America, Italy & Greece

ONE BIG PLATE OF HAPPY: The Boozy French Toast at Roots and Rye gets the crowds out of bed on the weekends.

ONE BIG PLATE OF HAPPY: The Boozy French Toast at Roots and Rye gets the crowds out of bed on the weekends.

Roots and Rye: American Comfort Food

Mastermind restaurateur Chris Yeo, who brought us Straits and Sino, has delivered another solid culinary masterpiece in Roots and Rye, next to Maggiano’s on Santana Row.

Here you’ll find a frequently changing variety of creative appetizers, well-crafted salads, bodaciously-built burgers and unique takes on classic comfort foods, as well as a cocktail program that relies on flavors that work well together. The brunch menu features delights for the entire family.

For lunch, if it’s a chilly day and only soup will hit the spot, go for the spicy-creamy tomato bisque to accompany unctuous grilled cheese on batard, or the deconstructed chicken pot pie, laden with goodness and topped with crunchy-crusted mini biscuits. Deviled eggs, chicken liver mousse and foie gras are among the diverse share plates. Don’t miss the red quinoa salad with blistered cauliflower or pork belly sliders. The turkey burger with pistachio gremolata, huckleberry jam and brie on potato pepper bun is a signature offering. Brunch features duck confit hash and candy bar pancakes and waffles, along with maple candied bacon served with scrambled eggs and buttermilk biscuit.

Some of the more intriguing cocktails are things like Punch Cut, a trippy beverage made from mezcal, Manzanilla sherry, salted watermelon syrup, lemon, bitters and sparkling wine. Or perhaps you’d like something even deeper and darker for a February day. The Seersucker is crafted from bourbon, VS cognac, Amaro and chocolate bitters, and is a sure winner if you’re feeling the effects of too much Super Bowling. If brown is not your thing, try the Goldenrod, made with Terroir gin, herbal liquor, chrysanthemum honey, lemon, absinthe and rosemary essence.

East Coast Alice

East Coast Alice is where you want to go for lunch on the weekends in Saratoga. Alice Walsh offers up a solid menu of authentically East Coast-inspired items like meatballs, steamed clams, grilled corn on the cob, lots of pastas (including puttanesca, carbonara, clams linguini, shrimp scampi and manicotti) and main dishes like chicken cacciatore, steak Delmonico, fish fry and everyone’s favorite, Eggplant Parmesan Casserole, made with ricotta cheese, egg, parsley, garlic, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Or go for the carb-and-dairy-rich Perogy Casserole, which combines noodles with mashed potatoes, sautéed onions, cheddar cheese, butter and nutmeg.

If sandwiches are more your thing, the egg and pepper is an East Coast classic, and don’t miss the eggplant parm if you like it rich and red. Craving a burger? You can’t go wrong with the patty melt and fries. Save room for dessert here, as Alice will tempt you with New York-style cheesecake and chocolate cannoli filled with whipped ricotta, pistachios, almonds, dark chocolate shavings and Luxardo cherries, which are the real deal.

Luxardos are said to have been produced at the Luxardo plant in Zara, Italy, since 1905. If you’re going to indulge, might as well partake of the real deal. If you want something slightly nutty, go for the Zeppoles, which are Italian-style doughnuts served with Nutella. The cocktail menu is filled with intrigue. Probably should go for the Saratoga Heat to fend off the mid-winter chill. It’s got Gruven Vodka, Cocchi Americano (a white-wine based aperitif, laden with secret herbs and spices), lime juice, Habanero and mint.

Café Dio

Cafe Dio, brainchild of the owners of Dio Deka and the café’s new General Manager, Kevan Smedt, invites you to check out its eclectic fare. Pretty much designed as a grab-and-go place, there is limited seating at a long table indoors.

A few tables are available outside, too, for those who prefer to linger over their caffeine and pastries. But it’s not all sweet stuff. The cafe also serves a personal pizza called Peinirli, available from 11am every day in three options: the Artemis (Greek meatball and pepperoni), the Zeus (chicken and caramelized onion) and the Hera (tomato and oregano). They’re made right across the street at Dio Deka.

Musician and cafe manager Smedt, whom many might recognize from his years at Great Bear Coffee as well as his frequent gigs at Dio Deka, tells us that this whole thing came about because he’s a pretty excellent guitar player. He ended up spending so much time playing at the mother ship, Dio Deka, that when the place across the street became available after Yarn Dogs moved on, he began planning his new career.

He’s super excited about all the items on the menu, all of which have been “teen-tested” by Palo Alto High students and received two thumbs up, which is even more than most posts get on Facebook. Café Dio is at 151 E. Main Street, across from Hotel Los Gatos and Dio Deka.

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