A newly renovated San Jose landmark remains timeless
The Santa Clara
May 17, 2018
Don’t call it a comeback—Pizza Antica is once again open for business after a remodel and its winning formula of an elegant atmosphere and rustic Italian cuisine is still as satisfying as ever.
Pizza Antica keeps a consistent ambiance across the establishment, from the stark subway tiles on the wall to the earthy arugula in its gnocchi: trendy while pleasantly familiar. Antica prides itself on atmosphere and rightfully so. But perhaps its strongest suit is its functional cooking—there is a personality to this restaurant, but the great food is only a small component of it. The friendly service speaks to Pizza Antica’s approachability, the interior design harkens to the Euro café and the lighting and ambience set a mood that is both formal and lighthearted.
Now with a fully revamped bar and updated decor, Pizza Antica has taken its cozy charm and elevated it in a refreshing way. I’m not sure how much inflation comes into play here, but while Antica is certainly not an affair in which to get “gussied up,” the fare might be a little more expensive than the average college student’s budget can afford. For a special occasion or nice night out, however, the prices are completely reasonable—all the more so when you take your first bite.
To start, I tried the meatballs with garlic crostini in red sauce. They were traditional and decidedly solid but to be fair, it’s hard to mess up meatballs. Antica’s version is hearty and especially delicious, and the garlic bread acted as a perfect textural complement.
The menu rarely strays from the standard Italian as a rule, with a few notable exceptions which highlights the restaurant’s creativity with local produce.
My table sampled two salads, the classic caesar and a more modern arugula strawberry creation. Both were very sensible dishes—just like the rest of the menu, Antica’s salads are a vehicle for craftsmanship above everything else. The tangy-sweet arugula salad obviously had the more complicated palate of the two, but you don’t come to Pizza Antica to have your world shaken.
For the main entrées, I tried the spaghettini and the gnocchi. The spaghetti was served traditionally, with tomato conserva, garlic and basil plated very minimalistically. Although it didn’t look like much, this dish may have been the highlight of the evening. Spaghetti is a fairly common dish, but great spaghetti is truly hard to find and you will find it at Pizza Antica. Their spaghettini was, again, not ostentatious in the slightest, but instead anchored its confidence in its classic flavor.
The gnocchi, which was recommended by our waiter, was similarly fantastic. Topped with both pesto and a tomato crème, as well as a cold arugula salad, the rich pasta was perfectly complemented by the spritely greens. But let us not forget that Pizza Antica is first and foremost an establishment for every college student’s favorite food: pizza. I sampled both the classic margherita and the seasonal asparagus special.
The asparagus pizza is served with a white sauce and loads of fresh asparagus. Unfortunately, the asparagus didn’t seem cooked or otherwise pre-treated before being put in the pizza oven, causing it to develop an unpleasant spongy texture. The margherita, on the other hand, was predictably great.
Late into my dinner, a couple eating next to us sparked a conversation and we engaged in a pizza share of sorts—they wanted to try the asparagus special while we had just finished the margherita and were looking for another slice. It was a nice moment of communal dining that could happen at any restaurant, but Pizza Antica seems especially suited for interactions like this. So grab some hungry friends, save some pocket money and have a blast at Pizza Antica sometime soon.
Contact Peter Schutz at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.