Italian cuisine, once feared as a high-carb diet heavy on the cheese and oil, has come to be an effortlessly healthy and quite popular choice for vegetarians. With its wide variety of fresh ingredients and cooking techniques, this Mediterranean option has found perfection at downtown Santa Barbara’s Ca’Dario.
Ca’Dario, located on the corner of East Victoria and Anacapa streets, opened in 1997 to overwhelming success — so much so that head chef Dario Furlati eventually opened a pizzeria next door to accommodate all his customers. “Our food is fresh and prepared in the moment,” said Furlati when asked what made his restaurant such a hit. “We don’t cut corners.”
Furlati, a native of Italy, has upheld the Italian tradition of keeping the dishes fresh and light, which is all too important when it comes to vegetarian food. “In Italian cooking, anything can be made vegetarian,” he says of the cuisine’s adaptability.
For his vegetarian clientele, he recommends a fusilli pasta alla puttanesca. With organic produce — Kalamata olives, red and yellow tomatoes, capers, and parsley — and a light dusting of grated pecorino cheese, a simple pasta dish comes to life. When it comes to pasta, it is all too important to add a range of colors in order to make it not only healthy but also exciting. The dish is effortless and inviting, as if it is meant to be enjoyed on a sun-drenched Riviera terrace. Guests can also customize their order by requesting whole-wheat or gluten-free pasta.
Pasta may be nothing new to vegetarians, but it can err on the side of unhealthiness or, perhaps even worse, dullness. Yet Ca’Dario knows how to revive it into a clean and vibrant culinary experience. It may be technically only a primo piatto, but if it’s made right, perhaps it’s all you need.
Ca’Dario is located at 37 East Victoria Street. Call 805-884-9419 and see cadario.net.