Once again, it was a beautiful April day (2004) and I decided to take Kathy and Mika to lunch in downtown Pleasanton before a visit to the Pleasanton Mall. I wanted to eat on the sidewalk, Kathy wanted Italian, and Fontina met both requirements.
We were quickly seated in the fenced-in sidewalk area. I didn't see the inside of the restaurant, but the outside was quite pleasing. A few flowerpots added to the atmosphere and the shining sun made it seem very relaxing. The sun, however, was a little bit too bright. It would not have been comfortable to eat here if I hadn't been wearing sunglasses.
Service was quite good, even though the waiter had to go periodically inside. We never felt he disappeared. Glasses and the bread basket were refilled as needed. The host was particularly attentive to Michaela, making sure she got a high chair and securing her in it. The restaurant has a children's menu so they obviously welcome kids.
The lunch menu was pretty extensive, including appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and a myriad of pastas. For bigger appetites, there are a number of heavy meat dishes, including a tempting lamb shank. Prices are quite high. Most of the pastas were $13-15, which seems quite a lot to pay for lunch. Indeed, the pasta seemed to be same price as they were on the dinner menu. The prices may not have mattered much if the food was outstanding, but neither of us felt it was particularly special - and Kathy, at least, is not what you would call a demanding eater.
I ordered the bandolini pesto (six cheese pasta purses in a creamy pesto sauce with sun-dried tomatoes, and roasted pine nuts - $13). The pesto sauce was indeed very creamy and didn't have the fresh flavors I was looking for. Indeed, besides the very tasty sun-dried tomatoes, it didn't have any distinctive flavors at all.
Kathy had the pollo gorgonzola (penne with chicken, pears, baby spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and gorgonzola-cream sauce - $14), which was even more disappointing. The sauce had barely a hint of gorgonzola, tasting mostly of very mild cream. Neither portion was particularly generous, leaving us to fill up on bread.
Both dishes would probably have been greatly helped by a lot of Parmesan cheese (you can almost always turn a tasteless sauce into a good sauce by adding a lot of cheese). However, the waiter was shredding the cheese directly onto our dishes and I felt too guilty to make him shred too much - it seemed like a lot of work!
On the plus side, the bread we got to eat while waiting for our dishes was very good and fresh. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar were available on the table for dipping.
In all, we had a very nice, relaxing lunch. If the food was considerably better, or much more reasonably priced, I would probably go back. As it is, I think next time I'll try someplace else.
349 Main St,. Suite 150