Vin Santo in Willow Glen used to be one of our go-to restaurants for a nice meal back when I was only a vegetarian. But two years ago a less than successful attempt at finding a vegan meal (and an unfortunate incident involving two melting down nephews and a really long wait for food for them) resulted in a long absence from the restaurant.
Recently I went back with a couple of girlfriends for dinner and found a whole new vegan-friendly Vin Santo waiting...
At first I was concerned because the waiter told us that Vin Santo had been acquired by new owners a year ago. Well, that can go either way. I had appreciated how the previous owners had created a friendly ambience that gave Vin Santo a real neighborhood feel. That was half its charm. I looked around with new eyes, detecting no obvious changes in the atmosphere, but I was definitely reserving judgment.
It didn’t take long to appreciate one change, though. When I told the waiter I was vegan and asked what he recommended, he asked if I’d like to talk to the chef. I can tell you that it doesn’t happen very often that the chef of a restaurant comes out to talk to you because you’re a vegan asking for something off-menu, but every time that it has happened in my past, the resulting meal has been perfect.
This time was no exception. After spending a few minutes asking what I liked, the chef finally asked if I’d just like him to whip something up to surprise me. Well, of course, who wouldn’t?
My trust in the chef’s surprise was rewarded with an absolutely lovely meal. The chef brought it out himself, and said that since he couldn’t decide, he decided to give me four different things. (For which they seemed to have a plate with four sections conveniently available!)
One offering was a light penne marinara; one was roasted artichokes and asparagus; one was a vegetarian risotto and the last was a mix of beets and mushrooms. In other words: all my favorite foods! Something I also appreciated was that the preparation was not only tasty, but simple and very light. Although I had four different dishes to savor, they were each reasonable portions, and quite light. I didn’t roll out of there, I sauntered out... fully satisfied.
That chef (and he has a name: Umberto Pala) is officially my hero!
1346 Lincoln Avenue
San Jose, CA 95125