Sante Ristorante

$25 - $50 Recommended Editor's Pick

The Buonsante name has been synonymous with traditional Italian cuisine in La Jolla since 1988. Located on Herschel in picturesque downtown La Jolla, Sante serves classic Italian fare in a setting that is warm and welcoming. Amidst terracotta-colored walls, functional fireplaces, and starched tablecloths, you will notice that Sante Ristorante is a step above the rest. Try the Ossobucco, which melts like butter, or the creative and savory Lemon Fettuccini. When it comes to cuisine, the Buonsantes believe that tradition has been around for a long time for one reason-because it works.

Sante Ristorante: A Staple in Italian Cuisine

The Buonsante name has been a staple for traditional Italian cuisine in La Jolla since 1988.  Tony Buonsante, originally from Mola di Bari, Italy, started working his way up the restaurateur ranks in New York City.  Twenty-two years ago, Tony left his successful restaurant in New York and moved west to establish Sante Ristorante.  Now Tony, the visionary, runs the business with his gregarious son, John Buonsante, who adds personality and pizzazz to the place.

The restaurant is located on Herschel, at the corner of Silverado, in picturesque downtown La Jolla.  The restaurant effuses a Tuscan ambiance with warm terracotta walls, cheery Italian music and Venetian glass lighting fixtures.  Brick walls, wooden beams, and working fireplaces give the restaurant a welcoming, old-world feel.  But that’s not to say it feels old-far from it.  The Buonsantes have completely revamped the restaurant in the last couple years, creating a space that matches modern desires with traditional style.

We saw mostly couples enjoying the romantic ambiance the night we were there, but Sante would also make a great location for a family dinner, a professional business meeting, or a large celebration. Diners were generally dressed for a nice evening out.

When it comes to cuisine, the Buonsantes believe that tradition has been around for a long time for one reason-because it works.  Their classic menu includes many Italian staples and focuses special attention on seafood dishes.  John mentioned that whenever they remove a menu item, regulars request those dishes.  Just as he tells them, if you don’t see your favorite on the menu, don’t fret, Sante will make anything to order.

The celebrity photos lining the walls of the full bar showed that even Clint Eastwood and Richard Gere have stopped by for some traditional Italian eats.

Knowing any good Italian meal is incomplete without wine, we reviewed the extensive wine list. While it specializes in Italian wines, it also features California selections.  In addition, Sante has been awarded Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence several times.

Tucked throughout the restaurant are a number of various rooms and patios that would be great for many different kinds and sizes of special events.  The main dining room is bright and spacious, fitting up to 65 guests.  If you’re looking for something, The open and festive back patio is great for 16-30 guests with a fountain, heaters, and lots of natural light.  The front patio, although less private, does provide more outdoor room, appropriate for up to 30 people.  For a more intimate gathering, try the wine room, which is warmly decorated and fits 16 diners.  To increase the size and make a more interesting, multi-functional space, consider opening the wine room out onto the patio.

Deciding it was about time to settle in and start enjoying some cuisine, we started with Carciofi Fritti: six fried artichokes served with a blue cheese sauce.  Expecting a crunchy bite, I was instead met with a soft, light breading surrounding artichokes that simply melted in my mouth.  The blue cheese dip was a strong, potent contrast to the fried artichokes and was served whipped.

The waiter brought us a selection of homemade focaccia and olive rosemary bread.  To dip, we were delighted to try the olive oil infused with sun-dried tomatoes as well as their vegetarian spread, which was a blend of carrots and bell peppers.  The olive bread was served straight from the oven and was soft on the inside with a crunchy, crispy crust.  The warm focaccia’s flavors popped with the tasty olive oil, and the vegetarian spread, a warm orange color, was deliciously sweet and reminiscent of hummus.

The smell of the Cape Sante, fresh sea scallops sautéed in garlic and served with a wine sauce, arrived to the table before the plate.  The browned scallops were stacked on small slices of bread, topped with chives, and surrounded by a deliciously rich sauce.  The simplicity of the scallops was expertly countered by the richness of the wine sauce.

