On a rainy Wednesday night my wife and I visited Vesuvio Restaurant in Carmel-by-the-sea, as the village is known.
At 5;45 pm the place was full, something that rarely happens in the off-season (meaning this time of the year) in this little hamlet where trees are in the middle of the road, until recently it was illegal to have an ice cream parlor in town, and there are enough ordinances on the books to choke thousands of horses (example: 25 watt bulbs shall be as illumination for outdoor signage).
But I digress--this is the real deal in southern Italian and not that expensive. Rich Pepe, the founder, is originally from Hoboken NJ, and a member of his family was in high school with the Chairman of the Board (look that up for you youngsters out there). Many things on the menu are from the family treasure trove of recipes. Pastas are homemade, seafood from the docks in Monterey (Calamari is exquisite and highly recommended) So, if it is dark (see the light bulbs comment above). Highly recommended. And there's a rooftop lounge where most nights you can sit, eat, drink, and watch the stars (in the sky that is).
This really sounds like a great place to dine and relax. The "Chairman of the Board", sure left his "Mark", on places. Having been to some of his "Hangouts" in Chicago (The Ambassador Hotel), and Palm Springs (Melvyn's) and others, the stories are "Superhuman"!
Thanks for this information!
Jerry, for a real treat go to the Cal/Neva resort at Lake Tahoe on the state line. A tunnel goes underneath for special guests from CA to NV. The Vesuvio owner's grandfather fought his way through Italy in WWII as part of the Allied forces and brought back home recipes with him, including Pizza, which was a virtual unknown at that time in the US.
Did not know about this interesting place. Can you imagine what you could buy property for in this area in the late 40's? Now you know why so many stars decided to be paid in property (Rare coins was another choice of many!)! Randolph Scott comes to mind on property, but I am sure there were many more!
By the way, thanks for the information on Bonanza, try to watch it as much as I can. Lastly, just missed being able to watch "The Misfits" the other night, so appreciate the information on the movie/location as well.
Randolph Scott married a DuPont from Camden, SC. When they died, they left the large acreage that the steeplechase grounds are now on.
The steeplechase happens twice a year. March and October (it seems). The one in March is particularly a gala event with people showing off their new spring clothes and hats. Some wear old timey clothes from the turn of the century. People bring their baskets of food (some are actually catered and held in tents, complete with candelabras), some rent buggies that are horse drawn to bring them to the affair, and most have liquor of some kind and never see the horses.
Always interested in recommendations for good places to dine on the Peninsula (and always interested in anything you recommend !) A timeworn tradition for us is Gianni's on Lighthouse, but I am beyond bored with it (it was a good run...), and the kids are finally grown and gone (well, almost!) so it's time for some grown-up ambiance and cuisine. Have you ever dined at Pèppoli's in Pebble Beach (another Chef Pepe affair)? The dining room looks fantastic. Also thinking of trying the restaurant at Carmel Mission Ranch this weekend. The menu looks good. Too bad it's supposed to rain on Saturday. The patio looks enjoyable as well. We will be back at the end of April too, so lots of dining opportunities on the near horizon (yes! finally!).
Thanks for sharing, et bon appetit, or as the Italians say, "buon appetito!"
