Trattoria Grappolo

A Special After Hours Dinner from Santa Ynez’s Italian Gem


As my friends and I exited The Maverick
after an evening of music last month, our thoughts
quickly turned to food. Being the latest inductee into the
impeccable Tales from the Tavern series (for those of you who have
not yet discovered this musical gem another opportunity arises on
December 6 with Tom
), Tom Rush and his guitar kept us well and truly
spiritually nourished. And that was necessary, because in the
weeknight frenzy of rounding off commitments and then treking
across the mountain to the valley, we arrived at the concert having
foregone dinner.


As the brisk night air descended upon us, we were quickly drawn
to the warmth emanating from the veranda of Trattoria Grappolo (which eloquently resides next to
the rustic Maverick) and decided to try our luck. The restaurant
(whose owners Chef Leonardo Curti and Daniele Serra are pictured)
had just closed, but one of our party weaved her magic and managed
to secure us a seating. Despite being pulled away from the kitchen
counter, where he was very comfortably relaxing with his
colleagues, Eric (pictured below) — the restaurant manager —
enthusiastically showed us to our places and diligently tended to
our needs.


We were offered a menu at the chef’s discretion. While this
meant he decided what we would be served, we were, however,
presented with a wine list. As we sat and talked and pondered what
was coming, a bottle of 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon from Justin Vineyard
kept us company. A house green salad featuring an array of baby
green leaves accompanied by ripe roma tomatoes, goat cheese, and a
delectably reserved dash of balsamic vinaigrette dressing was first
to arrive. By the time the salad had been dealt with and the level
of the red retreated, the main fare sprung forth.


For our main course, we were presented with lasagna. The cheeses
were light and rich and the pasta fell apart at the command of the
fork. The sauce was sweet and an ample serving of bread ensured
there was more than adequate conveyance for its remnants. And, just
when we thought we were done, dessert emerged. Graciously arranged
upon an elongated plate (and presented with three spoons) were
servings of tiramisu, chocolate flourless cake, and crème brulee. A
common problem with sharing an array of deserts is that people can
gravitate towards one offering. But, in this instance, we each had
our respective favorite. Mine was unquestionably the tiramisu,
which offered a lightness and delicacy that ensured it was fully

Just like a concert is more than the songs that are performed, a
dining experience is more than simply the food. On the spur of the
moment, Trattoria Grappolo served up a divine ad-hoc offering. And
just as the food was great, so too was the service. We were treated
more like house guests than customers — and we didn’t even have to
help with the dishes!

The Details: Trattoria Grappolo is located at 3687 Sagunto
Street in Old Town Santa Ynez. Call 688-6899 or see


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