Tidbits | April 11, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - April 11, 2014


by Elena Kadvany

ZIBIBBO SHUTTERS ... Longtime Palo Alto restaurant Zibibbo has shuttered after 17 years, owner Rowena Wu confirmed Wednesday.

"Zibibbo has closed for good," she said, refusing to comment further. Jose Sandoval, a San Jose resident who's been a cook at the restaurant for five years, said he was told last Friday that the restaurant was closing. He said the restaurant filled 80 reservations that night and had 85 more on Saturday, but those were canceled. The upscale Mediterranean restaurant, housed in a 12,000-square-foot yellow Victorian house at 430 Kipling St., opened in 1997. The huge space, with several dining rooms, actually spans from Kipling to Waverley Street another block over. Zibibbo is the name of a grape used in Italy's regional dessert wines. A Weekly review from the year it opened hailed the restaurant as setting a "new standard for dining in downtown Palo Alto." It mentioned plates like dried fruit and Swiss chard fritters, fresh seafood platters, pork tenderloin, sand dabs, half ears of corn with red pepper butter served standing upright, "grilled husks and all." A June 2010 review revisiting the restaurant noted that Zibibbo had won the Wine Spectator magazine's prestigious Best of Award of Excellence, the second of three tiers offered by the magazine that is bestowed on restaurants with wine lists that offer 400 or more selections, "along with superior presentation, and display either vintage depth, with several vertical offerings of top wines, or excellent breadth across several wine regions," the magazine's website says. The Palo Alto restaurant was the sister restaurant to Wu's Restaurant LuLu in San Francisco, which is still open.

ALL HAIL PIZZERIA DELFINA ... San Francisco's beloved Pizzeria Delfina will be opening its Palo Alto doors this Sunday, April 13, in the former Empire Tap Room space at 651 Emerson St. The first week or so will be lunch only, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The menu changes daily, but expect to see antipasti like fresh-stretched mozzarella and Belfiore buratta with arugula, crostini and olive oil; Monterrey Bay sardines; veggies like spicy cauliflower with garlic, capers, breadcrumbs and Calabrian chiles; fried spring onions with aioli. The pies are the same as the pizza empire's other three locations (two pizzerias in San Francisco and one in Burlingame) — fans might recognize the panna (tomato sauce, cream, basil and shaved parmigiano) or the salsiccia (housemade fennel sausage, tomato, bell peppers, onions and mozzarella). Other dishes include meatballs, mussels and pastas. Dessert comes in the form of housemade gelato, either by itself, as an affogato, in a cone, sandwiched between brioche buns or in an amarena cherry sundae. The company's head bartender, Alex Phillips, has put together a craft cocktail menu with about seven drinks, mostly variations on Italian standards, such as the Negroni (gin, vermouth and bitters, traditionally Campari). The wine list offers about 25 to 30 options with both Italian and California wines, an expansion from other Delfina locations. Owner Craig Stoll said everything — the food, wine, cocktails — is based on the Delfina vision: recreating Italy through the refractory lens of the Bay Area. Locals might not recognize the revamped Empire Tap Room space — dark wood has been replaced with light, plus one white and one bright blue-tiled wall — but underneath blue seat cushions at some of the indoor tables is hiding wood, re-purposed from the Palo Alto mainstay's bar tops.