Pepolis is great and highly recommended. Have a drink at the bar around the corner if you can, watch the bagpiper at sunset (rain or shine). Spanish Bay is great always. Never cared that much for Gianni's but have been there for sport banquets for the kids lots of times. They loved the all you can drink soda fountain! Mission Ranch is fun too, especially the Piano Bar. Be sure to sing if the mile comes your way. I have mentioned it a lot but Terry's Lounge at the Cypress Inn is a must see place. Enjoy our little tiwns
Vesuvio's was fantastico! We dined on Saturday evening, having made reservations for 7:15pm. I don't know that it was necessary, as while the restaurant was full, there did not appear to be any guests waiting. The ambiance of the restaurant, situated on a corner, was terrific and the lighting perfectly subdued. I saw a lovely set of stairs, but did not reconcile them to the fact that there was a rooftop terrace! Our dining experience began with a basket of fresh baked bread, which tasted as good as it smelled, and had a wonderfully textured crust. We ordered Crab bisque, Veal Parmigiana and Spinach and Ricotta Canneloni, accompanied by a French white wine (just a personal preference). I have never tasted Crab Bisque and so was quite excited to try it. It smelled delicious, but other than the obvious ingredient of crab, I could not discern in the least what else the soup was made of, which says much more about me than the soup certainly. The bottom line: very yummy. The Canneloni was the best I've ever tasted. Light and fresh; a perfect balance between the cheese and fresh spinach. The Veal Parmigiana was also delicious. The combination of fresh herbs and tomatoes used in the sauce was well crafted and it was self evident that the best tomatoes and olive oils were utilized. There were tv's attached up high on the walls, which played videos of aerial shots of numerous Italian coastlines (bella!), none of which I had ever heard of, thus causing me to realize just how little of Italy I have seen or probably ever will see! The evening was topped off with the sharing of a dish of the creamiest Brulee and perfectly balanced coffee. As if we needed to eat even one more bite of food, the coffee was served with little demi biscotti's which were perfect in taste and texture and melted in the mouth. It was truly the best biscotti I have ever had, but honestly, that's not saying much. We must try Chef Pepe's bakery on our next visit at the end of April!
Steppingstones, thank you from the bottom of my heart (and tummy!) for recommending this little gastronomical gem. Great atmosphere, great menu, great food!
And Chef Pepe is running for - Mayor? The gentleman must not have the capacity to sit still for even a minute. Anyway, quite charming in every way!
Thanks. Did you meet Christian, Pepe's son? He is the proprietor and sometime bartender and a great kid to boot. All the staff are welcoming and I too love to watch Italy in HD. My only complaint is the that the music (60s and 70s rock) was a tad loud for my tastes, but the noice of my fork attacking the plate overcame that din. Did you get the Stepping Stones discount? Sure hope so.
Darn! I forgot to ask. Must remember to get that next time . But I agree with you that the price was reasonable and within reach (unlike Peppoli's - Secondis range from $35-$95). At Vesuvio the music wasn't of concern, but then we dined in the room to the left of the bar (looking in from the entrance). I believe I saw Christian behind the bar (recognized his face from the pepemag website - handsome kid - also enjoyed the article telling about him preparing to take the helm), but was too shy to approach him. I must admit to having a bit of an inferiority complex whenever visiting Carmel. I don't want to be just another tourist gushing over or bothering the gracious and understated but well-to-do locals. Perhaps I'll try an understated approach next opportunity. Seriously though, what does one do if one ever runs into Clint? "Hey Clint..." head nod, you know, like we know each other...Please tell me he's a God even among you Carmelo Seraphim types.
I really do love Carmel.
Now about Peppoli's...since we dined out two evenings (plus a late lunch on the Wharf on Sunday), we felt we couldn't afford it this trip (as I think Peppoli's costs about as much as 1.5 or 2 dining experiences at Vesuvio's), but might try it next month (must refill the coffers!). I wanted to drive by it to check it out, but opted against it, as I was stubborn about paying the $9.75 17 Mile Drive entrance fee just to do some Inn at Spanish Bay recon. The nice park employee did tell me however, that when we decide to dine there, that the restaurant will subtract the park entrance fee from the meal. We googled the Bagpipe player, and found a video on YouTube. Most impressive. Must get there!
Yes, you can avoid the PB entry fines by having a confirmed reservation at Peppoli's. If they do not agree at the gate Peppoli's can call them. Either way not paying the nearly ten bucks is worth the effort it takes. Or if you know anyone inside the area they can call you name in. Sometimes, depending on time of day (I assume you entered via the Highway one gate) and tiredness of the PB guard, you can pass through with a feeble excuse ("I am going to the Ocean" might work but don't hold me to that one)/ Spanish Bay is lovely and there's a Roy's there as well.
At Vesuvio, Christian is a great guy and very approachable. Glad you sat by the fireplace, that is quieter. Go upstairs on a starry night and be amazed at the view of the sky.