Leonardo is as nice as he is handsome, you just can’t believe that a man like him still exists. He exudes class and elegance. But can be extremely chatty and friendly, go figure. What ever he is or is not no one really cares, because the first time a fork enters your mouth with his lovely cuisine like me you will be hooked. I came for lunch on my last day in Santa Ynez valley; his restaurant was pretty crowded for a Thursday lunch at noon. The menu has all of my favorite authentic Italian dishes, all with a bit of a twist. Each one better then the next and all hand made by his little brother Giorgio. Yes, here it is all in the family, but distinctly Italian and really fantastic.
Here’s what I tried:
Lentil soup with sausage, kind of like Jewish penicillin but Italian style, wonderful flavors makes this another one of the best as far as lentil soup go.
Melanzane alla Parmigiana, baked Parmesan eggplant, light and fluffy with lots of cheese, this is one of the best ever.
Tagliolini alla Bolognese, with fresh housemade pasta in classic meat sauce. It is really a feat to make a good Bolognese and Leonardo’s is truly stellar.
Spaghetti alle Vongole, spaghetti in a white wine clam sauce. Delicate and subtle but with a nice amount of garlic, a great rendition of this Italian staple.
Gnocchi alla Campana, housemade gnocchi with tomato sauce, basil, and scamorza. Another wonderful menu item, you just can’t go wrong.
Grilled Ahi tuna served over mixed greens with tomatoes, green beans, red onions, green beans, potato, hard-boiled egg, Kalamata olives and lemon vinaigrette. For the lighter lunch, the tuna is so fresh and cooked rare, this is a lovely salad.
Salmon, done with lemon and capers. Super fresh salmon and the serving is small but perfect.
I tried 2 lovely wines as well, that were pared perfectly with my fish and red sauces, but because it was lunch tasting and I was driving back to Los Angeles I didn’t really partake in a large selection of wines. I have to go back and do the dinner menu along with their brilliant selection of wines.
They have photos of the movie The Godfather, as well as a series of Marcello Mastroianni photos in the women’s bathroom. I heard Sofia Loren is in the men’s room, but I did not venture in there.
Experience the authentic, family style Italian cuisine. Leonardo will take you to Cariati, a small town of few thousand people, mostly fishermen and carpenters, in Calabria, Italy. Join him and experience the warm atmosphere of his childhood when getting together at the dinner table was always a feast.
Leonardo’s Ristorante & Pizzeria is located in Solvang, just few miles north of Santa Barbara, California. Leonardo invites you to taste a great variety of classic Italian dishes as well as his interpretations and his new, unique recipes.
Leonardo’s Ristorante & Pizzeria will charm you with its family style atmosphere, where a pizza oven is always burning, an open kitchen will spark your curiosity, and everybody will greet you with a big smile.
632 Alamo Pintado Road
Solvang, CA, 93463
*note some content was taken off of their website.