Category Archives: Restaurants

San Mateo’s Viognier Undergoing Changes

Scallops with bacon vinaigrette at Viognier.

Scallops with bacon vinaigrette at Viognier.

 

San Mateo’s Viognier restaurant sometimes gets forgotten about.

It’s only when someone brings up the name that you think, “Oh, yeahhhhh, I remember that place…”

After all, when it debuting in 1997, it was a big deal. It made a statement by opening on the second floor of a grocery store, of all things, albeit the uber gourmet Draeger’s. And it made an impression when it lured the illustrious Gary Danko from the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco to open the restaurant.

After Danko left to open his eponymous Michelin one-starred San Francisco establishment, Viognier went through a succession of chefs.

Executive Chef R.J. Subaba in the kitchen.

Executive Chef R.J. Subaba in the kitchen.

The latest one comes with impressive credentials, too. Executive Chef R.J. Subaba has cooked at the Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, Murray Circle at Cavallo Point in Sausalito, Madera at the Rose Wood Sand Hill in Menlo Park, and the Village Pub in Woodside. He’s joined in the kitchen by Executive Pastry Chef Katelyn McCulloch, formerly of the Plumed Horse in Saratoga.

When I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant in December, the restaurant offered only tasting menus. But Subaba says a la carte options will debut soon. A new wood-fired grill also was recently installed.

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A Delectable Time At Donato & Co.

Chef Donato Scotti at his newest restaurant, Donato & Co.

Chef Donato Scotti at his newest restaurant, Donato & Co.

 

Chefs Donato Scotti and Gianluca Guglielmi have been fast friends for 18 years.

So much so that when the Vicenza, Italy-born Guglielmi, the former executive chef and vice president at A.G. Ferarri Foods, returned to Italy to open his own restaurant in 2010, Scotti persuaded him into returning to the Bay Area recently.

The lure?

Scotti’s new Berkeley restaurant, Donato & Co., which opened in October that Guglielmi now oversees. It is expected to be the first of several Bay Area concepts to come helmed by the duo.

If Donato & Co. is any indication of what’s to come, the future should be bright for Guglielmi and Scotti, who grew up in a small town near Bergamo, Italy, and now also owns Donato Enoteca in Redwood City and Cru wine bar in Redwood City.

What's an Italian restaurant without a Vespa, right?

What’s an Italian restaurant without a Vespa, right?

The 20-foot-long bar.

The 20-foot-long bar.

A few weeks ago, I was invited in as a guest of the spacious restaurant, with soaring ceilings, exposed brick columns, a 20-foot-long bar, and a vintage Vespa on display. It has the feel of a beloved neighborhood joint, one you feel right at home in from the get-go.

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What To Do With Leftover Holiday Buttermilk?

The method to make these biscuits is easy yet provide very distinctive results.

The method to make these biscuits is easy yet provide very distinctive results.

 

Hmm, pancakes? Salad dressing? Mashed potatoes?

How about “Cathead Biscuits”? Ones that are fluffy inside and have distinctive craggly crisp, buttery tops?

Yeah, now we’re talking.

After a run of holiday baking, I found myself with leftover buttermilk. I pulled a couple cookbooks from my shelf until I hit upon “Muffins & Biscuits” (Chronicle Books) by Heidi Gibson, co-owner of San Francisco’s The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen.

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The Captivating August 1 Five

The signature Gol Guppa at August 1 Five.

The signature Gol Guppa at August 1 Five.

 

Ask Hetal Shah, which is harder  — creating advertising technology at Google or running a restaurant — and she doesn’t hesitate to answer:

Operating a restaurant. By far.

Shah, who left her job at Google a year ago, and her husband, who still works in tech, had experience opening restaurants, having established Red Hot Chili Pepper in San Carlos in 2010, the casual take on Indian-inflected Chinese food.

But their next restaurant venture was exceedingly more ambitious, August 1 Five, which opened a little over a year ago in San Francisco’s Civic Center.

The name of the splashy, upscale modern Indian restaurant commemorates the date that India won its independence from British rule.

Conveniently located in Civic Center.

Conveniently located in Civic Center.

The bold interior.

The bold interior.

Although Shah and her husband loved the mom-and-pop Indian restaurants in the United States, they missed the more contemporary fare found at high-end hotels in India. So when she and her husband moved to San Francisco from New York, they decided to do something to fill that void.

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