It's difficult to find REALLY authentic Italian restaurants anywhere these days; and you would think it impossible to do so in Solvang....
Until you visit Cecco!!!
From the way they serve olive oil and balsamic with bread (the best bread I've had in a while), to the authentic dishes, you'll know right away that you hit the spot if you're accustomed to a particular standard for Italian cuisine.
Service, ambiance, blah blah blah, was superb. Perfect, really. But it's always irrelevant when the typical disappointment sets in upon realization you're in a restaurant that just does Italian. Well, Cecco Ristorante IS Italian. There's even a guy (probably the owner) who will bust your chops if you like!
The appetizers were ridiculous: the arugula with burrata and beets was unbelievable, as was the classy Caprese, done with a bit of pesto... OMG. But best of all were the paste and secondi. Not many places will do a fine carbonara or Bolognese, which we didn't try but will next time. But we had the panzerotti (ravioli) and almost died. For me it was the sage -- another clue we hit an authentic joint. The bistecca was also knock-out. And for a guy who eats very "clean" and healthy, it was perfect because the portions were generous, and the vegetables were done so right.
Even if you're in Santa Barbara, do you really want to gamble on some "nice" place which poses as an Italian restaurant but really doesn't know what it's doing except pounding your wallet? Infinitely more worth it is the short spin north into Solvang, with zero risk of disappointment at Cecco -- a completely unexpected authentic Italian gem.