Betting on Barolo

dining baroloaRistorante Barolo benefits from its ‘Restaurant Impossible’ boost  

Ever since Robert Irvine from the TV show Restaurant Impossible gave Ristorante Barolo a whole new look and complete makeover, things have improved for restaurant owners Cristina Locke and Giovanni Guerisoli.

Irvine arrived at the beginning of February with his team of 35, including interior designers and construction workers. With a budget of $10,000 and a timeline to get everything done in 48 hours, the team worked around the clock to paint, decorate, reupholster chairs, and add much-needed pizzazz to the restaurant’s interior. Old worn carpet was ripped up and dark wood flooring appeared in its place. Drab walls were given fresh coats of paint —white to highlight the historic dining room’s friezes, and charcoal gray for a dramatic, elegant touch. Beautiful chandeliers dating back years were cleaned and kept intact, and tables were topped with glass over white tablecloths, helping to cut down on laundry bills.

Ristorante Barolo is in the Bayview Hotel, which dates back to 1871. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, so Irvine was not allowed to change anything from that period such as lighting and ornate woodwork, but upgrades made, both to the restaurant and the menu, added needed flair.

Dining there recently with my friend Judy was a lovely experience. Greeted by a smiling server, we found a table in one of the restaurant’s three dining sections – and started by ordering Husch Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc ($9.50 a glass) that is bright and refreshing and a good pairing with the restaurant’s hearty Italian food.

Our shared starter of Insalate Mista ($10.50) was a fresh crisp salad of mixed greens, tomato, carrots, pine nuts and Gorgonzola dressing, which we both enjoyed.

My order of Melanzane Parmegiana ($20.95) transported me back to Italy and the fine food I experienced there on many trips. The eggplant dish was well prepared and truly delicious. Judy chose one of the homemade specials of Rollini pasta ($21.95) stuffed with prosciutto, spinach and cheese served with aurora sauce— a tasty creamy tomato concoction ($21.50) that enhanced the flavorful pasta. We finished up by sharing a nicely prepared Crème Brulee— very light and delicately flavored— topped with a lovely caramelized crust. I also enjoyed an excellent cappuccino, served piping hot. dining barolo

According to Locke, Guerisoli is a traditionalist and makes almost everything from scratch, including sausage, gnocchi, bread, sauces, soups and most of the pasta. Tomato sauce is made from fresh tomatoes, herbs come from their garden, and organic produce is used whenever possible. A good percentage of their food is from Italy— oils, dry pastas, cheese, – and meat is from an organic farm in Montana.

The Bayview Hotel has a beautiful garden – complete with an abundance of plants and stunning bronze statues. Weddings and corporate events can be held in the garden, and it’s also home to a wood-fired pizza oven. The restaurant has about about a dozen different pizzas on its menu – complete with a choice of toppings. Pizza I have eaten there in the past has always been excellent and with a nice thin crust. And a light lunch I had recently of salmon cakes with lemon aioli on a bed of greens ($13.50) was well prepared with a crunchy outer crust. The lunch menu has a good selection of Panini Italiano, including vegetarian, and pastas include Gnochi di Patate – homemade potato dumplings served with Gorgonzola or meat sauce, and Ravioli stuffed with spinach, ricotta and pesto sauce.

Ristorante Barolo has a fairly good selection of wines – including Italian and local, and a full bar. Breakfast is served daily, as well as lunch and dinner, with menu items such as steak and eggs, crab Benedict and veggie Benedict as well as omelets, frittata and scrambles served with homemade Italian toast and country potatoes. 

Ristorante Barolo, 8041 Soquel Ave., Aptos, 688-8654. Bayviewhotel.com. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.

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