Moving on to our primi piatti, or first courses, we had to try one of the specialties of the house, the Lemon Fettuccini. You won’t find it on their dinner menu, but you’ll find it every night on their list of specials.  This is one of those dishes upon seeing the celebrity ingredients you know that it’s going to be a blockbuster.  The fettuccini was made fresh at the restaurant and prepared with prosciutto, pancetta, basil, and parmesan in a lemon sauce.  I was first delighted by the large shavings of parmesan and super-thin slices of prosciutto lovingly layered atop the pasta. The fettucini was thick, fresh, and almost tasted of the time and effort put into its preparation.  Having never experienced a lemon pasta dish I was a bit apprehensive, but it was quite a hit! The pasta was cooked al dente and the creamy lemon sauce was both light and rich, with all the excellent ingredients successfully working together to win over my taste buds.

Thinking the Lemon Futtuccini could not be topped, we were proved wrong by the Agnolotti d’Astice, or fresh Maine lobster-filled ravioli in a sherry, tomato and shrimp sauce.  The pasta was homemade and thick, making the ravioli itself just as big a part of the dish as the lobster filling, which was generous, with large, tender pieces of sweet meat.  The sweet sherry sauce added such a luscious smell and flavor.

With our ravioli we enjoyed a Gavi, from the Piedmont region of Italy, a white wine primarily made from the Cortese grape.  A wonderful compliment to our lobster, this straw-colored 2006 Araldina Batasiolo was fruity, dry, and had a neutral, mild aroma.

The Ippoglosso alla Siciliana, a steaming Alaskan halibut topped with a caper olive tomato sauce, genuinely made me feel like I was back in Palermo, enjoying fresh seafood on the Mediterranean coast.  The halibut was expertly cooked, well salted, and the strong capers and olives enhanced its flavors.  The addition of the fresh carrots, squash, and zucchini to the sauce made this a classic, fresh dish.

To compliment our halibut, John sent a 2005 Badiola from the Castello di Fonterutoli, a family-run estate that has been perfecting its viticulture for six centuries.  The Badiola was a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet and Merlot, and while I was surprised to be served a red wine with fish, it was an excellent addition, full-bodied yet never over-powering.

Wanting to take our experience up a notch, they served us their famous Ossobucco, complete with bone and marrow, with Pappardelle pasta served on the side.  The Ossobucco, the chef’s specialty, literally fell off the bone into a pillow of mouth-watering, delicious meat.  The freshness of the Pappardelle, lovely sheets of thin long pasta, was only topped by the freshness of the sauce of purred tomato, celery, and other vegetables as well as crunchy garlic and lemon zest.  We reached the marrow inside the bone with a tiny marrow fork and surprisingly tasted all the deliciousness of the Ossobucco, only amplified by ten!  Tony Buonsante assured us of the health benefits of the marrow, which include being a good source of vitamins, and also, he said with a wink of his eye, its potency as an aphrodisiac.

The 2006 Barbera d’Alba Souvrana wine that accompanied our Ossobucco was also from Piedmont, and tasted exceptional with its rich, fruity flavors.  The fruitiness bounced remarkably well off the rich, earthy flavors of the meat.

Sensing we couldn’t manage even one more bite of savory cuisine, the kitchen sent out two desserts to complete our meal.  First was the Coffee Mousse: two cushions of bronzed mousse topped with a coffee bean resting beside a beautiful sauce of mascarpone etched into which were delicate chocolate hearts.  The mousse was light, a great choice after a heavy meal.  Next we were served a classic Tiramisu, a tower of layered espresso-dipped cake and mascarpone, all topped with cocoa powder.  The dish was garnished with a dollop of whipped cream with walnuts and raspberries on top.  The tiramisu was cool and airy and it simply melted away in my mouth.

