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At Vino, it’s not unusual to watch owner Castro Ascarrunz dash from the kitchen to the dining room, then to the piano to play a few tunes. Ascarrunz is a one-man show: He likes to say he’s the owner, head server, and house entertainer. All that might sound a bit gimmicky, but for those who have experienced a meal at Vino, Ascarrunz is both genuine and charming. Also charming is his food, an eclectic mix of delicious small plates influenced by Basque, Italian, and California cuisines. Our favorite dishes include a simple potato salad with hot red chili and black olives, Basque-style beef meatballs in paprika sauce, and sweet summer melon draped with salty prosciutto. Everything is made in-house and prepared without excess fat or butter. On our visit, desserts included tiramisu, a dish that is often overworked but, in Ascarrunz’s hands, was a wonderfully simple, pure expression of chocolate, liquor-soaked ladyfingers, and cream. Reservations strongly recommended. Dinner Tues.–Sat.
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