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Ristorante Italiano – Vittoria Ristorante Italiano

June 4, 2008

Driving down any major road in Silicon Valley, you can find a wide range of food options, from Mexican to Iranian, Indian to Italian, Cajun to French, Thai to Pho. Because we live in a vast melting pot of cultures and cuisines, you would think it shouldn’t be too difficult to be transported to the country of your choice for your evening meal. However, it’s not easy to find a really good Italian restaurant, unless, of course, you’re actually in Italy, but how often do any of us get across the Atlantic for a good meal? I realize I have unusually discriminating taste when it comes to Italian cuisine, which is probably why the majority of my friends suggest anything but Italian when we go out for dinner. In my defense, I am quite happy to laud any restaurant that can pull off an authentic, or at least decent, Italian meal.

My aunt recently raved about the gnocchi (pronounced nyo-kee) served at Vittoria Ristorante Italiano, located in charming downtown Los Gatos. Despite the fact that my aunt, who grew up on some of the best Italian food outside of Italy, has very good taste, I was doubtful. Do you know how hard it is to get good gnocchi? It’s challenging enough making them perfectly light at home, let alone finding them edible out. And it really shouldn’t be so difficult—it’s essentially just potato and flour. Most of my limited gnocchi-served-at-restaurants experience goes something like this: when you take a bite, instead of the pasta melting in your mouth, it’s too chewy or worse, too tough! Later, as you leave the restaurant, you can still feel the gnocchi, as they sit in your stomach like little rocks, and you vow to never eat gnocchi anywhere but home again!

Although this had been my typical encounter with gnocchi, when I found myself at Vittoria for an aunt-niece catch-up dinner, I couldn’t resist ordering the little potato dumplings. Rather than arriving on an over-sized plate with two more servings than I could ever fathom putting away on my own, the gnocchi came in a delicious little bowl—the size that I’ve been known to put a “serving” of ice cream in after a long day. My fork gingerly picked up a little pasta, as I braced myself for tough or mushy…Oh, was I pleasantly surprised! The gnocchi melted in my mouth—actually melted! It was light, but still ever so slightly al dente. The traditional ragu sauce tasted a lot like my Nonna’s pasta sauce. So much so, that for a brief moment, I thought someone must have stolen her recipe, or maybe she was secretly selling them the jars of sauce we thought she made for us. But then I tasted the sauce’s little extra kick and realized that my Nonna is not, in fact, Vittoria’s sauce supplier. With little thought to anything other than my happy taste buds, I devoured the remaining contents of the bowl.

Not a fan of gnocchi? Here are some other dishes on their menu that are just as delightful:

Insalata Autunnale- A fresh salad with arugula, spelt (which is a natural grain with a slight nutty flavor), poached pears and Asiago cheese. It’s not your average restaurant salad, but it’s very fresh with an edgy taste.

Margherita Pizza– Who doesn’t love thin-crust pizza with fresh mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes?

Piadina Romagnola– A classic twist on the panini, this flat bread holds prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and arugula. Yum!

A few other tidbits:
The restaurant front is completely unassuming, and it would be easy to pass by its door on more than one occasion without even realizing it’s there.
The actual space in Vittoria is long and narrow, and it can get kind of noisy, since the space is small and the ceiling high.
Most of the servers have thick Italian accents and are extremely courteous and attentive (I personally like knowing that when my water glass nears empty, it will be refilled before I suddenly find myself desiring a drink with nothing but ice cubes to quench me).
If you go on a Friday or Saturday night, you’re going to want to make reservations.
This is a good date-night restaurant. You can’t beat the location (walk through downtown after dessert) or the food (seriously, one of the best Italian restaurants I’ve been to in the area).

Vittoria Ristorante Italiano

27 N. Santa Cruz Ave.

Los Gatos, CA


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