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“Great specials and a favorite spicy dish”
Review of Siena Bistro

Siena Bistro
Ranked #57 of 2,320 Restaurants in San Jose
Price range: $30 - $30
Cuisines: French
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: Minnesota Ave
Reviewed April 13, 2013

We have been to Siena Bistro several times now and although I am hooked on their Pasta Arrabiata, I get to go back because me wife consistently finds an excellent special. The Pasta Arrabiata is penne noodles in an "angry" sauce (Arrabiata=Angry) with enough sausage and mushrooms to make it a full meal. It's wonderfully spicy and you can get them to make it as hot as you'd want. My wife had a lamb shank last night that was as near to perfect as it could be. The savory sauce was a perfect compliment to the meat that was so tender as to fall off the bone. The crazy panted (or shorted) owner and his staff meld a lot of fun with just the right amount of respect to make you feel like a well known but honored guest. Siena Bistro will remain on our short list of places to eat regularly.

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1  Thank AndyP53
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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42 - 46 of 53 reviews

Reviewed January 21, 2013

Pros: Great food. Friendly service. Nice neighborhood vibe.
Cons: Tables are stacked together like seating 6 people in a 4 passenger car.

Suggestion: Try the patio. If you're inside, go with a group of 4 or 6 and sit away from the front door.

Star Ratings:
- Overall: 5
- Food Quality: 5
- Food Quantity: 5
- Dining Room Attractiveness: 4
- Menu: 5
- Service: 5
- Noise: 2 ( much hubbub on a busy evening )
- Price: 4
- Value: 5
- Parking: 5
- Restrooms: 3 ( outside the restaurant )
- Ambiance: 5

It's amazing. Until our visit to Siena, it took years for us to find an Italian restaurant near our home we could call "our own". With all the fans of Italian food in the San Jose area, where are the places which cause you to say "when can we come back"? The last time an Italian restaurant in the neighborhood made us feel that way was Mio Vicino in the spot now represented by Yuki Sushi. It's almost as bad as the lack of an East Coast deli. Why are there many good delis in LA and not in San Jose ( or even SF )? Another story for another day.

- Location: Siena can be a tad hard to find unless you know it's behind Le Boulangerie on Lincoln Avenue. However, that less-than-obvious location can work to your advantage since there are many spaces for cars. And it certainly helped Siena because they built a large outdoor patio up to the edge of the lot.

- Dining Room: Compact is a generous description. Bursting at the seams was our experience on a Saturday evening in January. Rectangular tables are spaced about a foot apart to accommodate as many patrons as possible. It helps to make friends with your neighbors because conversations tend to spill over. I wouldn't try to keep a secret at Siena. Fortunately, the patio's like an escape valve. Even at 7 PM in mid winter, the heat lamps were warm enough to keep at least 25 people eating in comfort. I'd certainly try it during the spring and summer.

One suggestion for Dave the owner: Try to find a slot for a table for 2 away from the entrance. I spotted only 3 such tables.....all between the door and walkway to the kitchen. Lots of commotion in a small space.

- Food: Great. Both my wife and I started with a Caesar salad. Her's was a small for $8 and mine a large for $11. Both had fresh lettuce, crispy croutons crisp, tasty shaved parmesan cheese and top notch home made dressing ( thick rather than watery ). My entree of Baked Eggplant Involtini was much better than the name suggests. It was 2 large patties of grilled eggplant rolled with angel hair pasta, ricotta cheese and marinara sauce baked with smoked mozarella cheese for $20. My wife the Dijon Crusted Salmon Filet baked on a cedar plank with mashed potatoes and vegetables for $27. We tried a bit of each and agreed they both were worthy of throwing a kiss to the kitchen...like they do in the movies.

There was no room for dessert. Besides the salads and entrees, we loaded up on bread. Two kinds are served..one a bit darker than the other...with whipped butter. It was good, but a bit light for our taste.

- Service: Excellent. Stephanie, our young server, was friendly, helpful and understood our initial misgivings about sitting in what seemed like the middle of the street. She maintained a nice pace, juggled her tables with much dexterity and kept smiling. She deserved ( and got ) a 20% tip.

- Management: I don't normally have a category for this, but Dave, the owner, not only walked around to most tables...he served many of the ones on the patio. We spoke for about 5 minutes and it was obvious he cares for his customers. I owned a dessert cafe for 4 years ( seems like ages ago ) and had a taste of the trials, tribulations and fun such a place can offer the staff and patrons.

- Menu: Interesting. Not so large you draw a blank at what to choose but large enough to offer many well chosen options.

- Wine List: Kind of like the food menu. Judicious and perceptive. I noted 5-7 reasonable choices in each of about 6 categories. Not overwhelming...especially for the occasional wine drinker. We had a bottle of La Crema chardonnay for $40. For us, it's an old standby which never disappoints...either at or away from home. Dave said it's the most popular wine on his list.

- Price and Value: Very fair. Our tab of $115, including tax, was on the mark. Quality and quantity were evenly matched with the menu prices.

- Parking: No problem. The best part is direct access to the entrance. Sometimes it pays to be located away from the main street with its congestion and limited parking.

- Restrooms: Both Men's and Women's are outside Siena. A communal arrangement with other businesses in the building? Perhaps not the best situation.

We finally have an Italian restaurant not far from home we can call our own. Let's hope it stays that way!

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1  Thank wisemoney
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 7, 2013

Great food, great service, cute little bistro with patio seating. Always consistent. Lot's to choose from on the menu. Great wine selection and desserts too!

2  Thank SiliconValleyCA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 11, 2012

Delicious, creative entrees. We enjoyed every bite. The service was very attentive and the ambiance was just perfect! We plan to visit with extended family next month because everyone loves this restaurant.

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2  Thank ace42
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 30, 2012

Actually, once you know that the entrance is in the back of the building, it is very convenient as you can park practically at the door. Even if you couldn't, it would be worth the walk, as it is a great little treasure. We have been going there for a few years since David bought it, and whenever we feel like dinner in Willow Glen, we head here. The service is good, and David always checks things out personally to make sure. We love the cheesy garlic bread, but need to remember to get the half portion, so we save room for desert. The Lemoncello Tiramisu is wonderfully refreshing. Great pastas, excellent and VERY fresh fish, and the scallop salad in the parmesan bowl is a delicious and creative starter. When the short ribs are on the menu they rank with the best we have ever had. The Fussili Prawns with Pesto is super tasty and the portion is big enough that some goes home with us (I admit, I have had it for breakfast!). David does some great special occasion dinners, and we have been there for New Year’s and Valentine’s Day this year. But any occasion can be special with good food and wine, and you will find both here. If the weather is good there is a large enclosed patio, heated in winter, but too hot last week for us - we stayed inside in air conditioned comfort. David just remodeled and there is now seating at the counter, and it looks much nicer than before. I think we will have to head back this weekend!

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Thank Imawino
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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