Inspired by the "North of Little Italy" neighborhood of Manhattan?which is lined with quaint and authentic family-owned restaurants?Nolita Ristorante serves up classic Italian cuisine alongside an extensive craft beer selection at a contemporary bar, featuring 24 taps and a myriad of specialty cocktails. The impressive menu lists off a plethora of dishes, each composed with a nod toward sustainability, such as fresh produce and meats that are locally sourced whenever possible. Tender shrimp ravioli are tossed in a saffron cream sauce, while a bone-in pork chop is plated alongside a crispy polenta cake and sweet grilled peaches.
When creating a pie, cooks at Paesano's Pizzeria adhere to the tradition of NYC's pizza chefs from start to finish. They begin with fresh ingredients, kneading pizza dough from scratch. Next, they hand-toss the pies into circles ready for toppings. After slathering on freshly made sauce and toppings such as italian sausage or fresh mushrooms, they stone-bake the pizzas. You can buy it by the slice or by the pie, or opt for another Italian staple such as a hot sub or lasagna.
The cozy, Old-World spirit of an Italian trattoria has endured at Chase Bar & Grill since 1979. Familiar Italian dishes appear throughout the menu, including creamy, ricotta-stuffed eggplant rolletini and veal piccata sauteed in a tangy combination of lemon, white wine, and caper sauce. Homemade ravioli and fresh mozzarella di bufala further reinforce the restaurant's commitment to its Mediterranean roots. At the same time, the chefs also indulge diners with classic surf-and-turf items, such as grilled Pacific Northwest salmon and cuts of locally sourced filet mignon, ribeye, and new york strip steak that have dry-aged for 21 days. The wine list also takes a mildly international approach, highlighting both Californian and Italian producers.
The decor in Chase Bar & Grill's dining room fosters a casual spirit that complements the eatery's inviting ambiance. Vines intertwined with strands of lights run along the walls and the ceiling, creating a lush yet somewhat intimate setting. Additionally, the space features a handful of Old World-inspired accent pieces, including vintage photographs and ornately framed mirrors hanging from the Tuscan yellow walls and a stout wooden barrel filled with magma from Mount Vesuvius.
A link to Santa Barbara's past, Aldo's Italian Ristorante resides on the grounds of the Janssens-Orella adobe house, which was built in 1857 and holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Since 1986, Aldo's has done its part to write its own chapter into the historic site's story, serving homemade Italian specialties for lunch and dinner every day of the week. During visits, diners may enjoy freshly prepared dishes inside amid ornate pillars and elegant artwork, or outside in the heated courtyard.
The chefs at Gino’s Sicilian Express pile house-made crusts with fresh tomato sauce and all-natural mozzarella cheese to animate a menu of more than 20 New York–style pizzas, as well as calzones and a selection of beer and wine. Pies range from classics, such as the margarita ($12–$16) and pepperoni ($13–$17), to specialty creations ($16–$20) such as the Polpette, festooned with basil, garlic, and sicilian meatballs. The Spinaccia pizza, strewn with fresh spinach and feta cheese, is also amenable to the New York fold-and-bite or the Antarctica freeze-and-lick technique. Diners taste test crust-free creations with a handful of hot wings ($4–$7) or sandwiches such as the chicken parmesan ($5). Chefs also present an evolving selection of desserts; ask Gino’s staff about the day’s saccharine selection or their opinions on mixing corduroy and plaid.
Located near Santa Barbara City College, Hot Spots Espresso Company serves as a caffeine-equipped study spot for many a college student. Offering free wifi, the shop makes a variety of coffee and smoothie drinks to order?baristas carefully steam cappuccinos and brew coffee one cup at a time to maximize flavor. On the beach-adjacent patio, palms and blooming bougainvilleas sway in the sea breeze as strings of lights frame columns and archways. Between late April and October, the shop remains open around the clock, acting as a lighthouse for bleary-eyed sailors and a haven for late-night studying.