Family-Owned Favorites in the East Bay

Aryana Mediterranean Cuisine in Danville offers a variety of kabob plates, wraps and salads. Photo: Janet Fazio.

We’re lucky to live in an area where there are so many family-owned restaurants that treat patrons like guests in their own homes. Here are a few new additions that I’m happy to add to that list.

Aryana Mediterranean Cuisine

DANVILLE – Under new ownership, Danville’s Aryana Mediterranean Cuisine is perfect for those wanting a casual lunch or dinner spot for family and friends.

Choose from a variety of kabob plates, wraps and salads, or delve into Aryana’s house specialties and prepare to be delighted.

If you want to stay on the lighter side, opt for a shish or shawarma salad. Filled with mixed greens, tomatoes and cucumbers, salads are available in chicken, lamb and beef.

Aryana’s lamb shawarma was a favorite, featuring a generous serving of thinly sliced, tender grilled lamb. Its mild seasoning allows the flavor of the lamb to shine.

Falafel balls, dolma, tabbouleh and more are also on the menu. Wraps start at $7.50, plates at $10.99. Open Monday-Friday from 11am and Saturday from noon. No alcohol. 9000 Crow Canyon Road, Ste. J, Danville.

Vitella piccata served at Benvenuti Ristorante in Walnut Creek. Photo: Yelp/Giu A.

Benvenuti Ristorante

WALNUT CREEK  – Salvatore (of Salvatore Ristorante) may have retired, but great Italian cuisine lives on at Walnut Creek’s Benvenuti Ristorante. The restaurant, which remains in the family, reopened this spring after a face lift with several new items on the menu.

Cauliflower roasted with herbs, parmigiano reggiano and toasted hazelnuts is a good place to start your meal. Roasting brings out the flavor of cauliflower so much better than other cooking methods.

Torn between a pasta and a secondi, I decided on melenzana ripiena, which is close to having both. The dish features grilled eggplant filled with a savory mixture of ground veal, Italian sausage, potatoes and pine nuts. It’s served on a bed of penne lightly tossed with tomato sauce. The pasta was light, with just enough sauce to add flavor without being overwhelming.

Entrées start at $19. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 5pm. Full bar. 1627 N. Broadway, Walnut Creek.

Andy & Yu’s has opened their newest location in Pleasanton. Photo via Facebook.

Andy & Yu’s

PLEASANTON – At long last, Andy & Yu’s has opened for business in Pleasanton, transforming the former Fernando’s spot into a chic go-to location.

I vowed to try something other than my favorites from their sister restaurants, Uncle Yu’s in San Ramon and Lafayette. I started with the eggplant appetizer, deep-fried until golden brown and finished with hoisin ginger glaze.

Rainbow chicken is a lighter option that’s perfect to enjoy on a summer evening. The dish is comprised of stir-fried minced chicken and diced vegetables served in lettuce cups with hoisin sauce for dipping. Sautéed string beans rounded out our meal.

Lunch specials include hot and sour soup, sautéed vegetables, choice of vegetable chow mein, BBQ pork fried rice, steamed or brown rice.

Dishes start at $13. Lunch specials start at $11. Open daily from 11am. Full bar. 348 Saint Mary St., Pleasanton.

Lamb osso bucco served at Livermore’s Americano Deli & Grill. Photo: Janet Fazio.

Americano Deli & Grill

LIVERMORE – When I stopped in at Livermore’s Americano Deli & Grill and patrons at the tables around me were speaking Italian, I knew I was in for a treat. When I returned a week later and the hostess said it was good to see me again, I was sold.

Deli by day, there are dozens of gourmet sandwiches on the menu. The Venetian, with artichokes, mozzarella, tomatoes, avocado and basil was a great choice as was the Mr. Fred, made with pastrami, Swiss, godfather sauce and slaw. Since you’re already splurging, go ahead and order your sandwich on a Dutch crunch roll.

Grill by night, the lamb osso bucco is a home run. Fork tender with a mild flavor, it’s served with fresh veggies and risotto.

Sandwiches start at $8.99, entrées at $17. Open daily from 10:30am. No alcohol. 978 Murrieta Blvd., Livermore.

Janet Fazio writes ‘Tastes of Your Town’, a monthly feature on East Bay dining in the print editions of Your Town Monthly. A version of this article was originally published in August 2017.

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