It is not often that I go to a restaurant that completely surprises me, in a very good way. I eat out a lot as evidenced in the fact that this blog has over 50 reviews collected from just the last 15 months and I havent even written about all of the ones I have been to in this period. I have sampled most cuisines and tried much of what they have to offer for vegetarians. Given all that, when a place truly blows me away, I am thrilled. My most recent such experience was at an organic Italian buffet in Campbell, CA called Tigelleria
.I was asked to choose a place for a weekday lunch and I wanted to go to a place I had never been to before. I was looking in the general vicinity of Los Gatos, Cupertino and Campbell where I could get an interesting meal relatively quickly. I randomly googled for restaurants in these areas and Tigelleria appeared in one such search. The premise of an organic Italian buffet was too good to pass and I suggested the place to my friend. He indicated that he had visited Tigelleria for dinner and would highly recommend it. So on a pleasant Tuesday afternoon, the two of us entered this relatively small place on East Campbell Ave on the fringe of Campbell, CA.
The restaurant itself is pretty small but very cozy looking at first glance. The buffet is set to one side with the bar behind it. Chairs are placed everywhere else- no more than 30 in total. Wine bottles are placed on the wall all over the restaurant giving it a unique feel. I was told that the bar converted to a mini movie screening area at dinner time featuring old Italian classics.
Their website shows an elaborate menu and the lunch buffet had some of the items listed on the menu. The total dishes on the buffet are limited and appeared to be carefully chosen. We ordered some iced tea and Italian sodas to drink. We made our way to the appetizer section which featured a bowl of nuts, a dish with cheese and halved strawberries, foccacia with onions, foccacia with green and red peppers and thinly sliced cucumbers with cut olives. Each of the items were fantastic and I could have finished my lunch with just the appetizers. Non-vegetarians have the option of a platter of imported cured meats and I was offered a plate of cheeses and honey instead. Each of the cheeses were a standout as was the honey.
For the main course, there was a nice salad with arugula and apples, a simple pasta, boiled peas and carrots and soup. The soup available that day was a split pea soup. Let me go on record here and state boldly that this is by far the best split pea soup I have ever had in my life. It was just spectacular. I just hope that if you read this review and decide to visit this place, that they offer you the same soup. It was that good.
For desserts, there was a phenomenal tiramisu with a delectably moist lady finger piece at the bottom, a fruit salad and biscotti. I finished up with a small pot of warm green tea. It was one of the most satisfying lunches I had at a restaurant in the recent past. It was completely new experience to me in a way that was profound. I have speaking about it to all and sundry since Tuesday and will probably do so until my next trip there. It was an experience to remember.
Ambiance: 9/10. It is a small and cozy place which is at once very warm and welcoming.
Service: 8.75/10. There was just one person to help everyone but she did a great job taking care of us.
Food: 9.5/10. As close to perfection that I have reviewed here. It was simply that good.
Price: 8/10. Good food doesnt come cheap. In this case, the buffet costs $20 per person. I would consider the food well worth the price but the price is definitely on the higher side for a regular workday lunch.
Overall: 9.5/10. I cant recommend this place enough. Just get there at your first opportunity. Just remember, there is NO weekend buffet.