Donato Enoteca is Delizioso

Grilled branzino served whole or in fillet at Donato Enoteca. Do ask for it whole, though.

I’d already eaten lunch twice on my own dime, when I recently got invited to dine as a guest at Donato Enoteca in Redwood City.

So, you know I already think highly of the food created there by Executive Chef Donato Scotti.

For further proof, just consider that on the evening I was there, a Peninsula chef whom I’ve written about before, dropped by my table to say hello. He’s such a fan of the food there that he’s a regular with his family.

Scotti hails from the small town of Bergamo in Italy, where as a kid, he used to deliver fresh bread by bicycle to his neighbors. He’s worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy, as well as Valentino restaurant in Santa Monica, under the direction of owner Piero Selvaggio. Peninsula folks also may remember Scotti for his charming La Strada restaurant in Palo Alto.

He opened Donato Enoteca two years ago. On a warm summer day, a seat at a table on the front patio is a must. Inside, the lovely restaurant is divided into three rooms: First, a bright, airy dining room; then a room with an expansive length of bar that also accommodates diners; and finally, the rear one lined with wine bottles, dark burgundy drapes and masculine wood walls, where we sat.

ender, paper-thin slices of octopus carpaccio.

We started with octopus carpaccio ($8), which arrived at the table in paper-thin cross-sections looking like some sort of artsy mosaic. It was crowned with peppery watercress dressed with olive oil and bright lemon juice.

Pasta shouldn’t be missed here. My favorite one, which I almost always order, is the one with funghi ($13). A tangle of organic buckwheat pasta is tossed with a mix of wild mushrooms, garlic, parsley and Grana Padano.  It’s a savory blend of earthy, nutty and sharpness that I can never get enough of.

My favorite wild mushroom pasta that I never ever tire of and have already eaten three times.

Lamb ragu with spinach pappardelle.

My husband opted for pappardelle, tinged the slightest green from spinach, and fortified with braised lamb and San Marzano tomatoes for a touch of sweetness ($15). It’s a hearty dish loaded with oh-so-tender wide noodles.

Pork belly pizza ($12)? You bet. And it will surprise. You might picture slabs of pork belly quivering with inches of fat dotted over the top of a crust. But it’s not that at all. Instead, it’s porchetta — meaty, rolled pork belly that’s cut into large, thin slices that cover the entire pizza.

Get a load of this pizza.

The crust is not crisp and thin. It’s more bready, akin to a flatter focaccia flavored with rosemary. It has a nice developed flavor and had the heft to hold up to the weight of all that grand porchetta.

When ordering grilled branzino ($25), you can choose to have it served whole or as a fillet. When I asked our server which the chef prefers, he rightly answered “whole,” because it allows the fish to retain more moisture when cooked. With an extra plate on the side to discard the bones, it’s a breeze to cut through this whole, flaky fish with its great smoky flavor. Garlic thyme sauce comes on the side for you to gussy it up with.

Fred Flintstone-sized, pounded veal chop.

My husband’s breaded veal chop “Milanese” ($26) was humongous. It was pounded till thin like a cutlet but with the bone still attached, rendering more flavor and juiciness.

Tiramisu ($9) provided a thick, creamy, boozy finish.

A splendid tiramisu caps the night.

My ultimate test for whether I like a restaurant is if I would come back on my own tab and if I would recommend it to foodie friends.

With Donato Enoteca, I’ve already done both.

‘Nuff said.

More Places for Great Pasta: Oakland’s Oliveto

And: Poggio in Sausalito

And: Quince in San Francisco

And: SPQR in San Francisco

And: A16 in San Francisco

And: Bottega in Yountville

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  • Every dish in this restaurant looks awesome. I like the look of the pasta with funghi and the pork belly pizza!!

  • This is definitely not a post to read on an empty stomach! Every dish sounds and looks wonderful and I can see why you would would like to return on “your own tab”!
    Planning a trip up north so will add this to my “must visit” restaurants!

  • Thanks Carolyn! We have been looking for another great restaurant in Redwood City close to where my husband works in Menlo Park. The dishes look authentic and amazing. I’ve been seeing a lot of the bone-in veal dishes. Any idea where that trend started?

  • My lord….the pasta images alone made me fall in love. Hangry!

  • OMG Pork Belly Pizza? THIS I have to try! It’s like combining 2 of the most yummy dishes in 1!

  • Wait, did you eat all this in one night? I applaud you and Meat Boy!

  • These photos are making me so hungry! I’ve never tried eating fish cooked whole, but it looks seriously delicious. Plus I can see how it would help retain a lot more moisture. This place looks great!

  • Sounds delicious! I can’t wait to try it!

  • Wow, you guys really dined right! And looks like your meat-lovin’ husband was in his element. What a fantastic place. Wish I could make it to Cali sometime to eat:)

  • When I heard pork belly pizza, I instantly thought crackling pork belly on crackling thin pizza crust.;p

  • I lived in Redwood City for a year after moving back from Europe, I can’t believe I missed this place! Looks fantastic!

  • I’ve learned to compartmentalize need for knowledge vs jonesing for great eats: Donato Enoteca sits just across the street from Redwood City’s main library where I visit almost daily. I look away returning to my car lest Donato’s tempts me and my weight soars!

    Like, Carolyn, Chef Scotti’s foiade di funghi is a personal fave though I’ve yet to have his Mediterranean seabass(Branzino)– when I do–and do I will–it’ll definitely be the whole fish!

  • Another great pasta. Had lunch at Locanda Positano in San Carlos a few days ago. Tried the Handmade scialatielli pasta, fresh clams, prawns, cherry tomatoes. The pasta looked like square-cut spaghetti–with toothsome al dente texture. Highly recommended. Pizzas looked luscious, too.

  • Wow! Now I remember what I miss most about living in Italy! Stunning food and a restaurant I would most definitely eat at and thoroughly enjoy. Everything look fabulous!

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