Love What You've Done With the Place
(Let me digress for just a moment. Although, at the beginning I use the word "excited", what I really meant to say was apprehensive, leary, sad, bummed, or curious. You see the Wine Cottage was a reflection on us, our families. The design by Danny and hospitality by Aimee and I so to think that all that meant so little that as soon as the opportunity came up the new owners would tear it out was a little weird. But since Aimee works there now and she said everything was just awesome we wanted to give it a try.)
The first thing that happened when we walked through the door was we were greeted with a hug and kiss from Jim and Mary Spallino. They were truly excited to see us in their new restaurant. I remember that feeling. You are overjoyed that when making a decision about where to eat "your restaurant" was the choice that won. We told them we really wanted to sit at the Pizza Bar and watch Willie making the pizzas. They showed us to the first big change they made. Out back they took out the disneyland ramp and extended the deck out so that 6 tables could fit there. The pizza oven is open with a black granite bar around it. That's where we sat. We were so proud to see Willie at work making pizza and salad. For a Sunday evening it was really busy too. Once we got settled and ordered a bottle of wine, Alfonso came over and greeted us too. They really made us feel special.
We ordered a caprise salad which was great. I hope to have some of the Bistro tomatoes when they are ripe but the fresh mozzarella was really nice. Then we had the 4 cheese pizza with chicken. Just watching someone prepare your food for you makes it extra special. We topped it off with a cappacino and a chocolate flourless cake which was to die for.
As we were sitting at the Bar Danny reminded me that this was my original idea. (That was the first time tears came to my eyes.) We had sat at the pizza bar in a restaurant in San Francisco a couple of years before the Wine Cottage and loved the idea so much that we wanted to incorporate it in our new venture but because we were new and trying to get county permits they wouldn't allow it. The second guy has more leniency. So now I can come and enjoy it here knowing this was my idea first!
As we left the beautiful building Danny built I turned to reflect on what just happened. We walked into a wonderful restaurant, were greeted with warmth and hospitality and we enjoyed fresh, fabulous food prepared right before our eyes. This was a wonderful evening. Uliveto is my new favorite restaurant.
In conclusion, what I can say is PLEASE, don't blow this one. Give the new restaurant more than one chance like some of you gave to the Wine Cottage Bistro. The small, family run restaurants are a difficult business. They need all the support you can give. Just say NO to the chain restaurants. The most romantic restaurant is not the Olive Garden. The best restaurant doesn't have to be the same one year after year just because you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Change is healthy, change is good. You can get a great dinner under $30 even though the experience rates up there with places you would pay 4 times that. Don't let your expectations count you out of enjoying great food in a fabulous atmosphere. And when you come and you have to wait, don't leave and complain under your breath. All great restaurants require a wait.