Spataro

3410

Who:

Jennifer Zuccaro, owner/vice president of Zuke’s Landscape, Inc.; Sandy Grandy, who handles quality assurance for disability claims; Lynn Matsuda, banking executive; Janice Thompson, who is responsible for leadership development at Raley’s.

Where: Spataro Restaurant and Bar, 1415 L St.; (916) 440-8888

Benefiting organizations: River Oak Center for Children; ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – Lou Gehrig’s Disease) Association Greater Sacramento Chapter

Best dishes: Fresh mozzarella, a star of the antipasto plate; house-cured sopressata (salami); spaghetti carbonara with cream, pancetta, egg and Parmesan; tagliata (grilled skirt steak with arugula, Parmesan, mushroom and lemon); polpettini (tiny meatballs on a creamy polenta base); vegetable panino of portobello mushroom, grilled red onion, roasted peppers and smoked mozzarella; ham and cheese panino, crispy but not greasy; perfectly cooked ricotta and spinach raviolini. Desserts? All of them, especially the panna cotta, which our experts called the best ever. I am still partial to the tangy, zippy lemon tart. Too many bests? So be it.

Ambiance: Warm, classy, nice and open. Tables not too close together. The right balance of modernity with a very comfortable feeling. Great natural light, sophisticated with clean lines and nice atmosphere, cosmopolitan. Pick any or all of the preceding and you have the Spataro brand of ambiance.

Surprise: Server Kemal Kurt, who came to the United States from Istanbul 13 years ago, carefully served the raviolini so we each would have an equal amount. Grandy noticed the Italian endearments he passed out as equally as the raviolini. Efficient, nonintrusive, observant, professional.

Chatter: Grandy could not discuss the ambiance because she was too busy enjoying the company. Said Thompson: “It’s very fun to share so many dishes . . . everything was excellent.” High praise from Diva Joan Leineke, who noted the food has improved since Spataro opened and gave the service an A-plus. Zuccaro, not a vegetarian but careful about her beef consumption, raved about the vegetable panino and would order it again and again. Matsuda observed: “I know that I am a Dining Diva, and my years of eating have been in preparation for this special event.” A couple of anonymous observations: Two guests had Victoria’s Secret lips. And “I’m too old to remodel” from a Diva in the midst of serious house changing.

1-SECOND REVIEW: Whether for a tasty in-and-out snack, a business or social lunch, or an anytime celebration, Spataro offers the right choice.

*The Dining Divas-Gloria Glyer, Paulette Bruce-Miller, Bernice Hagen, Joan Leineke, Gayla Mace and Peg Tomlinson-Poswall-have been wining and dining together since 1993. Each month, they lunch at an area restaurant, taking as their guests people who placed winning bids at charity events. To date, they have raised more than $200,000 for local charities and nonprofits.