Chianti Cucina sees its creators pooling their varied talents together for an elegant dining experience. One of those talents just happens to be interior design, courtesy of owner Bonnie Robertson. The dining room exudes warmth, thanks to her vision of a floor-to-ceiling wine rack, community-table seating, and large mirrors framed with wood rescued from a Montana barn. Her husband, Mark, owned a restaurant in his native South Africa, making him the perfect complement to the eatery's other half. The couple have established Chianti Cucina as a place to explore innovative Italian fare and housemade recipes every day of the week.
Translated from Italian, tavola means table, a place for friends and family to congregate around wine and simple, handcrafted food. Such is the inspiration behind Tavola Italian Kitchen, where chefs employ techniques steeped in Italian tradition to prepare dishes comprised of locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. Along with the food, the restaurateurs behind Tavola rely on their network of purveyors to gather flowers, ceramics, and decor rather than bartering with their secret recipes for stuff at garage sales.
Novato Café’s chef Marx Passos mans steaming pots and pans to forge a dinner menu of time-tested plates crowned with colorful sprays of fresh veggies. At the sound of the dinner bell, creamy avocado-and-bacon-cloaked cheeseburgers ($12) drive up napkin demand, and the Boston clam chowder ($6; available Fridays and Saturdays) fits swimmingly alongside a baby spinach salad, decorated with tomatoes, red onions, black olives, and cucumbers and blanketed in choice of dressing ($6 for small; $9 for large). Plates piled high with thin cuts of tenderized pan-fried steak ($9) and fillets of sautéed salmon ($12) swirl through the air from the kitchen to the table, providing the perfect opportunity to chow down and film a UFO hoax in the same night.
When you accidentally plant tomato seeds instead of building a treehouse for your children, you'll have to learn how to put a tomato to good use. Today's Groupon gives you a tasty education in the red fruitgetable with $20 worth of Italian cuisine at Tomatina for $10. Bring a flavorful tutorial to your palate with professorial pizzas and pastas straight from the tomato academy.
The San Francisco Chronicle highlighted Gaspare's Pizzeria Ristorante Bar in its "Pizza of the Week" feature in 2008, in part due to the cooks who "work the dough like artists" to create the 27 different pies. Owned and operated by Gaspare, Daniel, and Robin Indelicato since 1985, the flagship San Francisco location showcases a vintage flair. The dining room sports murals of Bay Area scenes and jukeboxes blasting Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin tunes. There’s even a ceiling draped with grapevines and bottles of chianti, which the servers trained to think they are bats. A second location opened in San Rafael in 2007. For his menu of Italian cuisine, Gaspare draws on his upbringing in Siculiana, Sicily, baking pans of bubbling lasagna alongside pizzas such as the feta-flecked mediterranean special. To round out meals, Robin Indelicato bakes her signature New York–style cheesecake and Italian-style tiramisu, which patrons may pair with espresso or a glass of imported Italian wine.