Carpaccio in Carpinteria

Giannfranco's Trattoria

Giannfrancos.jpgSoon after a gracious greeting and
seating, your server brings to the table a saucer with an
overturned condiment cup. With a flourish, the cup is lifted away,
and a pool of golden olive oil rich with herbs and sun-dried tomato
bits spreads across the saucer. This is, of course, for dipping
with the fresh, moist, warm slices of pane embedded with roasted
garlic cloves that keep coming to your table. And this is how a
visit begins at Carpinteria’s newest restaurant, Giannfranco’s

Carp offers a wide variety of eateries, but those that aspire to
the “fine dining” end of the spectrum have lately been too few.
Now, foodies from S.B. or Ventura have a new reason to drive to
Carp for lunch and dinner. And Carpinterians can rejoice that their
beloved Zookers Café is no longer their only high-end hometown

Giannfranco’s Trattoria opened in early February and has been
delighting patrons ever since, as the buzz spreads that this is
Carp’s newest place to try. It is located in the remodeled space
that once housed the memorable Deli House, a favorite lunch spot in
its heyday.

This is a family business, with Frank Contreras and Anna C.
Sherwyn having partnered with their talented son, Giovanni A.
Sherwyn — for years a private chef for wealthy clients in Lake
Sherwood, and a 1997 graduate of SBCC’s culinary program.

The menu has no pizza; its pastas, salads, antipasti, and panini
emphasize lighter meats and several no-meat choices, all prepared
with a master chef’s panache for creatively combining primo
ingredients with expert-level technique and impressive
presentation. So far, my wife and I have enjoyed the following:

• “Famous chopped salad” with red leaf and iceberg lettuces,
hearts of palm, Roma tomatoes, avocado, red onion, grilled chicken,
and toasted pine nuts with a lemon mustard vinaigrette ($10).
• Black mussels and Manila clams steamed in a saffron-and-herb
seasoned broth (appetizer, $11). • Oven-roasted Portobello
mushrooms with sautéed garlic spinach and a port wine sauce
(appetizer, $9). • Ciao Bella: Rigatoni with chicken, kalamatas,
sun-dried tomatoes, and broccoli in a chardonnay cream • Risotto
Mare Monte: Arborio rice, shiitake mushrooms, and tiger shrimp,
prepared with white-truffle-infused olive oil ($16).

There are many more dishes (including the carpaccio) we still
look forward to trying. Note, by the way, that the prices are not
as high-end as the cuisine.

Giannfranco’s has a respectable wine list with good area choices
(Foxen, Jaffurs) as well as many intriguing, carefully selected
Italian varietals.

The menu keeps the finale a secret, but I won’t: Don’t leave
here without scoping out the extraordinary desserts. These are not
just confections, they’re sculptures — in chocolate, fruits,
creams, mousses, and cake. You’ll want to take their picture as
much as eat them. They’re created by Gio’s sister, Claudia Kazemi,
who is a high-end catering talent in her own right.

Giannfranco’s Trattoria, 666 Linden Avenue, Carpinteria. Lunch,
11am-3pm; lighter fare, 3-5pm; dinner, 5-9pm; closed Tuesdays.
Reservations required for parties of six or more; call


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