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The 8 Best Italian Restaurants in Silicon Valley

Sam MacKinnon, Carolyn Jung and Anh-Minh Le | February 19, 2021 | Food & Drink

With COVID-19 restrictions beginning to lift across the state, these eight Silicon Valley Italian restaurants are essential for your Bay Area dining experience.

When you're done perusing this list, check out the best Italian restaurants in our other markets: Aspen, Boston, Hamptons, Hawaii, Miami, NYC, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Scottsdale and Washington D.C.

1. Pausa Bar & Cookery

Housemade is the operative phrase at this stylish trattoria—from the salumi and mozzarella to the pastas, gelatos and pizzas crafted from four Italian flours mixed with a special enzyme, a unique imported blend used by no one else in the United States. The care and precision is on display in the open kitchen and glassed-in dough room. Open for outdoor dining and takeout, start with a spritz, a classic Italian wine-based aperitif, before diving into Italian-born chef-owner Andrea Giuliani’s beef tongue carpaccio, and squid ink shell pasta tossed with spicy lamb sugo. 223 E. Fourth Ave., San Mateo

2. Vina Enoteca

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In late 2016, Shannon and Rocco Scordella—the proprietors of Tootsie’s—unveiled their Italian restaurant in the Stanford Barn space that previously housed California Café. Open for takeout only, the tantalizing pastas, breads and pizza dough are all made in-house. Vina Enoteca became the first place in Silicon Valley to offer the Impossible Burger, the plant-based meat alternative developed by Redwood City’s Impossible Foods. A pair of sliders—composed of poppy-seed buns, sun-dried tomatoes and cavolo nero, served with marbled potatoes—is available only during lunch. 700 Welch Road, Palo Alto

3. Il Fornaio

The 30-year-old chain’s newest restaurant is the first to open with a female head chef, Leslie Pineda. It also boasts state-of-the-art equipment, including a vertically rotating rotisserie for juicy Pollo Toscano and an Italian pizza oven with rotating floor to turn out Neapolitan-style pies like the Cristina, draped with prosciutto, mozzarella, mushrooms, arugula and a touch of white truffle oil. Roomy booths, weighty wood columns and soaring walls of wine bottles create a California-meets-Tuscany wine-country feel. Il Fornaio is currently open for outdoor dining and takeout. 2752 Augustine Drive, 408.217.8844

4. Vivace Ristorante

Living up to its name — which is Italian for “lively” — Vivace offers dishes from Northern Italy, along with a great wine selection, in a warm and refined environment. From wood-fired pizzas to pastas to hearty entrees like stuffed chicken and veal scaloppini, there are plenty of winners on the menu. It’s no wonder Vivace has been going strong for 20-plus years. They are currently open for takeout only. 1910 Ralston Ave., 650.637.0611

5. Stella Alpina Osteria

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Just a few steps below street level, Matteo Ferrari’s rustic Italian restaurant, appropriately enough, tucked away like the culinary gem that it is. Standouts include his gnocchi, bathed in one of three sauces; fall-off-the-bone osso bucco; and rigatoni al ragu di maiale, which features a smoky pork and sweet bell pepper sauce. Like the cuisine, the service here is on point, and they are currently open for takeout. 401 Primrose Road, 650.347.5733

6. iTalico

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This restaurant/wine bar was opened by the same owners of Terun, located just down the street (and also serving up delicious Italian fare). Small plates, salads and housemade pastas comprise the bulk of the menu. The interior and service exude warmth (and in the former’s case, a touch of the industrial). Try out this gem for takeout and delivery only. 341 S. California Ave., 650.473.9616

7. Donato Enoteca

At this earnest, outsize restaurant, chef Donato Scott’s sprawling menu is strongest at its simplest, as with wild-boar bruschetta and uncomplicated pizzas like a blistered margherita. The housemade pastas include agnolotti filled with sausage, veal and a tomato-and-onion sauce as well as potato-and-branzi cheese ravioli served with a walnut-and-milk pesto. Desserts include Italian classics like panna cotta, tiramisu and gelato. Open now for outdoor dining and takeout. 1041 Middlefield Road, 650.701.1000

8. Vesta

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This downtown spot has repeatedly made Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list, honoring the best moderately priced restaurants around. The salads and small plates, including a tasty mushroom toast, start the meal on a great note. Next up: the pizzas. Vesta’s wood-fired oven turns out superb thin-crust pies with toppings ranging from tomato and mozzarella to sausage and honey. Reserve some slices for leftovers, and treat yourself to scoops of Lush gelato and the housemade biscotti for dessert. Vesta is currently open for takeout and delivery. 2022 Broadway, 650.362.5052



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