Husband-and-wife, Mike and Denise Thornberry, might seem like an unlikely duo to open a wine bar-restaurant.
He is a senior director at Apple. She was executive vice president of global sales for Beats by Dr. Dre.
Neither has ever owned a restaurant before or even worked in one.
But they must know have a natural knack for it because their Tasting House in Los Gatos, which only opened in January, is already a hit. It garnered “Best Restaurant,” “Best Atmosphere,” and “Best Wine List” in the 2022 Best of Los Gatos list, and scored a “Best of Award of Excellence” this year from Wine Spectator. And when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant last week, the place was packed, even at all the tables on the patio where I dined on a toasty summer night.
Located in what was formerly Cin-Cin Wine Bar & Restaurant, Tasting House sports both a restaurant and an attached gourmet provisions shop.
First, founder Lisa Rhorer, a former marketing professional-turned-sommelier, sold the restaurant that she opened in 2008 to husband-and-wife Pasquale and Andrea Romano. With Pasquale already a co-founder of her second Los Gatos restaurant, Centenove, it was a fitting choice.
On his “free time,” Velasquez also teams with Chef John Shelsta (who’s especially famed for his kouign-amann and other buttery pastry delights) on pop-up Sunday brunches at Zola in Palo Alto, where Shelsta is manning the kitchen.
Head Chef Chris Velasquez.
Velasquez invited me in as a guest of the restaurant recently to see what he’s been up to. He revamped the menu, which used to be primarily centered around small plates. Now, he’s added more entrees and larger portions all around.