Announcing Tomato Dinners


 September 16th-19th, 2015

It is the height of summer to us when our kitchen is packed with Purple Cherokees, laden with Lemon Boys, brimming with Brandywines, mad with Marvel Stripes, besieged with Big Boys, seething with Sun Golds, engulfed in Early Girls, girded with Green Zebras, and submerged in Sweet 100s. In other words, it’s the height of summer when our kitchen is teeming with tomatoes for our Tomato Dinners, which feature the best tomatoes of the season, in as many dishes as we can think up.

Our marvelous Tomato Dinners are from Wednesday September 16th through Saturday the 19th.

Let the tide of tomatoes begin!

By |August 26th, 2015|Coming up..., Events|0 Comments

Sunday Farmhouse Supper, August 30th

photo by Tiberio Frascari


Fritto of ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms

Spaghetti alla trapanese

Charcoal-grilled swordfish alla palermitana with rosemary,
anchovies, and roasted potatoes


Dessert TBD

Prix fixe $40.
Served family-style. For parties of one to twelve.

The whole table must order the prix fixe menu.
(Please note that wine and service charge are not included.)

Larger parties: please let us know at the time of your reservation if your table will be ordering the Sunday Supper menu so that we can plan accordingly. Thanks!

By |August 26th, 2015|2015, Coming up..., Sunday Farmhouse Supper|0 Comments

Think Big — Go Ahead.


There are only two days left of Randall Grahm’s (Bonny Doon Vineyard) crowdfunding campaign for his new, incredible, vineyard Popelouchum. Several great perks remain, including the unique opportunity to sit at the table and dine with Randall and New York Times food writer Mark Bittman as they discuss Randall’s most audacious plan yet – to create a true California terroir-driven wine.

It will surely be an amazing meeting of the minds. Over the years, we’ve never missed an opportunity to hear Randall’s intellectually rigorous flights of fancy. We’re equally eager to spend time with our newer friend, the immensely insightful and knowledgeable journalist Mark Bittman. And we’re thrilled to host an intimate dinner with both of them at Oliveto.

Popelouchum is a vineyard in San Juan Bautista that’s trying to take California terroir-driven winemaking into its next phase. To listen to Grahm speak about it- or write about it,  as he does, prodigiously, on his blog – the undertaking is immense, with wide-ranging considerations that are at once terrestrial and poetic.

With Popelouchum, he hopes to breed new grape varieties by planting them by seed (as opposed to cloning). The goals of his breeding plan are many. We’ve teased out a few for you:

  • To discover new grape varieties that reveal the unique characteristics of his land. Instead of mimicking Burgundy in its traditions and its grapes, Grahm hopes to discover a uniquely Californian wine – just as haunting as the Burgundies, and with its own character, nuances, and enchantments.
  • To discover new varieties that are “less needful of heroic levels of intervention”, and that require less water. (Such grapes could have “greater utility in a warmer, drier world”.)

To be privy to Grahm’s dreams makes one’s head swim in the most pleasant way. And to be able to help in making the dreams a reality, will make such swimming an even greater delight.

We think Popelouchum is a profoundly worthwhile endeavor, and we hope many will get into it. In support, we are also offering a free pizza downstairs in the Cafe if you bring us a receipt of your contribution of $25 or more to Randall’s extraordinary project.

To take part, read more here.

By |August 20th, 2015|California, Coming up...|0 Comments

A Special Sunday with Food and Wine of Alto Piemonte, August 16th


Grapes from the Boniperti estate. Photo courtesy of Oliver McCrum.

Grapes from the Boniperti estate. Photo courtesy of Oliver McCrum.

We’re excited to be hosting young winemaker Cristiano Garella for a tasting and dinner this coming Sunday. A brilliant winemaker who made his mark for the best part of his twenties as the principal winemaker for Tenute Sella, one of the most important wine estates in the Northern Piedmont, he brought it back to life with his talent. He is now consulting for several exciting small, young wineries aligned with his vision.

