Cetrella Los Altos is now open in Los Altos’ new downtown Main Street gateway complex. A project of Cetrella Half Moon Bay, both restaurants are led by General Manager and Partner M’hamed Bahet, with Executive Chef Michael Ellis heading up the kitchen.
Named for the Cetrella Valley on the Italian isle of Capri, the restaurant shares that area’s distinction as a nexus of rustic and free-spirited worldly cuisine. Offering accessible fine dining, Cetrella’s menu showcases Mediterranean rim and California coastal dishes, sourcing from regional growers and purveyors for appetizers such as seafood crudo, mussels, fritto misto, rabbit terrine, foie gras, beef carpaccio, soups, salads, wood-oven pizzas, house-made bread and pasta, and cheese flights. Savory main course options utilize seasonal vegetables, fish, fowl and meat. A bar menu offers charcuterie and wine country picnic options. Dessert includes rotating specialties like chocolate trio, Basque cake with grilled stone fruit and peach gelato, milk chocolate-peanut butter mousse with fig, banana brioche and dark chocolate gelato. The kitchen accommodates patrons with food sensitivities, and vegetarian or vegan preferences.
Chef Ellis grew up on the East Coast where he worked in Washington, DC in the Watergate Hotel and Ritz-Carlton kitchens. In 2004, he joined The Charlie Palmer Group as Sous Chef to Top Chef runner-up Bryan Voltaggio at Palmer’s DC Steak. In 2005, Ellis relocated to the West Coast to join Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel Healdsburg, as Sous Chef to Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio. On Voltaggio’s departure, Ellis became Executive Chef, crafting seasonal menus and dishes using fresh products from artisan partners. Charlie Palmer and Ellis’ work at Dry Creek Kitchen garnered a 2006 Michelin star and the 2007 accolade San Francisco Chronicle “Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants.” In 2008, Palmer and Ellis won the Restaurants & Institutions magazine Ivy Award, alongside Grant Achatz’s Alinea in Chicago and Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York City, nominated respectively by 2007 winners Alice Waters of Chez Panisse of Berkeley, New York’s “21” Club, and Charlie Trotter of Chicago. Subsequently working in San Francisco and Palo Alto, Ellis went on to master modern American steakhouse and outdoor barbecue cuisines, and then contributed to an organic fine dining, progressive menu concept showcasing four elements: earth-vegetarian, land-meat, water-seafood and air-poultry.
Designed by Hayes Group Architects, Cetrella Los Altos seats 90 guests in the main dining room, has a full service bar, an outdoor patio and offers substantial scalable private event capabilities contoured in a space delineated by dramatic curtains. Highlights of the hybrid natural and tech decor include a chic coastal forest palette, natural light, wood and fiber accents, high ceilings with recessed spotlights, stone tile flooring, an exhibition kitchen, tables topped with reclaimed wood, leather and fabric chairs, banquette seating, state of the art light and sound systems and a bar counter topped with black marble. Large-scale commissioned artworks by Santa Cruz artist Matt Farrar depict local-area scenes of a creek, foothills and redwoods, distinguishing the locale-named dining spaces as a nod to Los Altos’ early reputation as the “Crown of the Peninsula” and Santa Clara Valley’s as the “Valley of Heart’s Delight.”
The restaurant’s full bar offers a diverse selection of classic, contemporary and signature cocktails such as The Cetrella Cocktail, Crown of the Peninsula and Grotto Margarita. Cetrella’s wine list presents a wide-ranging library of international wines, providing pleasing pairings with the cuisine. It showcases vintages from ten countries, with strong regional holdings and more than a dozen varietals from revered Old World producers to prominent New World wineries and rising stars. Completing the collection are signature wines, Cetrella Private Cellars Syrah and Cabernet from Cetrella’s sister enterprise, Liquid Sky Vineyards of Moon Mountain in Sonoma. The bar and lounge seats 20 guests at tables and 11 at the bar counter. Local area musicians perform live jazz on Fridays and Saturdays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Cetrella Los Altos is the second venue in the Cetrella Half Moon Bay family that launched in 2001 to national recognition including a feature in Gourmet Magazine, plus locally, designation as a San Francisco Chronicle “Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants” and a San Francisco Magazine “Top 75 Bay Area Restaurants.”
Cetrella Los Altos is located at 400 Main Street, on the corner of First Street. The restaurant is open seven days a week, serving lunch weekdays, dinner nightly and brunch on weekends. The web address is http://www.cetrella.com/. An updated web site designed by IdeaWork Studios with photography by Eric Wolfinger will launch in a few weeks.