Arriving in California from Mexico City at age 18, Victor Carranza dove headfirst into a lifetime of culinary dedication. Learning all there was to know about the inner workings of a kitchen, he climbed his way through the ranks, eventually landing at Piatti as chef. During his 13 years in the Piatti kitchen, Carranza developed a deep passion for Italian cooking. But, like most chefs, he always dreamed of having his own place.
Last month that dream became a reality as he and his wife, Toni, celebrated the opening of Ristorante Tiramisu in the heart of Paseo Nuevo. Stepping into their cozy courtyard feels like entering another world. Oozing European charm, with a mural of Venice and a staff that is friendly and efficient, Carranza’s restaurant makes customers feel like they’re in the old country.
Choosing what to eat at Tiramisu is a challenge. The innovative menu is bursting with fresh ingredients in imaginative combinations, and nearly everything is made from scratch. Starting with the Melanzane con Prosciutto ($7.25), however, is an easy decision. The roasted eggplant roll is filled with prosciutto, goat cheese, fresh basil, and balsamic reduction.
The Pizza con Funghi is one of the best pizzas in town. A brick oven turns the light, crispy crust into cloud nine for the plump shiitake, oyster, button, and portobello mushrooms. Layered with mozzarella, caramelized onions, and gorgonzola, it’s a steal at under $10. There are four other scrumptious-looking pizzas as well as sandwiches on freshly baked focaccia.
It’s not much of a stretch to imagine Carranza and his staff working like elves in the middle of the night making their fresh pasta and ravioli. Their labor of love is well represented in dishes like the Mezza Luna di Zucca ($12.50). The ravioli with roasted butternut squash, pecorino cheese, and crisp sage cream sauce melts in the mouth while firing the synapses.
Carranza and company are well prepared for high expectations when it comes to the restaurant’s namesake. Their traditional tiramisu is delightful with an extra current of espresso rum rolling through each bite. They also have a citrus version for those in an adventurous mood. Now there’s some extra incentive to go shopping.
4·1·1 Ristorante Tiramisu, 12 W. De la Guerra (in Paseo Nuevo), 962-3805.