Finally, they offered samples of a couple of their liquors and digestives.  We started with a Nocello Liqueur, which was walnut flavored, warm, and powerful. Understanding the mass quantity of delicious, hearty food we had consumed, John Buonsante then recommended the Fernet Branca, a potent mint-flavored digestive, which, after consumed, magically made me feel as if I had eaten only a simple dinner salad.

If you’re in the mood to get back to Italian roots, to enjoy a romantic dinner, or just to eat a fine meal, Sante is a great choice. Overall, the traditional recipes, the quality of ingredients and the expertise of preparation make Sante a winner in Italian cuisine.

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  Restaurant Info

  • 7811 Herschel Avenue
    La Jolla CA 92037
  • Address: 7811 Herschel Avenue, La Jolla CA 92037
  • Cross Street: Silverado Street
  • Location: La Jolla & UTC | La Jolla Village
  • Cuisine: Italian |
  • Cost: $$ | Inexpensive | $25 - $50
  • Category: Fine Dining
  • Star Rating:
  • Reservations: Available
  • Dress Code: Casual Elegant
  • Meals Served: Lunch | Dinner |
  • Parking: Street |
  • Payment Options: VISA | Amex | MasterCard | Discover | Diners Club |
  • Corkage Fee: 12.00 | Per Each Bottle
  • Staff: John Buonsante | General Manager
    Tony Buonsante | Sommelier
    Tony Buonsante | Matre D'
  • Phone: 858.454.1315
  • Features: Full Bar, Outdoor Seating, Private Room, Winning Wine List, Working Fireplace, Wheelchair Access, Personal Wines Allowed, Lounge / Bar,
  • Occasion: Child Friendly, Romantic Dining, Business Dining, Quiet Conversation, Special Occasion,

  Photos

  Business Hours

Reservations Available


Monday
Main Dining Room | Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.|  
Main Dining Room | Dinner 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.|  
Tuesday
Main Dining Room | Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.|  
Main Dining Room | Dinner 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.|  
Wednesday
Main Dining Room | Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.|  
Main Dining Room | Dinner 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.|  
Thursday
Main Dining Room | Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.|  
Main Dining Room | Dinner 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.|  
Friday
Main Dining Room | Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.|  
Main Dining Room | Dinner 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.|  
Saturday
Main Dining Room | Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.|  
Main Dining Room | Dinner 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.|  
Sunday
Main Dining Room | Dinner 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.|  

  F.A.Q.s

Frequently Asked Questions
You have your choice of two sidewalk terraces, a courtyard, a formal dining room and a bar area with a fireplace and piano music.
Yes, Sante has a working fireplace in the dining room.

 Menus

Lunch Menu

Zuppa e Antipasti

Insalate

Crespelle/Fritatta

Panini

Primi Piatti

Pesci e Carni

Dinner Menu

Zuppa e Antipasti

INSALATE

Primi Piatti

Pesci e Carne

Contorni


 User Reviews

Can't wait to go back again!  

We came here, on our one year aniversary, it was great. The food was amazing! and the dessert...even better! Its a great atmosphere, not too loud, but still able to have a conversation without feeling like your yelling in silence. They had a piano player that night, and it was excellent background. The lighting and seating is great as well, although it did get a little chilly every now and then. Service is great, they give you enough time to look at what you want, and you don't feel rushed at all durning or after your meal. There isn't a whole lot to complain about, they were not rude or pushy in anyway. It is a little more on the expensive side, but you get what you pay for. We've been back twice since our first time there, and love it every time! would recommend the four cheese gnocchi, its so good! but is very very filling! as a salad the Avacado salad is wonderful, it has a nice dressing and avacado and little mozzarella balls. And dessert the tiramisu is some of the best tiramisu ive ever had, takes me right back to Italy! LOVE IT! you wont be disappointed if you try this place!

