Welcome to the 2nd restaurant review on Just One Cookbook (the first review here)! Before I get started on the review on Cetrella, I want to share a little story about Nami and me. Nami and I both appreciate good food but our favorite foods are actually very different. I love food so spicy that my tears come out when I am eating them and Nami cannot take any spice at all.
I also love greasy food that goes well with lots of beer while Nami does not drink. There are a ton of food and recipes that we both enjoy but we definitely have our preferences. One of Nami’s favorite ethic cuisines is Peruvian food and we don’t have too many great Peruvian restaurants close by where we live. A few months ago I saw a local daily deal for La Costanera (Peruvian restaurant) in Montara Beach and decided to purchase it to surprise Nami. When I surprised Nami with the deal, she suggested we go there for Father’s Day to celebrate. Unfortunately, when I tried to make reservations a few days prior they were all booked. We were really looking forward to a nice Father’s Day meal so I started to look for alternatives on Open Table and found several options. We finally decided on Cetrella for several reasons 1) it’s Michelin Recommended 2) it won Open Table’s 2010 Diner’s Choice Award 3) SF Gate (the local newspaper) had great things to say about it over the years and 4) I can’t seem to find a single bad review. Off we go to Half Moon Bay again.
The weather on Father’s Day was really amazing, even at 5:30 pm Half Moon Bay was still sunny and warm. The restaurant has been around 2001 but both its exterior and interior are extremely well kept. As you enter, the sun shines on the beautiful white walls through the sky light from the 25 foot tall ceiling, creating a warm and welcoming feeling. The restaurant interior is simple but pleasant, showcasing rustic furniture and exposed wooden beams with a modern elegance. Since we had an early reservation to accommodate our children’s dinner schedule, there were not many other patrons at the time and we were promptly seated at our table without having to wait.
For the meal, we had 3 adults (Nami, me, and my brother) and 2 children so we decided order Pizza Margherita for the children and 3 appetizers and 3 entrées to share between the adults. For the bread service, Cetrella served traditional warm foccacia bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Based on our server’s recommendation we ordered foccacia, fritto misto, and foie gras torchon as appetizers. The foccacia was very unique and the full name should be “focaccia al formaggio”, focaccia with cheese. It just so happened that two of Nami’s blogger friends also featured similar foccacia recently (Manu and Giulia) in their blogs. Giulia mentioned in her blog it’s very difficult to find outside of Recco, Italy so we definitely got a treat. The foccacia was very crispy yet still retains some moisture inside from the crescenza stracchino cheese, and the herbs and truffle oil blended perfectly with the tartness from the cheese.
Frito Misto was deep fried very well, no soggy spots and the panko layer was not overwhelming. What we really loved was the tartar dipping sauce. It had the perfect balance of cream and tanginess. The last appetizer was foie gras and it was my pick. Whenever I see foie gras on any menu I just have to order it. I love foie gras in every form, seared, poached, canned, jarred, and every other way. Needless to say the torchon was superb and paired very well with the lychee apple salad. The only slight complaint I have is I wished they had provided 4 pieces of bread instead of 2. We really had to pile on the torchon to make it all fit on 2 pieces.
For entrées we had the scallops, duck breast (I always prefer duck over chicken, more fatty), and bone in pork chop. The duck skin was crisp and the meat was slightly rare and very tender. The lemongrass risotto was very unique and you can taste the individual veggie as they were not overcooked.
As we finished the meal with panna cotta and chocolate trio, the restaurant was almost completely filled and I can understand why it’s so popular. We really enjoyed the Father’s Day meal at Cetrella and I look forward to going back there if we are in Half Moon Bay again. The meal did not have a lot of surprises but all the food were really well done and simply delicious.
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