Cristiano will be in the dining room for the evening, pouring his wines by the glass, and we’ll be serving a few piemontese regional dishes:

Antipasto: Magruder beef short rib with grilled bitter greens, sugo, and Floriani red flint corn polenta

Primi: riso al Nebbiolo: risotto with Nebbiolo, grana padano cheese, and black pepper

pasta: agnolotti dal plin

Secondo: duck alla Vallesana with potatoes; currant-pine nut salsa

The wines we’ll be tasting come from small up-and-coming wineries that make wines using traditional methods. Boniperti is a small family estate managed by young Gilberto Boniperti and is a producer that’s “one to watch” according to importer Oliver McCrum. La Prevostura is a new estate with vineyards in Lessona and Bramaterra, in northern Piedmont. The first vintage bottled was 2009. Its Lessona vineyard was famous for its wine a century ago, when it was owned by the Marquis La Marmora. Garella’s work with Le Pianelle will also be represented.

Cristiano will also be offering a tasting of these wines from 5:30 to 6:15; register here.

There will be no Sunday Supper that evening.

By |August 12th, 2015|Events, Happened already..., Uncategorized|0 Comments

Sunday Farmhouse Supper, August 9th



Caprese salad of tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil

Risotto alla milanese

Magruder beef chuck roll with olive oil and whipped potatoes


Buttermilk panna cotta with stone fruit

Prix fixe $40.
Served family-style. For parties of one to twelve.

The whole table must order the prix fixe menu.
(Please note that wine and service charge are not included.)

Larger parties: please let us know at the time of your reservation if your table will be ordering the Sunday Supper menu so that we can plan accordingly. Thanks!

By |August 6th, 2015|2015, Happened already..., Sunday Farmhouse Supper|0 Comments

While the Cat’s Away


Chef Jonah’s been taking some time off to climb Mt. Whitney, but luckily we have a deep bullpen. Our stellar kitchen is stepping up while he’s away, with sous chefs Hans Huysentruyt and Antoine Steele serving great food.

Because our menu changes so much, this is an opportunity for them to step forward and stretch creatively. Out of this is coming some fantastic food.

Antoine is doing a dish this week with enormously complex flavors in response to our warm summer weather – an albacore crudo that’s cool, refreshing and bright. The albacore is cured lightly in salt and then seared – a Japanese technique that brings out the fish’s natural acidic tang. This is accompanied by an ice cold cucumber-Meyer lemon succo – English, Persian, and lemon cucumbers and Meyer lemons juiced and clarified. A marinated radicchio and fennel slaw gives the dish texture, and just a bare dash of intensely concentrated mint oil rounds out the dish.

Meanwhile, Hans is immersed in developing some new ideas for the cafe, which we look forward to sharing with you soon.

By |August 6th, 2015|Coming up..., Uncategorized|0 Comments

Randall Grahm’s Visionary Project


Grahm planting some of the first grapes at Popelouchum.


Visit Randall Grahm’s Restaurant Row and make something happen.

Our friend Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard has launched a project, a “life’s work” kind of project, to create an original vineyard that in every way mines the attributes of place.

Hearing a winemaker speak of terroir has become meaningless. But that doesn’t mean that terroir is without meaning.  Randall’s search for terroir is brilliant, far-reaching, and though hard to imagine, makes you want to imagine.  The vineyard is being built at his new property in San Juan Bautista, and is called Popelouchum.

Read about it here, and consider supporting it.  It is so rare to have the opportunity to support something actually original. There are perks involved.  Note Randall’s very fine Restaurant Row.


Restaurant_Row_Grid 8.3.15 FOUR ONLY (1)


By |August 5th, 2015|California, Coming up..., Events|0 Comments

A Tasting with Alto Piemonte’s Brilliant Young Winemaker Cristiano Garella

We are great admirers of young winemaker Cristiano Garella. Considered a “whiz kid” by Wine Spectator, he quickly made his mark with outrageously good wines in the emerging region of Northern Piedmont. At the age of 23, he was made the winemaker of Tenute Sella, the most prominent winery in the region at that time, and manager of the whole estate a year later. Now 30, he is a consulting winemaker for a number of small producers in Northern Piedmont, and one in the Oltrepò Pavese.

