Lounging tastefully at Piano Riviera (Santa Barbara Sentinel September 20 2014 issue)
Remember that ‘Fire-Tini’ cocktail at Element Lounge? That place was THE spot to go out for a fun cocktail evening. I know you all miss that place. I do too.
But don’t you be too sad, there is new kids on the block!! – Introducing newly revamped ‘Piano Riviera Lounge’ bringing Riviera Sassy back.
Well, this place had become my ‘headquater’. Every weekend, we meet at ‘Piano’. If you can’t get a hold of me, just come to ‘Piano’. I just like this place so much. I always have, even before it became ‘Piano Riviera Lounge’ and even more now. It just has too good of a feng shui to let go of. It is a truly magical spot.
First, it has this vibe that I imagined what Santa Barbara would be like. Chill in a bit sassy way. Everyone seems to have left their comfy ‘santa barbara outfits’ by their yoga mats for a night. (No offence on comfy outfits. Trust me. When my parents saw me after I moved to Santa Barbara, they wondered if I owned any single nice dress or even wash my hair.)
I see silhouettes. Okay I like it.
And the balcony! It overlooks a breathtaking view of the courthouse. It’s just a sickening view. Ocean views are great but this is just magical.
On saturdays, my favorite musical ensemble called ‘The Quartet’ plays and you’ve gotta check it out. Fabrice Allain, well known local DJ (aka Djfab-he also owns this amazing pure oil skincare line called Activaroma which I use everyday. Fab is so fabulous.) in the mix with super talented pianist/guitarist Dave Laflamme, and saxophonist Colin Richardson and beautiful vocal, Nina Led for a jam impro. When they played, ‘I love Paris’ with Djfab beats in the background, I had to have another sip of my cocktail. We needed a place like this. We missed it.
Every night, there will be a different local band playing. So check out their schedule.
Secondly, Chef Stephen Goularte. Oh boy, doesn’t he feel like you are welcomed here.
Such a big personality-he just makes you feel so welcomed and he surely will take care of you. I’ve been going there literally every weekend and everything I had was amazing.
This California-born chef went to culinary school at SBCC, got his training in classical french cuisine at Downeys(One of my favorite places, remember I wrote about it?), learned to be an entertainer playing with theme dinner working on a boat, learned how to run restaurants and marketing working at ‘Chase’, learned running ever-evolving night clubs working at Rocks and EOS, and studied riviera cuisine traveling the world.
“I absorb essence of riviera cuisine and combined with local flavor. It’s easy when you have fresh, seasonal ingredients to start with.” a big Luciano Pavarotti smile on his face. How can you say no to this face.
Where to begin on his food.
Britannia salad is one of my many favorites – butter lettuce, tomato, avocado, mommas vinaigrette(DJ Fab’s mom’s recipe). Try with grilled shrimps.
Arugula salad-peppery arugula, shaved fennel, lemon and extra virgin olive oil, shave parmesan-I had it with grilled skirt steak. Yea.
Burrata small plate is party on a plate with arugula, heirloom tomato, aged balsamic and heavenly Burrata.
Make sure you have Chef Stephen’s famous Lasagna. The sauce is made with love and cooked many hours to make your eyes roll back.
One evenings of many I have been, was a ‘Branzino night’ – Roasted branzino with lemon caper sauce. Simple and so tasty. Try with sauteed spinach. Now that’s what I call a dang good meal right there.
Usually I don’t eat truffle pizza other than olio limone pizzeria’s black truffle pizza, but chef Stephen’s one is very different and equally delicious. It’s light, thin, perfect with arugula on top. It’s so light, I can eat the entire thing in one sitting. Even the crust and all!
Their cocktails are delicious. It’ soju based so it’s way more smoother than regular cocktails. My favorite is Rosemary, mint and blackberry cocktail and lavender lemon drop! So refreshing.
I love the fact that their food is not overly salted, seasoned or dressed. It’s like someone cooking at their home. Refreshing, simple and clean.
Sitting here for happy hour listening to musicians’ impro overlooking gorgeous courthouse, I feel very luck to live in this town. It doesn’t get more santa barbara than this. This is what i imagine Santa Barbara would be.
Get informed about their exciting daily events-like paella night, all you can eat mussels night, bouillabaisse night, stand up comedy night and Sunday endless minosa-reggae brunch.
Ladies, grab your silhouettes and meet me tonight 7:30pm at Piano Riviera Lounge. Let’s recreate that Santa barbara spot where we all can be Carrie Bradshaw, Charlotte York, Miranda Hobbes and Samantha Jones and enjoy and appreciate what we have for a night. Good friends, music, food, cocktails and gorgeous Santa barbara evening. Ok we are pretty damn lucky.
Piano Riviera Lounge
129 E Anapamu Street
Check out their facebook for upcoming daily events.