Tomato and Mozzarella Caprese Salad, Lobster Ravioli with Prawns in a Champagne Sauce, Jovanna Special: Veal Scaloppine with Porcini Mushrooms, Truffle Paste, and a Touch of Cream
Occupation: A/V Specialist and Vocalist
Location: Los Gatos
Favorite Restaurant: Aldo's Ristorante & Bar
Reviewed Aldo's Ristorante & Bar: Monday June 4, 2007
My wife and I decided to dine at Aldo’s on a Monday, thinking that the restaurant would be somewhat less crowded. Without making reservations, we showed up just after 6pm. We were very surprised to see two large tables set up for a modest banquet and asked the charming Italian hostess if we could be seated away from the banquet tables. She seated us in an area with 9’ ceilings. Most of the restaurant is situated under a very high, vaulted, open beamed ceiling, making the establishment seem very open and spacious. The floors are made up of large, glazed, terracotta tiles, and the modern looking chandeliers add to the overall pleasant earthy atmosphere. I would think that with all the hard surfaces in the restaurant that it would be very noisy when full of diners. Fortunately, the noise level was very modest and did not intrude on our conversation. Shortly after we were seated, we couldn’t help but notice how quickly the restaurant filled up, taking into consideration this was a Monday.
The waiter was prompt and efficient. It didn’t hurt that everyone who works in the restaurant knows me (and they were all kind enough to come over and greet me as a friend). We have been going to Aldo’s for at least 10 years, and he has always been very kind and generous to us. He came over to our table and hugged me and kissed my wife on each cheek…such a sweet and caring guy.
The busboy brought us some fresh baked bread and some roasted garlic in olive oil and fresh basil. The waiter soon reappeared and opened the Pinot Noir I brought and took our order for marinated long stemmed artichokes with fresh greens, chopped tomatoes, and olive oil drizzle. This appetizer was a great alternative to a salad, and arrived at our table very quickly. We loved it. Our waiter took our entrée orders, which included Vitello Ripieno (veal stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella cheese in a Marsala wine sauce with mushrooms) and Jovanna Special (veal scaloppine with porcini mushrooms, truffle paste, and a touch of cream), named after one of Aldo’s daughters. The food arrived very fast, and my wife and I exchanged plates after a few bites to compare meals. I loved my Jovanna Special. The veal was so tender I could cut it with my fork, and the truffle paste added a marvelous but delicate aftertaste. The side dish of green beans, carrots, and potatoes were cooked slightly more than I would have preferred, but I enjoyed them just the same. My wife’s veal was a hearty mixture of mozzarella cheese and prosciutto all rolled together inside the veal with lots of mushrooms in a sweet Marsala wine sauce. Very nice indeed, and the Pinot I brought complimented both dishes wonderfully.
We finished our dinner with a tasty choice of Crêpes Italia that we split (crêpes filled with vanilla ice cream, covered with mandarinetto -- an orange sauce -- and decorated with fresh fruits). Unfortunately, the only fresh fruit was quartered strawberries, which was a small disappointment as this dish usually includes a mix of berries.
When dining at Aldo’s, you must finish the meal with a shot of his homemade Limoncello. It is a most refreshing way to end the meal.
The service was very fast and the food arrived promptly as well. It might be nice to provide different side dishes with different meals. My wife’s veal dinner came with exactly the same vegetables as my entrée. The atmosphere was friendly, the waitstaff very professional, and the food was well worth the price.
The only consistent criticism I have ever given Aldo’s Ristorante is regarding their wine list. I know if he was motivated, or felt like his wine selections were hurting his bottom line, he would show more diversity and choose better wines. At least he has a well-stocked full bar and he only charges a $15 corkage fee.
Aldo is a hands-on very dedicated restaurateur who cares deeply about his patrons and the quality of their dining experience. It is always a pleasure to dine at his establishment.
Occupation: TV Host and Producer
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: La Folie
Reviewed Aldo's Ristorante & Bar: Friday June 8, 2007
My first impressions of a restaurant are collected when I make the call for a reservation. Sadly on this occasion I was disappointed. I called Aldo’s the day of to make a reservation. My bad -- I should have called earlier. However, the person on the phone told me the restaurant was full tonight. “All night?“ I said. "Yes," he said. “Even at 6.30pm?” I asked. “Perhaps, yes," said he of the gruff tone. “Could I take a chance and stop by?" I asked. “We are busy, “ said the phone person and hung up.
