Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Donato Enoteca: First Look

My first dinner tonight at Donato Enoteca was a success in every way. To be fair the restaurant is just on its third day of opening, plus I invited some prima donna friends to come with me. Chef/proprietor Donato Scotti did not fail us with his pristine food, while the staff followed through with friendly, competent service.

The wine service, in particular, was overachieving. Seven of us brought half a dozen bottles, and, of course we wanted everything chilled, decanted, and served in individual Riedel glasses, pronto. No sweat. Wine director, Eric Lecours, was unperturbed, proceeding methodically and precisely with the corkscrew and glassware. Shinya Tasaki would be impressed.

The 1982 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs was magnificent with our antipasti. Steely, rich, nutty, with long, elegant flavors.

Calamari and white bean salad with baby spinach. The squid was tender, but the beans were still a bit firm; nevertheless, this was simple, light, and pure.

Prosciutto-wrapped pillow of puffed pastry. I've never had this combo before. Interesting, but the puffed pastry did little for me, it was the rich quality of the prosciutto that was mouthwatering.

Donato's signature Bruschetta di Cinghiale or braised wild boar, onion and Chianti vinegar spread on grilled bread. The Italian take on deconstructed pulled-pork sandwich. Tender shreds of tasty pork with a delicious, slightly tangy seasoning. This was devoured quickly. We should have ordered more.

My rustic plate of veal chop. Crusty, juicy, perfectly cooked.

1959 Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac. Like what you'd expect from a '59, really beautiful. Fresh currants and dark berries with cedary notes and lovely tannins. Muscular sweetness. Drinking perfectly now.

1981 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia, Bolgheri. Earthy currant nose. Bright, earthy blackberries. Cool and fresh in the mouth. Precise, elegant, and high-toned. A focused wine that demands the right food, like a rare steak.

1996 Gaja Darmagi Langhe. A great wine with enormous potential. The fruit is dense, sweet, earthy, and mineral with layers of currants, figs, and spices. Velvety tannins. Powerful and persistent. This will evolve for decades! Amazing what Cabernet Sauvignon can do in Barbaresco.

1993 Ornellaia, Bolgheri. Superb. Drinking perfectly. I don't know much about the history of Ornellaia. I thought this was Merlot-based but I was wrong. This vintage is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with some percentage of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. No wonder it was fragrant with cedary currants and mulberry. Creamy, lush, earthy cassis and cherry fruit. Elegant and perfectly balanced.

Donato fired up his gelato machine and made us an assortment of refreshing gelati. A great way to finish the meal. Luxurious dense, creamy texture, with just enough air to float in the mouth and savor the intense, pure fruit taste. Most enjoyable gelati I've ever had!

Freshly-made gelato of wild berry and limoncello.

Freshly-made gelato of pistacchio, vanilla, and chocolate.

I shall be returning many times to Donato's Enoteca. Already the prospects for getting a great meal look very bright. Bravo!

Donato Enoteca
1041 Middlefield Road
Redwood City, CA 94063
Open everyday for lunch and dinner


  1. Wow. The entire meal looks like a slice of heaven. If I ever make it down there, I'll make this restaurant my first stop! Glad Eric (my cousin) is looking happy and and has accomplished so much in the wine industry. Very proud.

    grand emploi!


  2. Donato's cooking is such a great combination of wine-friendly comfort with iron chef flavor! The wine director Eric makes the wine experience (whether it's the wine you brought or the wine from the restourant's list) a classy affair every time! Impressive bunch of wines to go with the above dinner! After an amazing grand opening, I so look forward to having many lunches and dinners there!


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