Bill and Evelyn’s review: 4 thumbs up
Castroville on a Sunday morning (in late January) was sunny, still, and unusually warm. We were sauntering around this charming European style village looking for a bite to eat when we saw a homey looking café. The sign outside the Old Alsatian Ristorante read Open at 11am. From the street, it looked to me like a coffee shop and bakery – a perfect short stop. Instead, Eve and I found a sophisticated restaurant with a varied menu and wine list. Tito, the owner and host, welcomed us and described the specials on the chalkboard perched above a selection of his prized wines. He was kind enough to show us around his charming establishment both inside and out. The patio held the promise of spring and summer dining and Tito opened a small outbuilding that housed a number of civil war era relics left on the property by soldiers who bivouacked there long ago. It will become a small museum. (See the post on Castroville for pictures). After suffering from a lack of appealing eateries on our trip to Sonora and Uvalde, this was a refreshing antidote, a delectable discovery.
Unable to resist temptation, we ordered entrees and wine. Lunch started with a cup of the day’s cauliflower, broccoli and poblano pepper soup. The touch of parmesan and blend of buttery, vegetable goodness exceeded every expectation. Eve chose a spinach and chicken tart served with caesar salad. The savory spinach filling was enhanced with the surprising addition of an occasional fresh green olive, and was held in an airy home made filo crust, absolutely superb. I picked the beef braised with mushrooms, wine and herbs, the garlic mashed potatoes and fresh mixed vegetables. Tito poured me a glass of Chianti to go with the beef, an inspired pairing. I had a sip with each bite. The Pinot Grigio he chose for the tart was fresh, with hints of citrus, another delicious combination. Tito certainly knows what to do with garlic, olive oil, herbs, freshly baked bread and wine. The garden provided the herbs and will yield tasty salad fixings in the months to come. I look forward to my next chance to find out what’s on Tito’s chalkboard.