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Sunday
Apr122009

Olio e Limone - fine Italian cuisine in Santa Barbara

 The husband-wife team of Alberto and Elaine Morello opened Olio e Limone Ristorante in 1999. Executive Chef Alberto offers classic Italian cooking with a special focus on Sicilian dishes. Elaina runs the front of the house. The wine list is very solid, with several hundred selections. They have been Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winners since 2002.

A recent visit over a long holiday weekend we had the chance to try a couple of classics. To start, a well prepared Carpaccio di Bue con Rugola e Parmiggiano. Tender, thinly sliced Filet of Beef, with Arugula, Capers and Shaved Parmiggiano. The dish was dressed ever so lightly with a lemon vinaigrette. A few turns of ground black pepper worked nicely to spice it up. I found a nice balance of flavors with salt, oil, bitter greens, nutty cheese and great texture contrasts. A fresh 2006 Argiolas Vermentino from Sardegna was a good match.

Sometimes a good test for kitchen is to try a simple classic preparation. Here I tried one of my personal favorites. A pounded and simply seasoned, breaded Costata di Maiale Milanese served bone in (pork chop), with roasted Potatoes and Broccoli Rabe. Eating this dish transported me to a family kitchen in Italy. Here the secret is not to over season, over cook, or over sauce. I was not disappointed… a nearly perfect rendition. A glass of simple Chianti paired well.

The restaurant decor offers a clean, classic and tranquil dinning room with understated, well dressed tables. A most cordial and informed wait staff make me feel at home. Cocktails are also available…

otv rating (0 to 20)

food: 17
service: 16
vibe: 16
$$ to $$$

Olio e Limone
11 West Victoria - Suite 17
Santa Barbara, CA
(805) 899-2699
online

Monday
Mar302009

Julienne offers great flavors and presentation

A new kid on the block, Julienne is named after the culinary term “portion of food cut into shortthin strips” is doing some nice work as it gets it’s leg’s. Making the effort to use locally sourced produce, sustainably raised seafood and meats whenever possible; owners Justin and Emma West come from a culinary school background. I believe that Justin’s family was in the business as well. Chef de Cuisine Richard’s came over from the Wine Cask to help create an ambitious, varied and interesting menu. They offer á la carte items, as well as a tasting menu with either 3, 5, or 7 course selections. Priced at $45.00 to $85.00 they offer wine parings at additional charge.

Menu items we tried included a Ballotine of Chicken with a warm german styled potato salad and baby carrots. This was a great idea but somehow missed the mark. The Crispy Kurobuta Pork Belly done with a Brussels Sprout Hash, Bacon and a Spicy Maple Gastrique (a thick sauce produced by reduction) looked great.  A Salad of Organic Greens, Gorgonzola and Dried cranberries, Walnuts with a sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette was well prepared. We shared a wonderful and inventive Creme Brulee Napoleon done with Phyllo Crisps and Peach Coulis. Service was a bit slow on the night we visited, with a large break between courses on what seemed to be an otherwise slow evening. Good, food friendly wine list. And… a recent plug from Anthony Bourdain will help keep them growing.

(0 to 20) off the vine rating:
food: 16
service: 13

vibe: 15
price: $$ to $$$


138 E Canon Perdido St
Santa Barbara, Ca
(805) 845-6488
online-view map