Chef Giancarlo Cucumo grew up amid the "lean cuisine" of Bari, Italy, where he learned to cook fresh seafood, chop veggies, and drizzle olive oil at a young age. When Giancarlo arrived in Morro Bay after a long, globe-trotting culinary career, it was like returning to the climate of his homeland, right down to the ample fishing and fresh produce. It proved the perfect locale for Giancarlo's Ristorante Italiano Mediterraneo.
That Mediterranean background can be tasted throughout Giancarlo's menu: ravioli stuffed with sea bass and smothered in a brandy-tomato cream sauce; racks of lamb encrusted with herb-honey and roasted over an oak-wood fire, pizzas crispy from a stint inside a wood-burning oven. The dessert lineup, meanwhile, is dominated by cheesecakes, pastries, and gelato. The restaurant's open-kitchen layout also adds a touch of culinary theatre to the meal.
At Tenth Street Basque Cafe, diners always receive the full attention of chef Dallas Holt. The Spanish-Basque-style café does not maintain a regular menu and only seats guests at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 6 p.m. on Sundays for a prix fixe dinner prepared by the chef. Chef Dallas typically winds palates up with tapas such as stuffed mushrooms or albacore fish cakes before regaling senses with a main course such as stone-oven-cooked whole salmon or his specialty, the chicken and sausage paella.