Lavanda is a newish Wine Bar/Restaurant right on the main drag in downtown Palo Alto.
It has a fantastic - if fairly pricey wine list, and the space is beautiful.
The food is mostly Italian/Mediterranean, leavened with a light California touch.
We started with 3 of the small plates,which ran $12 in total. They were all fantastic. The first was grilled calamari that was in a light vinagarette. The calamari was first-rate quality and it was delicious. The second plate was forest mushrooms, tiny minced carrots, parsley and a light olive oil dressing. Very light and tasty. The third was sweet and sour peppers, orange and red mostly. Raisins were in the mix too which was tasty -- I believe this was probably a Sicilian-influenced dish. Also really savory.
For the main courses we had a Fusilli with light cream tomato/vodka/spicy pepper sauce. They cooked the pasta pefectly and did not oversauce it. It was quite a spicy dish which I liked. An excellent dish, one of the best pastas I've had recently.
The other main was a baked penne with mozzarella/ricotta/pecorino and peas. Good, but not as good as the former. Still it was a respectable pasta dish. The dessert was really good and very sophisticated but I can't really remember exactly what it was called as I didn't order it -- I do remember it having a great creamy lemon quality to it.
Service was attentive, unobtrusive. The wines we ordered were delicious and they have a fairly extensive by the glass program so you can check out some unusual varieties. Lavanda is not inexpensive but certainly worth investigating.
185 University Ave. (at Emerson)
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