Everyone we talked to in the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara said that visiting S.Y. Kitchen was a must. We heard so many great reviews and it definitely lived up to our expectations. The Four Seasons Biltmore even suggested that it is to Santa Ynez Valley what Cindy Pawlcyn’s Mustards is to Napa.
Chef Luca Crustinilli and his brother, sous chef, are both from Verona, Italy. This shows through their delicious simple and local cooking. Italian cooking is extremely regional. The food in Napoli by the sea is very different from the food in is served inland. During our culinary experience with Mamma Agata, we learned that even little things, down to the cheese is regional. Crustinelli brings this Italian method of sourcing his ingredients from local farmers and purveyors.
S.Y. Kitchen has continued this Italian influence in its cocktail program. Mixologist Alberto Battaglini (not pictured), also from Verona, heads the bar. When you want a break from wine tasting, this is the place to go. Their menu is extensive, and they now have a new Apertivo program that runs through Monday-Thursday. Clayton loves Manhattans, and was intrigued by their custom-made Manhattan menu. You choose your whisky, vermouth, and style.
We ended up choosing from the Valley Collection and decided on an S.K. Julep made with Cynar and a Selle Français, made with bison grass infused vodka. We also tried their Pineapple and Basil Margarita that was to die for. S.Y. Kitchen was kind enough to share the recipe here. It was a perfectly refreshing start to a delicious dinner, along with the olive tapenade.
We started our dinner with baked artichokes and a warm octopus salad. Both were flavorful and fun to share! The octopus was tender and delicious. We loved the warm, rustic vibe of the restaurant as well. Their custom ceramics were really unique. We found ones that reminded us of them here, here, here, here, and here.
We wanted to try their fresh house-made pasta, so we tried the wild mushroom pappardelle. This would be a perfect choice with a glass of wine! We initially thought it might be heavy but it was surprisingly light and delicious.
Since there’s a wood fired oven outside, we had to try a pizza. We choose the Romana wood fired pizza with olives, buffalo mozzarella, Grana Padano, oregano, and anchovies. The pizza had a great crust and made us wish we had a pizza oven at home.
We finished with one of the specials, a delicious stone fruit salad with celery root. Crestanelli is quoted at the end of the menus saying, “My job is to find the right ingredients and not to ruin them.” We think that he has succeeded.
GET RECIPE: S.Y. Kitchen Pineapple and Basil Margarita