After an afternoon visiting several wineries, we were fortunate enough to be guests at one of Paso Robles’ finest Italian restaurants, Il Cortile, with the reputation of garnering the best in local, sustainable ingredients into a feast for the eyes and a delight for the senses, while creating memories that will stand out in your culinary journey.
Chef and owner Santos MacDonal and his lovely wife Carole greeted us and gave us the background on the restaurant as well as their passion to create a space that embraces all the aspects of the Italian courtyard experience. They feature an experience that engages each person with the land, the people, and of course the social interaction of community all coming together to relax, eat, and enjoy each other’s company. We were made to feel right at home and ready to experience some of the best in local cuisine Paso Robles has to offer.
Before we indulged in what would become one of the best dining experiences we have had in the Central Coast we wanted to get to know the man behind all of the accolades. Santos MacDonal began his career in the highly acclaimed Italian Restaurant Giorgio Baldi in Malibu, California, mentored by Chef Giorgio Baldi himself. He has worked at many great restaurants in Los Angeles including Via Veneto, and Koi, and has served as executive chef at Bridge Restaurant and L’Angolo Cafe in Los Angeles.
Santos’ philosophy is simple and tasty: he strives to use the freshest ingredients, locally sourced whenever available, to create interesting and delicious dishes. He is constantly challenging himself to create new and tasty dishes that reflect what is available at any given time of the year.
Looking over the menu, we selected antipasti of grilled octopus and local razor clams to get started. Octopus and razor clams can be very difficult to cook, and often is a bit chewy, but the chef gave us the version that keeps the locals and visitors asking for seconds.
MacDonal was right on track when he brought out a savory beef short rib and his house specialty of homemade ravioli. We enjoyed even more bounty from the sea with perfectly prepared scallops delivered with precision by our ever-attentive server.
We had dined in many restaurants in many cities over the years and we are often hesitant to “follow the herd” and seek to find out for ourselves and readers what a particular dining venue is all about. In this case, Paso Robles has a very special restaurant downtown that has raised the culinary bar higher than ever before.
For an added bonus, Santos and Carole have just opened a hip mixology bar just a few blocks away and is also well worth a visit . Why not spend an evening visiting both venues when in downtown Paso Robles; you won’t be disappointed!
San Luis Obispo is really picking up its dining game and Foremost is brand new on the scene. Foremost is becoming one of The Most visited restaurants on the Central Coast.
Located in San Luis Obispo California this new venue is making a creative statement in the culinary world. Chef Julie Simon, a Parisian Native transplanted on the Central Coast received her tutelage from local Chefs Pandee Pearson and Meagan Loring, giving her the skills to move to the helm of Thomas Hill Organics where she created a large following through her ability to bring culinary magic to the area’s amazing bevy of fresh ingredients.
Now she has taken the helm of this new bright open space in the area known as the “Creamery “in this upbeat college townThe Creamery was once the site of dairy production but has been converted to quaint shops and small diners with its newest venture, Foremost. Proprieter, owner, and grower Rob Murray, is also at the helm of three Central Coast vineyards: Mossfire Ranch in San Miguel, Murmur Vineyards in Santa Maria and Tolliver Ranch Vineyard in Paso Robles also produces his own labels, Tooth and Nail and Force of Nature. Murray furthered his vision by creating a restaurant that brings together the best in wine, local sustainable ingredients, unusually innovated dishes with this newest addition to the Central Coast.
With open seating, and an organic flow of greenery and wooden staves, you may feel as though you are sitting in a large wine barrel, but the wine will be poured into a lovely glass by the capable hands of Sommelier Robin Puricelli. The wines for sale are extensive and eclectic featuring a good mixture of both old world, new world and of course, local. Wine director Robin Puricelli will make sure that your wine desires are met and with a menu that takes the guesswork out, as there are suggested menu pairings that will enhance your dining experience.
We spent some time enjoying a glass of Roderer sparkling at the large wine bar that also features many bottles for sell from French burgundies to local wineries such as a Clairborne and Churchill Pinot Noir. Puricelli has done her homework in is showcasing the best of local wine producers. Tonight Puricelli suggested a local wine a Kenneth Volk Malbec to pair with the many intriguing menu items that we sampled on our visit to the Central Coast.
As we started to move into our courses we knew we were in creative and capable hands of Chef Julie Simon. Chef believes in letting the ingredients shine through having a menu that is developed using seasonal produce, ensuring that the food offered is fresh, vibrant in taste, texture and flavor. The restaurant uses vegetables, fruit, and eggs grown at Canyon Fruit Ranch and their lamb is sourced from Adelaida Springs Ranch in Paso Robles. With careful thought in bringing the best ingredients combined with Chef’s artistianl flair, dinner is a healthy and pleasurable experience.
While visiting Foremost be sure to try the Free Range Organic – Egg. Poached and served over a Parsnip puree, and topped with a Brown Butter sauce. The eggs are sourced from a local ranch that brings fresh eggs daily from their Rhode Island Red hens. Chef then sous vides the eggs at 62 degrees for 2 hours for a perfect poach that when cut open oozes perfect yellow yolk over a creamy parsnip puree that when melded with the brown butter sauce is palate provoking.