All right. Aldo's was not the most inviting place. Perhaps I just got the wrong person on the phone. Parking was a breeze. There's a big, convenient located parking lot next to this massive 150-seater restaurant. Love that. I was happy until, upon walking in with my party of four, we were greeted with a host who carried on chit-chatting with a gal pal as we waited.
“Hello, good evening,” I said. The young host responded, disgruntled that we interrupted her chat with, “Yes, how many?" No. "HELLO AND WELCOME." What? Okay I was not happy. The most basic common courtesy was not offered here.
It could only get better and it did. Once shown to our table, things were on the up and up.
The waiter was the real deal. He had a thick Italian accent and that only added authenticity to our Aldo’s experience. We loved our server. He was present but not intrusive.
Aldo’s is an old school Italian ristorante, the red and white checkered cloths, a live singer, and keyboard player singing “That's Amore" -- it’s a piece of Italy, nestled in the heart of Los Gatos.
The warm-up cocktail was killer. I ordered a Tom Collins, heavy on the booze, light on soda.
Perfect thing to warm the cockles of my heart, as we looked over the menu, littered with fine Italian fare, with a massive selection of pastas and raviolis. So much to choose.
For starters we went with a couple of apps to share. An Italian fave, the Caprese salad was a good way to start. Big, red, fresh, juicy, sliced tomatoes with lashings of mozzarella on top. It was delicious. The calamari came at about the same time. It was fine. Nothing special, but the portion was enormous.
For my main course I ordered, a special. Something I had never tried before: lobster ravioli with prawns in a Champagne sauce. The serving was overly generous. My main concern: will I be able to finish this? The sauce was a tad too thick and rich and overwhelmed the already flavorful ravioli. And the ravioli itself was perfect, soft and warm and stacked to the gills with scrumptious lobster. It was terribly tasty.
Dessert? We were all a tad full but the dessert menu looked too inviting to turn down.
At $5 a pop, how could we possibly refuse? I had an old fave, Tiramisu. It was the perfect sweety goodness I had hoped for, A wonderful way to end our Aldo’s experience.
The bill came. $176.14 with tip for dinner for four at $44 each. I have had better Italian fare and better service elsewhere. Not a place I would come for an intimate night out. However, for a group meal out and an authentic Italian experience this could be the way to go.
Occupation: Dance Choreographer
Favorite Restaurant: Golden Lotus
Reviewed Aldo's Ristorante & Bar: Sunday June 3, 2007
Aldo's was about a quarter full when and friend and I arrived at 8pm. They had a nice area set up for patio seating, but the night was a bit too cold so we headed inside. The host was very friendly and seated us quickly. The tables were so close together that even without a full house it was noisy.
Unfortunately, they only gave us one menu, but a waitperson immediately brought waters and bread, so we were able to get the second menu at that point. The French bread was served cold and the olive oil had large garlic cloves and peppers, both of which were very good. And then we waited for about ten-plus minutes to order with no communication or eye contact from any server. This left me time to look around and wonder about the somewhat cottage-like wood-paneled walls in contrast with the modern light fixtures. I wouldn't say the decor had a cohesive theme, but it was a warm atmosphere. I did notice very few tables with children and did not see a kid's menu, although I understand that they can make "anything" for children.
When our closed menus pushed to the edge of the table did not reap results, I ended up stopping a server who was walking by and asked if we could please place our order. She said yes, then left, I assumed, to retrieve someone. She came back about three minutes later and took our order. It was not extremely busy and there was wait staff standing around. To our surprise, the food came quickly. My dish was definitely good, but my friend's was only average. The portions were typical for a mid-end Italian restaurant, which is too large for me. In terms of bang for the buck, I was happy with my meal but wouldn't say it was worth $14, ambience included.
I ordered Tagliatelle alla Aldo, which had a cream sauce with nutmeg and pine nuts over linguini. The flavors in the sauce were wonderful and the pasta cooked perfectly. My friend's entree, Timballo de Rigatoni was nothing too special. The tomato sauce seemed a bit acidic and the other flavors of the mushrooms, eggplant, and peas did not add greater dimension to the flavor.
The waiter never checked on us again. No water refills, no concern about our satisfaction. We finished and then waited for about 15 minutes before anyone came to our table to ask if we were done. Possibly this was an "off" night.
I would definitely say the food was on the good side of average, but the prices a touch high for the quality of food and of service.