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COURTESY BLUE LINE PIZZADaly City’s Blue Line Pizza specializes in cornmeal crust pies.

Seasonal French cooking has arrived at Zola, a new bistro in Palo Alto. It’s the first restaurant for chef-owner and Palo Alto native Guillaume Bienaimé, formerly the chef at the Portola Kitchen in Portola Valley and the much-missed Marché in Menlo Park. It’s a tiny, very French atmosphere much like you’d find in Paris or Tours that avoids the cliches (accordion music and white tablecloths) in favor of clean turquoise colors, dim lighting and a very cozy feel. Menu headings add to the French theme with dishes separated by “pour commencer” and “plates de resistance.” Start with smoked salmon rilettes and steak tartare with shaved black truffle. Larger plates stay in the mid-$20 range, with a Basque-inspired piperade of roasted pork loin and pork belly or a Provençal flounder beurre blanc. A significant part of the menu focuses on vegetables and demonstrates California-French elements with the Parisian-inspired roasted mushrooms cooked Escargot-style or classic Californian end-of-summer tomatoes with pickled shallots, basil and feta. Of course, the wine list follows the balance, giving equal emphasis to France and California. The famed namesake French writer perhaps would love the gateaux aux amandes (almond cake) and chocolate mousse for dessert.

565 Bryant St., Palo Alto; (650) 521-0651. Zolapa.com

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