Pausa (San Mateo)

Pausa in downtown San Mateo is interesting Italian restaurant with very well executed creative dishes. Many of their key ingredients are made in-house, e.g. all of their charcuterie, pasta, pizza, gelato etc. Service was professional but at the same time relaxed and laid back. Overall very good dinner and highly recommended.

Started the night with some good m/cocktails with both of them not overly sweet and well balanced - fico d’india - mezcal, opuntia prickly pear, lime, tamarind, agave, tajin rim; pisco punch - pisco, passion fruit, lemon, simple

Charcuterie plate was outstanding with everything made in-house - Pausa Prosciutto 30 months, Mortadella pistachio, garlic, black pepper, Salame del Doge squid ink, lemon zest, garlic, tigella, cunza, pickles, whole grain mustard.

Napa cabbage, daikon, parmigiano & pine nut chips, garlic squid ink croutons, crispy quail eggs – I need more crispy quail eggs in my life

kurobuta pork belly, 24 hr slow-cooked, celery root puree, fava beans, spring onions, pickled mustard seeds, pork demi-glace – it’s hard to make pork belly bad but this was a very good version – very tender but at the same time with enough “bite” and the right “sides” to balance the richness

chestnut linguine, octopus ragu, chickpeas, calabrian chile, dried olive dust, parsley, lemon zest, crispy rosemary – great octopus which wasn’t cut too small to get overwhelmed by everything else and nice subtle heat in the background from the chile

red wine malloreddus, taleggio & tartufata fonduta, grated black truffle, hazelnuts, crispy baby kale, truffle oil - if you like black truffle (and our daughter does) that is a great dish

kurobuta pork chop, sunchoke & burrata puree, charred onions, potato mash, crispy beluga lentils, pickled sunchoke, frisee pork demi-glace – cooked medium (as it should be) with tasty amounts of pork fat – pork heaven

Dessert required another m/cocktail - lo stallone - tequila reposado, amaretto, lemon, agave, egg white, chocolate bitters, fresh rosemary

lemon tartufo, vanilla cake, citrus curd, lemon mousse, yuzu & almond glaze – dessert continued to impress with excellent execution

bomboloni, sheep ricotta doughnuts, house made nutella, banana anglaise, cocoa nib cream, hazelnut cremosa – the bomboloni were great but the house made Nutella was the star of the dish

affogato, espresso, vanilla gelato, cranberry cantucci


We actually just tried this last week! It’s been around for a while right?

We didn’t go for any appetizers, but found the pizza was the standout - closest style that comes to mind are the pizzas Che fico alimentari does - really great flavor on the dough.

We haven’t tried their pizza but based on the quality of the other dishes I would expect it to be quite good

Thanks for putting this on my radar! I live in San Mateo County.

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Donato in Redwood City is legit.

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Donato Enoteca is good (but wish they would change their menu from time to time) but not on the same level as Pausa

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If that’s your notion of what Italian cooking should be, sure. To me Pausa’s plates all have too many ingredients.

You seem to have a very narrow view what (Italian) cooking might be which has little to do with reality. In addition, cooking in every country in constantly evolving and Pausa wouldn’t be out of place in some Italian city. And, none of the dishes had more ingredients than dishes at for example places like Osteria Mozza

The vast majority of Italian cooking in Italy is traditional, based on quality, simplicity, and maximizing the flavor of one or two main ingredients. There are places with French / international influence in big cities but the cooking of the country as a whole certainly isn’t evolving in that direction.

Mozza’s food sticks pretty closely to tradition. I’ve never had anything complicated there.

As I said Pausa dishes aren’t more complex than Osteria Mozza and are very much along the lines what you would get in restaurants in Italy

You can say what you like but I’ve eaten at Mozza enough to state categorically that you’re wrong.

If you pick any restaurant in Italy at random chances are about 1 in 100 that it will serve complicated “creative” food.

I am wrong about what - that Mozza and Pausa aren’t typical Italian ?

Osteria Mozza’s primi, secondi, and contorni are way closer to what you’d get in 99% of the restaurants in Italy.

