Its name in Italian means “pause,” which I’m sure is the button we all wish we could hit for a respite from the previous year. But San Mateo’s Pausa does the next best thing — serving up to-go Italian specialties that are so delicious we can forget the challenging times we’re still in right now, at least for a moment.
Veneto, Italy-born chef Andrea Giuliani and co-owner Steven Ugur imbue the food with true Italian soulfulness. Just consider the pizzas, with crusts made from a special blend of flours imported from Italy, that bake up over almond wood with blistered edges. Even at the restaurant (when dine-in is allowed), the pizzas arrive uncut. Same with takeout. At the restaurant, you get a pair of scissors to portion it out, yourself. At home, just use kitchen shears to do the work.
Like all the pizzas, the sausage one ($22) sports a crisp crust that’s chewy-tender, bready in some parts with a nice little hint of salt. It has the long-developed flavor of an artisan boule. The crumbled, house-made sausage and house-made mozzarella are the perfect complements to the sweet-fruity tomato sauce.
For something unique, try the pizza zucca & lardo ($22) that tastes of autumn with its sweet butternut squash puree, caramelized onions and cabbage, slices of tender delicata squash, fresh rosemary, and of course, long, paper-thin shavings of cured pork fat that fairly melt in your mouth.
Founder Becky Sunseri has been obsessed with ice cream since she was a kid, when she’d even hunker down with a bowl of it in winter while sitting atop the heater in her family’s home in Illinois. At 15, she playfully wrote her first ice cream menu, too.
A former pastry cook at Facebook, Sunseri makes a point to use the best local ingredients in her ice creams and sorbets in creative yet highly accessible flavors.
Walk up to the window to order a cone or cup or pint to take home. Or order online ahead of time, then go to the “pick-up” window for speedier service.
Handmade pastas you can’t wait to twirl a fork into. Pizzas that make you lunge for a slice. An impressive Italian wine list. And creative cocktails that always put you in a peppy mood.
Vina Enoteca has long been one of my favorite Italian restaurants because it offers all of that with aplomb.
Ordering online is a breeze, as is parking when you pick up your order. These days, there’s plenty of open parking slots in the adjacent lot behind the Stanford Shopping Center. Walk up to the host stand outside to pick it all up.
My husband can never resist a pizza topped with prosciutto. The Pizza Emiliana ($22) is like the super-model version of that.
Pizza Antica, Santana Row San Jose, Lafayette, Mill Valley
The original Pizza Antica at San Jose’s Santana Row has been a huge draw since it opened its doors in 2003. Even in the midst of a pandemic, with only takeout and outdoor dining on the Row available, it remains ever popular.
When I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant last week, I found the takeout system easy as can be. There’s plenty of parking at Santana Row these days, so once you find a spot, just walk to the restaurant’s front doors to pick up your to-go food that you can order ahead of time online.
You can never go wrong with pizza here. The thin yet pliable crusts sport those lovely charred leopard spots from the oven. The Margherita ($17) is a solid, classic rendition with sweet tomato sauce, creamy mozzarella and fresh basil leaves on a crust with a noticeable yeasty, developed flavor.
This is the ultimate tome with everything you need to know about making thick-crust-style pizza, with detailed directions and photos about making, folding, dimpling, and baking the dough. Reinhart also provides a variety of dough recipes so you can choose according to your preference: “White Flour Dough,” “Whole Grain Country-Style Dough,” and “Naturally Leavened Dough.”
He breaks down the differences between Roman, Sicilian, Detroit, Grandma-style and focaccia-style pan pizzas, and provides recipes for all those styles with inventive toppings, including “Beef Brisket with Burnt Ends,” “Banh Mi,” and “Avocado Scampi.”
The “Lemon, Broccoli, and Garlic” caught my attention because I figured when consuming that many carbs, I ought to at least try to squeeze some veggies in at the same time.