Cetrella, Los Altos, CA

400 Main St.
Los Altos, CA 94022

Neighborhood: Village gateway
Cuisine: Mediterranean and California coastal cuisine
$$$ = $50 and less – Higher priced
Four Forks = Defines excellence in for local dining.  Worth the investment

Monday through Thursday, & Sunday
11:00 am – 2:00 pm
5:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Friday & Saturday
11:00 am – 2:00 pm
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Handicap accessible: Yes
Parking: Garage, Street, Private Lot
Vegetarian options: Yes
Kid-friendly: No
Liquor served: Full bar
Wine List: International wine library
Outdoor seating: Yes
Reservations: Yes

Unique: Venues, Event Spaces, Jazz & Blues.  Cetrella is a spacious restaurant that specializes in private dinners, receptions, weddings and business meetings.  They can accommodate private parties from small groups to a maximum of 240 persons and are pretty straight forward about how to reserve a room.  A food and beverage minimum is required, specific to each dining area but there is the added plus of no room set-up fee or room charge.

Bill and I were visiting from out of state and meeting up with friends.  We arrived early and decided to have a glass of wine at the bar.  We chose the 2011 Les Chataigniers Sancerre, France, Sancerre Blanc.  They have decent options by the glass and the wine list includes vintages from ten countries, with strong regional holdings and more than a dozen varietals, including French Bordeaux and Burgundies, Italian Barolos and Tuscans, Spanish Priorats, Austrian Grüner Veltliner and German Mosel-Saar Riesling, and New World Chardonnays and Cabernets.  There was an impressive display of higher end wines in the bar area but overall prices were fair.  The bars ambiance was calm and elegant.  We had inquired ahead of time and chose to pay the corkage fee of $25 per bottle with dinner since we always travel with wine.


Our bartender paid the utmost attention to details – but we almost felt a bit uncomfortable for him because it was clear that the host, who was also the owner (M’hamed Bahet) may be a bit of an authoritarian.  None the less, once we were seated for dinner we quickly descovered he meant well and would rather have meticulous service than the alternative!

The interior is a beautifully designed restaurant that is contemporary and classy.  It’s dining spaces are elegant, yet relaxed.  We appreciated the owner genuinely making us feel welcome even though our party was casually dressed.  He was attentive and thoughtful while he brought a level of class and sophistication to our experience.  He paid attention to detail and once he learned that Bill was a winemaker he instructed our server Mario to exchange the conventional wine glasses to upscale ones understanding that those would bring out the varietal’s best qualities.

I appreciate that they have embraced the open-kitchen trend.  I enjoy seeing the way ingredients are being used and how they go from the kitchen to plate.  All of the sounds, the smells, and the sights of cooking really elevate the experience.

The locals say that Cetrella has raised the fine dining bar in Los Altos.  With an emphasis on accessible fine dining, the menus include seasonal egg, salad and sandwich entrées and soups, raw seafood, cheese flights, house-made bread and pasta, grilled vegetables, fish, fowl, field and game meats, rotating rustic entrées and house-made desserts.  Just take a look at their website and you will see that things are done a cut above the rest.

Complementary: Nothing. Notta, which actually surprised me.  A simple basket of bread is typically a people pleaser, but there was a large enough variety of menu items that are presented elegantly and should suit any fare.

We toasted to our friendships while we shared our starters as our food arrived punctually and tasting delicious.

Shared plates: Burrata and San Daniele Prosciutto Crostini, $16

Grilled house-baked bread, frisée, persimmon, balsamic gastrique.  Delicious!

Happy Boy Farms Beet and Arugula Salad, $12

Roasted red beet, Chioggia beet carpaccio, pumpkin seed, herbed goat cheese, white balsamic-honey vinaigrette.  Very flavorful!

Daily Oyster Selection each, $3

Miyagi & Beausoleil, chipotle cocktail, lemon.  Fresh and flavorful.

We enjoyed Bills choice of the Merriam Vineyards 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Rockpile with our Entree’s:

Cappelletti, $24

Cappelletti Filled with Truffle Polenta organic pork and beef meatball, academia barilla pecorino gran cru, fresh oregano.

Pumpkin Agnolotti, $22

Rapini, balsamic, maple beurre-noisette, toasted pumpkin seed.  Extremely flavorful.

Duck, $30

Seared Pitman Farms Duck Breast 30 toasted farro, happy boy farms butternut squash purée, brussels sprout, pomegranate jus.  Very good.

Special Whole Fish, $35


I wasn’t familiar with the variety of the white fish, so they presented it to me prior to serving.  It had been boned and was a very mild, flaky delicious dish!

Shared side dishes: Truffle Fries, $10

Fine herbs, pecorino, white truffle oil.  Outstanding.

Asparagus, $8

Perfectly seared and seasoned lightly with fresh olive oil, toasted garlic, and chili flake.  Vegetables are a must for me and they cooked them perfectly tender to the bite.

Brussels, $8

Gorgonzola, lemon, fine herbs, currant.  Perfect.

I typically skip Dessert and chose a glass of port, but I may have mentioned that I have a sweet tooth.  An after dinner menu offers apéritifs, house specialty desserts, and a cheese flight.  Take a look at their offering of a global selection of dessert wines, grappas, and ports by the glass.

Three of the party were all in and of course, we had to have Ferreira Tawney 10 year, $12

It was delicious!  The owner decided that we should share a few more options so he comped -$19 of the desserts!  Each and every dish presented was artistic and pleasing to the eye, while they tasted great too and all four of us shared bites.

Three Cheese, $19

Just the right size and very flavorful.

Our server recommended the Chocolate Trio, $10

Layers of chocolate cake, hazelnut, chocolate cremeux, dark chocolate mousse. Scrumptious!

Creme Brulee, $10

Raspberry Coulis, shortbread cookie with seasonal fruit.  Though it was good, I’m particularly adept to Creme Brulee’s and I’ve had better.

Mascarpone Cheesecake, $10

Strawberries. Very good.

Panna Cotta, $9

Strawberries, saba, citrus truffle.  It sure was pretty, but it was just “OK” and not memorable.

No one left hungry!  This was more food than we would typically eat, but it was heavenly and we’ll be back!  We thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance, exceptional service, and the food.

Bon appetit!