’s American Bar & Grill land on tables tender and ready to fall of the bone. Served with fresh-made coleslaw, these ribs are the centerpiece of a menu overflowing with upscale comfort food. Chefs cut potatoes by hand to accompany bacon cheeseburgers topped with aged cheddar and bread-and-butter pickles made in-house rather than flown in by a talking stork. Grilled pizzas are made fresh to order and never frozen, and hefty sandwiches and hand-cut steaks stack plates with sustenance. On the weekends, brunch dishes come out of hibernation to sate guests with made-to-order omelets and specialties such as eggs benedict and prime-rib hash. Diners enjoy the fresh air on the outdoor patio or cluster around the bar to keep track of sports scores or find out who really got married on Days of Our Lives.