Better than Batali: Serious Italian Food at Donato’s Enoteca

Remember back in June when I convinced Kim to play hooky with me and we splurged on lunch at Mario Batali’s restaurant, Del Posto? I was impressed but not totally convinced that the food was worth the extravagant price. I’m even more convinced now that I’ve been to Donato Enoteca in California.

It hit me by surprise. The thing about a lot of these press trips is they stuff you silly. Every meal is terrific, and by the time we got to Donato’s it was the third day of our tour and I was nearly full up on rich fancy food. I resolved to have a light lunch, but this completely fell apart as soon as we sat down and our waiter told us he was actually from Piemonte.

Donato Scotti, the owner and head chef, is himself from Bergamo. He grew up on fresh local food, which he now provides in true Italian style here in Redwood City, California. The restaurant is a cross between modern and rustic, with a concentration on authentic Italian flavors using local California ingredients. Also, unlike Mario Batali, Donato will actually come out and talk to you while you eat.

But on to the food:

(BTW I went into some sort of food trance and forgot to photograph about half the meal, so some of these photos are from the great Erica Kuschel).

Mozzarella potato croquettes

“Bigoli” pasta w/ nebbiolo braised oxtail & asparagus
The most delicious thing that has ever happened to me. Crispy pork belly, sage and pasta
Tender steak, fagioli and roast veggies (Photo by Erica Kuschel)
Assorted Gelato (By Erica Kuschel)

Not only was Donato’s incredible, it was also a heck of a lot cheaper than Del Posto, without many of the silly frills that made me so uncomfortable there. No pretentious waiters, live piano music or weird surcharges, just lots of good food. Which is really what the focus should be on right?

photo by Erica Kuschel

I visited Donato Enoteca as a guest of the San Mateo County and Silicon Valley tourism board. All pictures and opinions are my own.

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5 thoughts on “Better than Batali: Serious Italian Food at Donato’s Enoteca”

  1. Haha! Wow, I was so drawn to the photos (seriously i was drooling) that I didn’t even read the text until my second look at the post. I live in Menlo Park and
    actually used to work with Donato at a different restaurant in Palo Alto! So glad to see Donato getting some well deserved exposure! Last time I was home I had a delicious lunch there with my dad. Incredible food with reasonable prices. Over the summer they had an incredible pumpkin ravioli. Great post, amazing photos. Thanks for sharing!

  2. The oxtail and pork belly dishes look sublime! And these are some fantastic shots. Italian food is best when it’s unpretentious: just simple, high-quality ingredients and great preparation. And usually a generous amount of delicious cheese. Mario Batali’s father runs a place here in Seattle, Salumi, that is just a little hole in the wall (literally, they have a cramped counter and maybe 4 tables). It’s simple, the cured meats and sandwiches are famous, and every day there’s a line around the block. And that’s how Ia lot of the best Italian food is (or should be): no fuss, just goodness. And cheese. Lots of cheese.

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