“Cristiano is my kind of enologist,” says wine importer Oliver McCrum, “very technologically savvy but committed to making wines that express terroir through largely traditional techniques. He’s an amazing taster, too.”

This area is considered up-and-coming, but actually the area was producing Nebbiolo far before Barolo and Barbaresco became fashionable — in fact it is the original home of Nebbiolo, and these new wines are a reconnection to the area’s past and its long-held traditions, which are capable of producing beautiful, age-worthy reds with character.

We will be tasting four wines based on the delicate and complex Nebbiolo grape, coming from three different growing areas in Northern Piedmont — Bramaterra, Fara, and Lessona, all with varying soil types and terrain. These wines come from small, young wineries for which Garella consults: Le Pianelle, Boniperti, and La Prevostura. Garella makes wine organically, favoring a low-intervention approach with natural yeasts.

After the tasting, our menu upstairs will feature Garella’s wines by the glass and Piedmontese dishes, and Garella will be present to discuss his wines.
August 16th, 5:30 pm to 6:15 pm



By |July 30th, 2015|Commons Past Events, Events, Happened already..., Italy, Piedmont, Wine Events|Comments Off

Sunday Farmhouse Supper, August 2nd

Lazio (Roman Campagna)

Artichokes alla romana with breadcrumbs and Parmesan

Spaghetti all’amatriciana

Magruder beef saltimbocca with roasted potatoes


Whipped buffalo yogurt with summer fruit

Prix fixe $40.
Served family-style. For parties of one to twelve.

The whole table must order the prix fixe menu.
(Please note that wine and service charge are not included.)

Larger parties: please let us know at the time of your reservation if your table will be ordering the Sunday Supper menu so that we can plan accordingly. Thanks!

By |July 29th, 2015|2015, Coming up..., Sunday Farmhouse Supper|0 Comments

How We Got to a Great Burger

Mac Magruder’s animals have simply outstanding genetics and flavor. We showcase it as much as we can, and to this end we’ve been going through a whole steer from Magruder Ranch every three weeks. This is uncommon for restaurants to do, because it takes special planning and capabilities. Most places don’t have a meat locker, and it’s really difficult to use the whole beef efficiently.

We’re trying to use Mac’s meat throughout the restaurant and increasingly in the cafe (we have some big cafe plans we’ll tell you about soon), but utilization is so tough. This is when Chef Jonah’s hamburger zeal came to the fore – an American lad leapt out of a very fine Italian chef. What’s a great burger? Ask Jonah.

When it comes to burgers, Jonah has clear, strong convictions. He thinks that burgers should not be overly complex or frou-frou, with jalapenos or truffles or thingummies, and that ketchup, on its own, has no place on a burger for grown-ups. They should be what they are, and nothing more. And for that, certain things need to be in place.

Jonah’s Burger:
  • The beef itself has been seasoned throughout, with enough fat in it that it doesn’t need cheese.
  • The patty shouldn’t be flaccid or soggy, so we’re using cuts like brisket and short rib, which have gelatin in it and will give the patty good body.
  • We’re using a house-made Thousand Island-style dressing of ketchup, aioli, Dijon mustard, pickle, and red onion. It’s applied to the top half of the bun, so that the juice from the meat can drip into the bun.
  • The bun needs to be exceptional. We tried several bun recipes and found a challah we like that won’t fall apart easily. It’s fried in butter – not grilled, but fried so that the edges of the bun have a delicate crunch to it.
  • Jonah thinks burgers should always have a pickled component. We’re using pickled onions in a particular proportion to fresh onion.
  • A good, fresh butter lettuce finishes it off.

Our burger comes with either French fries fried in beef fat (that’s right, same animal) and laced with espelette and pimenton, or a fresh green salad spiky with vinegar.

Upstairs, we’re making this classic hamburger at lunchtime, Monday through Friday. Perhaps the best burger you will ever have, possibly life changing.

By |July 21st, 2015|Coming up..., Magruder Ranch, This Just In|0 Comments