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[whitespace] Space Odyssey

A New Year and new places to go

By Christina Waters

IT'S FINALLY 2001 and I'm determined to get used to it. We wrapped up the last year by eating our way through Florence, where we discovered the very hot dining spot Beccofino, a sleek wine bar with a killer restaurant overlooking the Arno. But meanwhile, in our neck of the woods--the Silver Creek Valley region to be exact--ace chef Rachel Spivack has gotten launched with her very own new restaurant. Spivac's (she removed the "k") is located in the east foothills at 5635 Silver Creek Valley Road. Spivack has cooked for Bay Area movers and shakers, including Silicon Valley CEOs and cultural forces like Karen and Walter Loewenstern, for the past 18 years. Finally, thanks to one of her clients, Ken Smith, she's got her very own restaurant, where she whips up what she calls "American contemporary cuisine with some attitude. He was a wine collector who loved my cooking and he wanted to give me a restaurant." Which investor Smith did, helping Spivack find the perfect place in the Canyon Creek Plaza. Spivack likes to run her crew of chefs (three of whom came from Spago) like a family. "This isn't about egos," she insists. "I'm just a little Jewish woman with big hips," she chuckles. A talented one, too, who has developed her new American menu based on "a core menu of the things that people love," like solid, can't-fail fare such as veal chops, steaks, rack of lamb. The new restaurant was designed by Dennis Buchner, who also designed San Francisco's celebrated Aqua. So far, Rachel's new restaurant has drawn a loyal following from her past clientele of South Bay celebrities, artists, inventors and media honchos. But her warm, open approach to dining feels like an open invitation to anyone looking for a delicious dish made with as much love as expertise. Spivac's would be your next food experience--call 408.528.1203 for reservations.

Pasta Pasta!

Gifted with an operatic name--Adriano Paganini--and armloads of entrepreneurial flair, the president of the wildly popular Pasta Pomodoro restaurant family has just expanded his empire (14 stores in the San Francisco Bay Area and plans for nine more this year) with yet another location. Last Friday, Pasta Pomodoro, an award-winning concept in quick, delicious, inexpensive Italianate carbo-loading, opened right here in San Jose. Open daily from 11 to 11, the 2000-square-foot pasta palace is located at 1205 The Alameda (408.292.9929) with a menu that includes minestrone, Caesar salad, grilled sandwiches, sensuous side dishes--but mostly pasta done with expert helpings of pomodoro sauce, garlic, seafoods, olives, capers, anchovies, parmesan, pine nuts, eggplant--you get the idea. The bowls of pasta run in the $6-$7 ballpark, and the trattoria ambience is a big part of the charm of this innovative chain. Check it out next time that craving strikes for rigatoni Bolognese. Remember to say "Grazie."

Wine Alert

Since I know that all Metro readers adore Zinfandel, I thought I'd remind you about the 10th Annual ZAP Tasting happening at Fort Mason Center on January 27. ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) hosts this evolving annual event devoted to showcasing some of the finest red wines made in the entire world. The event features 250 wineries, including our very own J. Lohr Winery. You need to get moving on this if you want to attend, so head for the website at www.zinfandel.org and find out all the viticultural details. Also, Bill Flynt, tasting room manager and major domo over at J. Lohr, reminds me that the winery's new tasting room entrance is still being revamped, so you'll need to side-step some dust and debris on your way to sample the 1998 Cypress Cabernet Sauvignon, among others orchestrated by winemaker Jeff Meier. J. Lohr Winery is tucked away in downtown San Jose at 1000 Lenzen Avenue, and open seven days, 10am-5pm (408.288.5057).

Email me! Readers restaurateurs, chefs: Please send any news items, tips, menu changes, openings, special events and juicy gossip to [email protected]

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From the January 18-24, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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