“What you see is what you get,” explains Tiziano Fioretti, the passionate executive chef and co-owner of Mosto Crudo, the new tapas and wine bar that serves high-quality yet uncooked fare in a convivial atmosphere right off State Street on West Haley. “The focus of our menu is to have the best ingredients you can find.”
Fioretti opened the restaurant with co-owner Alejandra Garcia last month in the location of The Champagne Room, a sparkling wine bar that lasted about one year. With no kitchen and only raw options, covering up subpar dishes would indeed be difficult. Thankfully, from the locally made and imported cheeses to the produce and bread from the nearby farmers’ market to the remarkably fresh fish from the Santa Barbara Fish Market, all aspects of these tapas sing of excellence.
Fioretti is originally from Rome, and Garcia has deep Spanish roots (she was born and raised in Puerto Rico, but spent much time with relatives in Spain), so they bring a distinctly European flair to their menu and ambience. “We tried to make it all Spanish,” Garcia said of their menu. “Tiziano did culinary school in Rome, so you can taste a lot of those influences. I just decided it’s fusion.”
The small-European-café vibe extends to the ambience as well, which features a long, rustic wood bar, Edison light bulbs hanging from the ceiling, and art for sale on the walls. It feels custom-made for spontaneous conversations and surprisingly late nights, powered by both California and Italian wines. With the enthusiastic and personable service of Fioretti and Garcia, you’ll want to keep ordering all night long.
Highlights include the raw scallops, whose buttery quality is complemented by Italian extra-virgin olive oil, organic spinach, dollops of yogurt Caesar dressing, and a hint of orange, brought together with a sprinkling of sea salt from Mount Etna in Sicily. The steak tartare also dazzles. Piled onto farmers’ market whole-wheat focaccia and seasoned with parsley, anchovies, and asparagus, it stood up strongly to the Super Tuscan red blend pairing.
Fioretti’s excitement for ingredients is contagious and was especially evident as he led us into the kitchen to showcase their imported jamón ibérico, which we enjoyed with a tempranillo. “It’s almost like caramel,” he said with a smile as we eagerly closed our eyes to enjoy each bite. “It melts in your mouth; it’s fantastic.”
The cheese board consisted of a lovingly selected trio of Spanish manchego, French brie, and a sharp Castelmagno from Piedmont alongside local honey, berries, and seeds. “It’s either local, or it’s Spain or Italy,” Fioretti said of the carefully curated ingredients used in their ever-changing menu.
The bar also serves beer and hosts happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday, and a late-night happy hour on Friday and Saturday from 10 p.m. to midnight, and has plans for live music in the future.
Mosto Crudo is located at 7 West Haley Street. Call (805) 338-3641.