Great exprience  

Visiting from South Dakota, this was one of the best dining experiences my wife and I have ever had. Schedule reservation on-line, Manager knew our reservation by name and seated use himself. Food was amazing. The Carpaccio di Bue was an interesting dish, which We had never had before. It was a little over priced for what we got. The combination of flavors in the Pollo Scarpariello was Great (Chicken breast with sausage, mushrooms, garlic, and rosemary). The Agnolotti d'Astice was surprisingly sweet with great aftertaste (Ravioli filled with Fresh Maine Lobster, sherry, tomato schrimp sauce) The Bread served with olive oil and vegetable spread was very good, two helpings of the bread. Dessert was great, we had a cannoli scallopini. The service during the meal was prompt and very attentive. We would highly recommend Sante Ristorante.

Excellent food and great service  

I've been to Sante Ristorante 3 times in the last 3 years and every time the food and service was excellent. The atmosphere is very pleasant and patio seating are recommended. The food is outstanding. They have a large selection of specials. For the appetizer, we tried the fried calamari which was very good and Osso Bucco (special) was one of the best I ever had.

Marvelous Italian food in a romantic setting.  

My husband and I celebrated our first anniversary here. They provided us with a table for two, a nice view by the window, and candlelight--very romantic! The wine selection was great, every dish was impeccable and filled with flavor (I relished the pasta with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes), and the service couldn't have been better. I 100% recommend this restaurant for a nice evening out--I will be back!

An awe inspiring experience...  

When my fiancee' and I showed up we where greeted with a warm welcome. The ambiance made the atmosphere supremely eligant. I felt like I was inthe best restaurant, and the staff acted like they where the best. The service was fast and gave my fiancee' excelent service. They even went over the menu in detail to her satisfaction. The food was amazing. I have never tasted a better steak in my life. Although the staff was amazing and the food was second to none; I was truely blown away when the owner stoped by and greeted us. He was the most curtious man ever and kindly took my fiancee's plate after seeing she was finished. We asked him to take a picture with him and he gladly granted our request. I have never in my life met a more humble man. He is a picture of true wealth and prestige. This valentines day was amazing thanks to the owner and staff of Sante Ristorante and I will be telling everyone I know that this is the place to go if you truly want top quality and service.

Sante Ristorante  

What a wonderful and elegant place. My husband and I went there for our 25th anniversary. We arrived a little before the restaurant opened, but they sat us anyway and we got to see some of the friendly banter that passed between the employees. They were polite and friendly through the whole experience and made you feel like it was their absolute pleasure you were there. The food was expensive, but really good! My husband and I agreed that it was more than what it looked as I had to take some home. Every dish was so beautiful it was hard to take the first bite. I had the veal ravioli with mushrooms and it was soooo good! We are not used to going to such nice restaurants and usually avoid them because we feel out of place. I think we could have walked in in jeans and t-shirts and they would still have made us feel comfortable! Thank you to all the staff who were there on December 27th, 2007 at 5:30 (our reservations were at 6PM.) You made an impression and we will reccommend you to everyone and plan to return ourselves! Thank you! Donald and Stephany Brown

Fantastic Dining Experience  

Both word of mouth and sandiegorestaurants.com confirmed that "Sante" was one of the best experiences I've had in San Diego in quite some time. The food was excellent, service was attentive but not over bearing and the atmosphere was great. Tucked away a bit off the beaten path of Prospect Ave, if you are looking for a truly fine dining experience then Sante is a best bet.

Always a wonderful evening.  

This is one of the first restaurants my wife and I found when we started dating. It's a quaint place, just off of Prospect, far enough away grab a good parking spot, but still in the thicke of things. Service here is great, we were greeted immediately and seated within a minute. The staff was polite and didn't hover too much. The wine reccomendations were wonderful, and paired nicely with our meals. Contrary to the online sample menu, they were are no longer serving the Quail Stuffed Ravioli (my personal favorite here). But the chicken I ended up with was fantastic! My wife had the Yellow(something) fish special, which was also delicious. There were a few snags due to a very needy group seated near us, but nothing that would diminish my view of this establishment.

Our new favorite place!  

There are two rooms to choose from, and we sat next to the fireplace on the left side (the right side has nice music). The ambience was perfect: not too uptight, yet still comfortably romantic. The Lobster spaghetti was delicious and the lobster portion was more than generous. (It was a special for New Year's weekend, but they were thinking about it being on the menu for a while). The salads were exceptional, and the wine list was diverse, from affordable to special occasion prices. The owner's son took the time to talk to us, even on a busy Saturday night, and was genuinely concerned about our experience. My wife and I have decided that this is our new favorite restaurant.

Blessed on Thanksgiving  

My wife and I visiting from Kona, Hawaii chose Sante through the SanDiego Restaurants.com guide read the reviews and let me tell you if there was a 7 star it should be 10. Our experince was incredible we had a party of 5 for Thanksgiving Started with picking different types of salads they where delicious my Mother in-law loved her spagatti dish, was the best she ever had, then our son and his girlfriend kept saying how each dish was so tasty especially the traditional thanksgiving dinner they also provided, and the incredible signature dish " Oh MY " heavenly, we also had the filet migon' with shruffle's, for my wife the wonderful desserts, and the service was excellent, and as your Governator says " I'LL BE BAAK"

A hidden gem  

Sante is one of my wife and I's favorite new restaurants. You can easily spend money there but it is worth it plus it is a lot mor affordable then some of those other La Jolla places. We have both tried different course while there and have enjoyed each one. The fillet was on of my favorites...as well as the gnocchi. It has a great romantic feel and many friendly faces.

Small but jammed packed with flavor  

The place was small and it appears they try and fill every inch with tables. But other then that, Sante Ristorante is in our top list of best Italian Restaurants. Starting from the hostess to the waiter everyone was very kind and knew how to take care of the customers. Can wait till we are able to go back.

Exactly what I was looking for  

I love Italian cuisine and wine. I've enjoyed many of San Diego's finest Italian restaurants but I've finally found one that does not disappoint me in any way. The authentic dishes and outstanding selection of mature wines met my expectations completely. Our server was attentive without hovering, confident but not arrogant. We left Sante feeling satisfied on every level. Thank you and we'll be back soon.

Bennisimo!!!  

Everything about my experience was wonderful, a friendly greeting by John, a beautiful,romantic table by the fire, a perfect pairing of wine and food by our personable server. My date and I enjoyed a perfect evening, the only thing that outshined the service and romantic ambiance was the truly authentic Italian Cuisine. I highly recommend this restauruant!!!

Couldn't be better  

From start to delicious ending the entire night was amazing. The food was fabulous and the wine was one of the best Italians we have had in a long time. We will see you again soon.

A Fantastic Evening  

I planned this evening to be a romantic night for my wife and me. It was to be very special as I presented my wife of 16 years a new (bigger diamonds) engagement ring. John from Sante took care of all of my special requests, from red roses on the table, to a single white rose and sparkling cider delivered with dessert. My wife and I were seated in a very romantic setting next to the fireplace. The food was fantastic and the ambience created a memory that will last a lifetime. I found Sante to be a hidden gem. I highly recommend this restaurant.

Outstanding!!!  

This is a nice, quiet, intimate restaurant. The atmosphere is very romantic. The food was amazing, especailly the Tortelli Antonio (that was outstanding). Great service, outstanding food, what more can you ask for?

Anniversary  

Excellent location for a quiet romantic dinner. The service was attentive but not over bearing. The knowledge level of the watiress and hostess was outstanding regarding wine selections as well as recommwending a selection of courses the complimented each other. The food was among the best I have had in San Diego. I recommend choosing from the chef's selections especially if something sounds very different. I am sure you will find it unique, delicious and memorable.

Great Atmosphere and Food  

We made reservations late and online. When we arrived they where overbooked and only had a few tables. The owners found us a table and where very nice and gratecous to us. The atmosphere is great and the food was wonderful. And is very very nice for a romantic night out.

Best place you probably didn't know about  

This place was great. Excellent service and better food. It's a little off the beaten track so it's very private. The manager John is very courteous. He made our dining experience a pleasure. Definitely one of the best restaurants in San Diego. It's already my girlfriend's favorite.

Great Night  

I typically don't eat at fine restaurants, even though I could afford to eat at them much more often. I don't find them worth the price except for rare special occasions. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed my time at Sante. The service was exceptional, both very professional and very friendly. Tony and his son take it upon themselves to make you feel welcome. The food is excellent, both in its presentation and in its quality.

Hidden treasure  

I cannot believe how perfect this restaurant is! The food is good and very reasonably priced, the atmosphere is enjoyable, and the service was attentive. We will definitely be repeat customers.

What a gem!  

Terrific restaurant. It's a little off the beaten path in La Jolla, but the courtyard setting is lovely. The staff was friendly, gracious and accomodating - willing to make changes to the menu items to suit us. The food was wonderful. We'll be back on our next visit to San Diego.

excellent  

this restaurant is one of the best ones that i have been to in la jolla. the service is excellent the atmosphere is better....the music....candle lit and quiet. it couldnt get better

Exceeding our expectaions  

From Tony greeting us at the door, to the excellent service of Wendy, this was a dinner to remember. For our wedding anniversary dinner it could not have been better. The food was 5 star as well as the service. Intimate and quiet, it was truly a delight. I highly recommend Sante for anyone that wants to have a special night out.

romatic for 2, great for 10  

The food is addicting. The atmosphere is intimate and romantic for a dinner date. Yet the larger rooms are great for larger groups

great experience  

I took my girlfriend there for a nice little dinner and recieved a great experience. The service there was incredible and the food was excellent. I would definately recommend this place to anyone.

Excellent Food, But...  

I took my wife to Sante's for her 28th birthday. We had reservations at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday night of April 11, '06. We were greeted by a nice host and we were given a choice of seats since the restaurant was not very busy. After we were given some delicious bread we ordered, throughout the evening, 2 glasses of wine each, the mushroom appetizer, the chef's special spaghetti, and the lobster ravioli. We really enjoyed the dinner. The wine was good and we really enjoyed the mushrooms. The spaghetti was the best I ever had in my life. But the ambiance was not a 5 star feel. The resaurant looked somewhat ill-kept with the pictures sitting crooked and the too many tables cramed into the small facility. The service was nice but not 5 star. The host acted and looked somewhat teenage-ish. The waitress was obviously new since she made more than one mistake with our order. Overall the food was 5 start but everthing else was not worth the $101 bill. Even though I would eat there again, I will definitely try other restaurants first.

Quite accommodating/authentic  

I went here for valentines day of 04 with my girlfriend. I checked the website and apparantly a lot of famous San Diego clebrities tend to visit here. The people were very nice and parking wasnt too hard to find nearby which was surprising for La Jolla. Since it was valentines day, they had a special menu which had prices in the 100 dollar range per person, but each selection was a meal and not just a component of the meal. I chose the ravioli entre (everything was in Italian so it was it bit hard for me to find something I liked and recognized) The appetizers were fairly good, but never did find out what they were. The ravioli came and it was pink and heart shaped. It was very tasety and had some oils that gave it a bit of a bite which I enjoyed. While waiting for the desert, I decided to find the restroom and as I was getting up, the seat cushion slid out from underneath me, off of the chair frame. I am sure this was an isolated incident for such a nice restaurant, but the manager gave me a coupon for free deserts and drinks should I return (since the prices of the meals already included deserts and drinks on this night) so I was happy. Desert finally came and I asked for a chocolate mousse kind of thing which was very sweet and enjoyable. The restaurant made this a very fine night for me and my girlfriend and would love to go back. My only suggestion is that even though the prices are faily average (10-20 a plate) most of the time, they do love to jack up the prices amazingly high for holidays, so for those special occasions, expect to spend 200ish dollars.

Ideal Parents' Night Out  

Your review was right on the money: quiet; romantic, adult atmosphere; understated, yet attentive service; fantastic food; VERY reasonable prices. Superb wine list, especially for Italian wine lovers. (Check out the Barolos.) We plan to park the kids, including the teenager, and return soon.

above average  

This is a nice little resturant in La Jolla, service was great and I recommend the quial stuffed raviolli, and the choclate bundt cake. drinks can be overpriced, but then again isn't it everywhere.

Disappointed  

My wife and I dined at Sante Ristorante based largely on two factors (1) good reviews in SanDiegoRestaurants.com and (2) I was in the mood for cioppino, which I knew they served. The restaurant itself is tucked away neatly just off of the main thoroughfare in La Jolla. We dined in their front heated patio and the amibiance was quite intimate and nice. The service was great - the waiter was always available, but not so obstrusive that my wife and I thought we had invited him to dinner. The low spot for Sante Ristorante is the quality of the food for the price. We payed $110 for appetizers, main course, and drinks, but the food just did not measure up to that kind of money. We had mussels and clams for an appetizer, which were good, but not great. My wife had ravioli stuffed with lobster, but again, she thought it was good but not great. The Cioppino was a real let down as it had a very bland taste to it. My wife and I distinctly remember having similar dishes in San Fransicso, Monterey, and down in the Gaslamp District, which were so good that you were half tempted to lick the plate when you were done. You just didn't get that kind of response from your taste buds here. The New York Style cheesecake, which we had for desert, could easily be outdone by Marie Calendars, and the glass of Italian Pinot Grigio, which cost $8/glass, was clearly outdown by Bella Serra Pinot Grigio (also Italian), which sells for $8 a bottle at any local grocery store. It certainly was not a terrible experience, but with so many restaurants to chose from in the San Diego area, my wife and I feel no compunction to return to Sante Ristorante.

Very Disappointing  

We went to Sante Ristorante for Valentine's Day and were very disappointed with the overall experience. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt as it was a busy day and they were obviously swamped, but if you are going to accommodate so many people that your service suffers, then you do not deserve a good review. We waited 15 minutes before a hostess would even talk to us. Wine and bread came quickly, but we were disappointed to find that 2 of the 5 entrees had already run out, and we were both forced to settle for our second choices. It took far too long for our entrees to come, and while we were waiting we talked with several tables who had been waiting for an extremely long time for their food. The food itself was actually quite good but very very overpriced for the small portions that they served. My girlfriend ordered a dirty martini and when it came it ended up tasting like a strange candy liquor. We complained and they brought us a new one, with the same results. They ended up not charging us for the drinks, but i feel like they could have done much more to make up for the lackluster service. Overall I feel extremely cheated and ripped off by the whole experience. I should have gone to Saska's, next door to my house, and bought a steak and 8 martinis for the same price.

Mediocre at Best...  

Based on the rave reviews that Sante received on this website, I was expecting good food, exemplary service, an intimate atmosphere; in short, an enjoyable and pleasant dining experience. Imagine my surprise when I arrived at a nearly empty Sante's on Thursday night only to be told to wait for a table because I had not called ahead for reservations. Granted that might just be restaurant policy; however, once we were seated, we waited nearly ten minutes before our waiter brought us our menus, though there were only two other parties in the room. Fortunately our waiter was attentive and well-informed about all the dishes. But the food--decent, bland, lukewarm--was not worth the price. At four pieces a plate, the lobster ravioli was simply not delicious or well-presented enough to have merited its $24 price. The salmon was respectable, the pesto pasta something that could have come from a box, the prosciutto flavorless and surrounded by watery hunks of melon; frankly, I was disappointed. And between our appetizers and main entrees we waited 40 minutes (mind you, 40 minutes AFTER we had finished our appetizers). And while the atmosphere is indeed intimate (in an empty, echoing way), there are far too many restaurants in Gaslamp, Hillcrest, and PB area that offer excellent food at reasonable prices. I suggest you avoid Sante and dine somewhere else.