Donato Enoteca 1041 Middlefield Rd./Main St., (650) 701-1000. L-D daily; $$$.
Operating in a varied space that offers a casual front room, a bar, a posh backroom with upholstered chairs and a rustic wood-paneled ceiling, and patio seating, this popular spot features a contemporary Italian menu. Appetizers include wild boar bruchetta on grilled ciabatta, ungreasy fritto of organic artichokes and rock shrimp, and sometimes a caprese salad with colorful heirloom tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. The prix-fixe menu is a bargain with three courses for $34, and sometimes its dessert is the best of the lot--like when it is poached organic peaches on puff pastry with peach sorbet. Pastas are all housemade and include spinach pappardelle topped with braised lamb in red sauce, small meat-stuffed ravioli, and very popular squid-ink spaghetti with rock shrimp, peas, and grape tomatoes. The risottos are reputedly quite special, and pizza made in a wood-fired oven, grilled whole seabass, and terra cotta-roasted free-range chicken are more options. The wine list is heavy on Italian vintages, and that back room is lined with wine storage cabinets. Delicious bread and dipping sauce is complimentary.
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image ©2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers