Justin Perez is clearly one of the top ten chef's the SF Bay Area and California Central Coast. He has at long last opened another restaurant, in Santa Clara behind Santa Clara University. Not sure why he chose the location, since it's not near anything; but the space has been built out well, and the food is worth seeking out, which is made easier in the world of GPS in cars. I especially like the oversize four-top tables, since it provides four adults with enough room for all their plates, and makes it easier to share food.
A wide variety in the menu, which is the same for lunch and dinner. Lots of great appetizers, including several rolls. Excellent PEI mussels--about FOUR DOZEN--topped with really thin flash-fried potatoes, for only $13! Share the mussels, since there are so many that it's tough for one person to finish them while they're still warm. Salads, soups, sandwiches, burgers, wood-fired pizzas (crust is crispy like a cracker). Entrees--seafood, poultry, lamb, game. Justin's menu has it all, and everything I've had in my visits so far has been excellent.
Justin's has been open less than a month, so there are still service problems to iron out. Much of the staff seems inexperienced. Neither staff nor management seems to have a grasp of the layout of the wine storage yet, which is in a glass-encased room just behind the host station. Someone beside just the manager should have the key to get in, since it makes for too long a wait to get your bottle of wine.
By the glass wine selection is marginal, on tap, and served at what seems below 60 degrees, even the reds. The list should be expanded to reflect the large and varied food menu; but they are close to their storage capacity, at least up front. Prices are fair by the bottle and by the glass.
I've never had anything but a superb meal at Justin's previous restaurants--Buca (it could never be confused with that less than mediocre chain Buca Da Beppo) and Restaurant O--and I don't expect I'll ever have a bad meal at Justin's, either. I'm sure the level of service will be comparable to the excellent food soon.
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