Page 80 - SLO Visitors Guide - Spring 2022
P. 80

Paso Robles
A taste of true Italian joy
Unmatchable cuisine at Buona Tavola’s good table
 Be sure to arrive at Buona
Tavola hungry and ready for an exquisite Italian cuisine experience! Whether in the mood for lunch, dinner or both with wine and des- sert, you are going to be tempted
by every item on the menu. From antipasti to dolci, the choices
are abundant. Not only will you experience authentic Italian cuisine, Chef-Owner Antonio Varia releases some of his favorite recipes on the website that you can cook at home!
Varia grew up in the moun- tainous lake region of Piemonte
in northern Italy where he was
his family’s designated cook—his mother having been ill—and had enjoyed the work so much that his father helped him take the next step to become a chef at various hotels in his area.
When Varia tells his story in
loosely flowing Italian accent, everything—the rich, delicious food, the superb service, the tucked
away little corner restaurant ambi- ance—mingles with his full-bodied voice to create that one-of-a-kind warmth that epitomizes Italian culture.
“I really enjoyed it, but my dream was always to come to the United States,” Varia says. In the ’80s, he took the helm of a
Princess Cruise ship’s
floating kitchen,
landing in Los
Angeles, where
he began
working for
a well-
known chef
in Beverly
Hills named
Tomasi. Four
years later,
Varia and his wife
decided to move to San
Luis Obispo, a town they
had visited over the years and liked. They bought a ranch and, in 1992, opened their first restaurant, Buona Tavola.
“Buona Tavola is a name mean- ing ‘good table,’” Varia translates— but the true meaning of the Italian phrase is not so simple. “In Italy,
at dinner with all of your family around you,” he explains, “before you say grace you say, ‘Ah, che bella
tavola!’ or ‘Che buona tavola!’— what a good table, full of friends, family and good food!” It is this sense of happiness and love that he conveys with the name and which he expresses by cooking food that he loves to make and to eat.
Understandably, his specialty is Northern Italian cuisine, which he explains has a lot of influence from Germany, Sweden and France. “It’s more ‘white,’” he says, referring to the creamy white sauces used in the pasta and gnocchi dishes of the re- gion, which rely heavily on cream, cheese and butter, as opposed to the spicier, olive-oil-laden, tomato and eggplant dishes of southern Italy.
In addition to the traditional gnocchi, which they make fresh every day, and the classic Piemonte pappardelle (wide ribbon pasta), and agnolotti (half-moon shaped ravioli) dishes, Varia also includes other styles of Italian cooking like the Timballo Valdostano, which
is similar to southern eggplant
parmigianoA. s Varia talks of his large family and his
hometown in Italy, there is a twinge of nostalgia in
his words. “I would not change my
life for any- thing else.
I’ve been traveling
lately in the United States,
and no other place is better than our
California Central Coast, I tell you!” he says, with that match- less wide, warm Italian smile. “I’ve
really been blessed. I do what I love to do: cooking!”
Buona Tavola is located at 943 Spring St., Paso Robles (805) 237- 0600 and at 1037 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo (805) 545-8000. Visit for hours and the menus for each location.
— Jamie Relth
       • APRIL •
Sat. April 9th, 11am- 2pm HOP to It - Visit the Easter Bunny & Get a Goodie
Downtown City Park Holiday House
Sat. April 23rd, 9am-3pm
The Vintage Rendezvous and Treasure Faire
Sidecars, Motorcycles and British Vintage Car Club Downtown City Park, Vendor Space Available, 238-4103
• MAY •
May 7-8th, 10am-5pm
Paso Robles Olive & Lavender Festival
Olive Oil Tasting, Artists, Crafters, Lavender Products & Wine Tasting! Downtown City Park, Vendor Space Available, 238-4103
May 8th
Olive/Lavender Farm Tour Events
Downtown Paso Robles
Stroll... Shop...Socialize...

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