Mozza: ricotta & egg raviolo with browned butter

Pausa: buckwheat butcher’s ravioli, filled with pork, beef, sheep ricotta & fava leaves, beef demi-glace, green garlic foam, fava beans, pecorino romano, leek ash

Mozza: gnocchi with duck ragù

Pausa: sheep ricotta tuscan gnocchi, crumbled pork coppa, pickled rhubarb & gastrique, peas, pecorino romano

Mozza: grilled beef tagliata with rucola, Parmigiano Reggiano and aceto balsamico

Pausa: wagyu beef zabuton, 48 hour slow-cooked, cannellini beans, cicerchie, pickled leeks, mint & pistachio pesto

When were you the last time at Pausa and actually tasted any dishes ?

The ridiculous menu aside (“dungeness crab, pear & sunchoke puree, apple cider vinaigrette, almonds, green apple & celery gele, passion fruit, salmon roe”), on the rare occasions I’m eating around San Mateo it’s sushi, regional Chinese, or some other cuisine they do better than the East Bay does.

Actually their salumi and cheese selections look first-rate. Total contrast to the Top Chef sent-home-for-using-too-many-ingredents insanity of the rest of the menu.

So you confirming that you are talking about a restaurant you don’t know anything about and showing again that you are just trying to say anything in a discussion without any substantial input/background (There is a reason why people are making jokes about you on Hungry Onion)

There’s nothing wrong with liking that kind of complicated “creative” food. Seems like lots of people do or there wouldn’t be restaurants making it. But when you say it’s on a higher level than a restaurant that serves real Italian food, I call bullshit.

Obviously I’m not going to persuade you that your notions about Italian food have no basis in reality, and you’re not going to convince me to stop being an intolerant snob about Italian food, so feel free to have the last word.

It is hard to take somebody serious who hasn’t obviously not tried anything described and just wanted to write something without background knowledge- The typical problem of armchair coaches

Another great visit to Pausa in San Mateo. Creative, well executed Italian cuisine with an outstanding charcuterie program, excellent pasta and entrees, playful desserts and good cocktails. And made perfect by professional, yet very relaxed service which doesn’t rush anybody.

Charcuterie Board with Prosciutto San Daniele, Salame Zafferano, Ciccioli, tigella, cunza, pickles, whole grain mustard - over 20+ selection of charcuterie all made in-house beside the prosciutto. The cunza with with the warm, freshly made tigella is outstanding.

Beets, smoked sour creme, granny smith apples, pomegranates, toffee crumble, pistachios, crispy brussels sprouts - Great combination of earthy, yet slightly sweet beets with the smokey sour creme and nice texture from the crumble and pomegranates

Saffron paccheri, nduja, bell peppers, wild arugula, goat ricotta salata, lemon oil - the in-house made nduja was the star of the dish with a nice, but not overwhelming spiciness and quite pronounced smokiness. Bell peppers added some subtle sweetness and the goat ricotta some funk

Milk fed veal tenderloin, chanterelle mushroom sauce, truffled potato croquette, white onion puree, pickled ramps - Very tender veal with a nice flavor, umami heavy sauce and quite truffle heavy croquette with plenty of truffle pieces

“Snicker” budino, peanut butter cake, caramel creme, milk chocolate cremoso, fudge sauce, vanilla chantilly, meringue - A very, very elevated snickers with all the flavors one would expect but much more refined and pronounced

Bomboloni, sheep ricotta doughnuts, peach semifreddo, graham streusel, poached peaches and jam - wonderful, warm bomboloni which paired nicely with the different peach components, especially the semifreddo


Another visit to Pausa in San Mateo - still one of the best Italian restaurants on the Peninsula and on the same level as many well known places in the city. The charcuterie plate is still one of the best anywhere

Prosciutto di Parma, salame bresciano, wagyu bresaola, salame pitina, ciccioli, tigella, cunza, pickles, while grain mustard

Burrata, cucumber walnut pesto, persian cucumber gel, black mission figs, mint dust, pecorino romano

Butter lettuce, summer melon, pickled watermelon rind, Armenian cucumber, bee pollen vinaigrette, pecorino di fossa

Saffron casarecce, braised pork sausage ragu, crispy lollipop kale, grana padano

Bee pollen spaghettoni, scallop & halibut sausage, pork n’duja, pecorino romano

Lamb shank, saffron fregola, swiss chard, pickled leeks, pecorino romano, mint & ramp salsa verde, lamb demi-glace

“Peaches & cream”, graham cake, orange tuile, vanilla pastry cream, peach sauce

Peanut butter panna cotta, compressed summer fruits, peanut butter cake croutons, blackberry thyme granita, raspberry jam