When topological surveys uncovered a richly flowing chocolate vein under Saratoga, a sure-footed band of chocolatiers set to work building a premium confectionarium on site. Wielding the united powers of local dairy and additive-free ingredients, these visionaries spawned a full line of noteworthy artistic chocolates that will remind your eyes what it's like to have taste buds and your mouth to have eyes. Stroll through an indulgent selection of truffles, bonbons, bars, and more, from sea-salted caramels ($8 for a box of four) to 12-piece assorted gift boxes ($23.50), and a mish-mash of exquisite apricot caramels, mint mojito bites, chili-spiced truffles, pumpkin-pie truffles, and more.
The brainchild of husband-and-wife tandem Mitchell Cutler, a Québécois, and Tracey Tate-Cutler, a fifth-generation Californian who lived in Germany for years, La Fondue pairs the traditions of the European delicacy with the spirit of American cuisine. Cauldrons of cheese comprise the bubbling centerpiece at most tables, into which guests dip victuals such as Kobe flat-iron steak, alligator tail, sea scallops, and tiger blue shrimp. The experience comes with an added twist: servers bring the raw ingredients, but it’s up to the diners to choose from one of six cooking methods to heat their meat or seafood morsels, such as dipping them in a rich tomato-basil bisque or roasting them over a European-style grill from Munich.
On any given night, you might see diners following one of fondue's most popular traditions: if someone drops their cube into the fondue, they must then buy the next round of drinks for the table or accept a kick in the shin from the table companion with the strongest calves. Luckily, La Fondue's drinks include wine from a well-rounded list that earned an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. But if it's Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday—BYOB nights—the table just might enforce the second punishment. Still, with cheese fondue such as pesto cognac and chocolate fondue enhanced with flavors such as mint or Irish cream, most diners do everything in their power to get their cubes into their mouths.
The whole fondue experience unfolds in an eccentric dining space that joins medieval motifs, zebra-print upholstery, and Andy Warhol wall-art in a vibrant, decorative pastiche. The restaurant offers multiple dining rooms, each with its own touches, such as ornate mirrors and leonine busts.
Cuisine Type: Mediterranean/Greek
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 25–50
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Lamb
Alcohol: Beer and wine only
Delivery / Take-out Available: Yes
Outdoor Seating: Yes
Tucked between the Saratoga Mountains to the west and San Jose to the north east, Santorini Wine & Beer Garden exposes diners from the surrounding city to the wines of the vineyards that dot the area's foothills. The wine list highlights the array of microclimates that lend the area's varietals their distinctive flavors along with the families who have tended the wineries for generations. Wine tastings unfold out in the restaurant's impossibly charming wine garden, where a duo of acoustic guitarists, a central fire pit, and booths covered with trellises lend to the quaint and cozy ambiance.
To soak up the libations, the bistro also serves a selection of Greek tapas, including feta marinated in olive oil and grape leaves stuffed with seasoned rice, tomatoes, onions, and red peppers—a gluten-free option. Larger entree helpings take the form of grass-fed lamb shank imported from Santorini and chicken souvlaki.
The chefs at Triple Seven Pizzeria shuffle custom combinations of sun-dried tomatoes, pesto sauce, and mozzarella cheese to spread across sourdough crusts made fresh daily and form their gourmet, casino-themed pies. They stack the Texas Hold'em BBQ Chicken pie with grilled chicken breast, barbecue sauce, and cheddar cheese and crown the Straight Flush with pepperoni, red onions, and italian sausage. Vegetarian pies include the Viva Las Veggies, with black olives, zucchini, and green bell peppers, and the thin-crust Lady Luck, which diners typically blow on before eating, with fresh garlic, basil, and tomatoes. Patrons order from the red-and-black-tiled counter before adjourning to the outdoor dining area or around tables inside that afford views of 42-inch plasma TVs that project football games on Sundays.
After Sandro Costanza left his home in Calabria, Italy, in 1988, he devoted decades to waiting tables and cooking his way through Paris, London, and Rome before finally landing in Saratoga. There, he opened Ristorante Da Mario to re-create the bursting flavors and vibrant colors of the southern Italian dishes he remembered from his childhood. Today his chefs forge these staples by layering lasagna, stuffing ravioli, and fluffing gnocchi in-house, and by using a number of lighter cream sauces instead of exclusively glazing entrees with marinara. Although Sandro's wine list features numerous California varietals, it also includes bottles from major wine-producing regions across Italy to complement the authentic dishes.
Faux tuscan walls mimic the cuisine's rustic, down-home approach, but crisp, white tablecloths and framed artwork also lend their touches of refinement to the dining room. Outside, patio seating pairs rich Italian meals with light gulps of fresh air and lets diners keep eyes out for invading Byzantines.
The chefs at Jake’s specialize in whipping up circular comestibles, dishing out pizzas with more than 20 toppings in addition to scrumptious specialty pies and a sizeable selection of burgers, sandwiches, and wings. Cozy up in a booth with a signature pizza ($15.25 for a small), such as the barbecue chicken, which plunders the garden for ripe pineapple and onion before wedding them to juicy marinated chicken breast on an altar of smoked provolone. The create-your-own-pizza menu rounds up the usual suspects including pepperoni, mushrooms, and anchovies and puts them in a lineup alongside their more exotic counterparts such as louisiana hot sausage, artichoke hearts, and chives ($12.05+ for a small). Burgers ($5.65), quesadillas ($4.50), and a chicken philly with fries ($8) clamor for diners' attention, and a bucket of wings ($12.75) provides a perfect opportunity to prove your kindergarten teacher wrong about your ability to share.