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cc | Dec 12, 200205:33 PM     2

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)
Palo Alto
(650) 321-3514

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