This is the restaurant that is part of the culinary arts program at Cabrillo College. The students rotate in the roles of preparing the meals, serving, washing dishes, hosting, etc. I have never had a bad meal here - everything has been so delicious, you would never guess it's a student-run restaurant. Meals usually include freshly baked bread, an amuse-bouche, soup or salad, palate cleanser (sorbet), and entree, and there is also a nice array of appetizers and desserts to choose from. The menu changes seasonally. Do yourself a favor and pay this place a visit!
As usual, great food and great pacing.
The ambiance was outstanding-I'm not quite sure why loud seems to be the current trend in restaurants but Pino Alto was a welcome break from the trend. The food choices offered something for everyone including my "plant-based" friend. The preparation of food was well done. My only complaint would be that the plating of food tried to be a little too artistic with many little "piles" on the plates. I would recommend Pino Alto to friends for a really pleasant evening out with good food.
Have wanted to dine here for years, finally made it for 63rd birthday. Creative menu and selections. Our server, Gregory, was nice, soft spoken and got all our questions answered. OMG, the butter was SO good. Forget the bread, I just ate the butter! The beetrrata was unusual and very good. I had the arctic char and my husband had the rack of lamb (very tender). Both very good, and beautiful presentation, flavorful veges =) Just a lovely birthday experience. Look forward to returning. It was not crowded on a rainy Wednesday evening, so maybe it is noisier on a Friday night. We enjoyed the quiet, attentive ambiance.
We've generally had good experiences at this restaurant. It's the culinary students' chance to impress with their creations, and they are usually pretty good. The service was excellent this time.
Only thing that keeps us from coming regularly is that the prices have gone up steeply in the past 18 months or so - it used to be much more reasonable since in effect we are the students' test subjects, if you will. Now it's simply gourmet restaurant prices, which is unfortunate.
For example, we enjoyed the wine and beer pairings in the past, but now that they are up to $75/pp (from $50 or so recently), the menu and pairings have to be stellar for us to even consider going.
For us, it means it's become only a once-in-a-great-while indulgence.
Everything was great. Service =great. Food better than great.
We enjoyed our evening & will definitely be returning in the future.
Thank you for a great evening.
Everything was wonderful, but for 2 things. Our table was a flimsy card table, and the room was very cold.
The meal we enjoyed was the Wine tasters special, 12.7.17. Unfortunately we have no wine palate at all so I couldn’t comment on the wines, however the 5course meal was among the best ever, anywhere! Pan fried scallops and pastry-wrapped beef were celestial, the smoked duck on a bed of greens was merely excellent. The cheese tray and desert tray were good, but spartan in contrast to the rest of the dinner. The experience with the staff was warm and attentive above and beyond the level of “great service” into the realm of memorable experience. It was an anniversary experience that we shall treasure.
This is a restaurant run by the Cabrillo College staff and students of the culinary program. The food is always very good to excellent. The service is usually a little quirky but it is fun to talk to the servers about their future plans in the restaurant business. We happened to go to the wine makers dinner this time. Dinner was great and the pours were very generous!
Enjoyed our food! Will recommend it. A great taste treat & wonderful value. Way to go students and teachers.
We really enjoyed the tapas menu! The food was delicious, creatively conceived, and beautifully presented. Service was attentive without intrusion. The wine was a great deal and perfect accompaniment to the meal. The restaurant even serves a house made hard cider. Great ambiance.... we enjoyed our meal and look forward to coming back!
The duck dish entree was disappointing but the halibut was great
Every bit of the food was exceptionally delicious.
The food was fantastic. Fresh, flavorful, and creative dishes. The service was good but pretty slow. They seemed understaffed. It's so cool that the students make and serve all the food. You can detect their pride in their work. I would definitely go here again and would recommend it to others as well.
Unfortunately, Pino Alto called to say they did not have a table for us at any time, even though we made a reservation on Open Table. Very disappointing!
The rating I gave is from previous visits.
Pino Alto is located inside a lovely historical mansion on the Cabrillo College campus. Easy directions to find it and a big parking lot.
Servers and chefs are students at the culinary school. The food, every bite, was fantastic. Would love to go again as they change the menus. Service is not perfect, but they try very hard which is to be commended. Knowing that these people are "in training", you will come to respect their hard work quickly and enjoy the evening.
Kudos to everyone at Pino Alto. Highly recommend sitting outside on the patio if the weather permits.
I've eaten dinner here 3 times now, once many years ago and 2 times in the last 8 months. Every meal has been delicious and a great value plus the menu was totally different each time.
Here is a review of my most recent dinner. Booking a reservation on Open Table was easy. At the beginning of the meal the server brought us an amuse-bouche and some lovely bread and butter. I had a light salad to start and my companions had curried zucchini soup. The soup was fantastic, I wish I had ordered it instead of the salad, however the salad was light and refreshing. Next was a yummy sorbet palate cleanser. Then, onto the entrees, two of us had the filet mignon and one had the pork belly. All 3 of us loved the food and it was beautifully presented. At the end we shared one order of dessert, a panna cotta infused with flowers, and it was very good.
Everything was delicious and the pace was low key, we ended up spending 3 hours there chatting and dining and not once were we pressured to leave so they could turn the table. I really appreciate that!
AND you can BYOB with no corkage fee!
Quiet and intimate. Service was excellent. Food was great.
We always enjoy coming to Pino Alto and chatting with the students. Our last visit was especially memorable. The handmade gnocchi, pates, skirt steak and short ribs were creative delicious. The list of local wines and retail prices is very good. We never go home hungry. Wish the restaurant was open all year round!
We have been coming to Pino Alto for 4 years now and have always been impressed by the menu and wait staff. There are enough wonderful options on the menu for everyone--from vegetarians to carnivores.
Students are well trained. Each semester the food seems to improve. Great service.
This was the second time we've been to Pino Alto, and we enjoyed it a lot both times! Both times the food has been creative and delicious (also affordable for what you get). The setting is truly unique and very comfortable; we got to sit by a lovely fire both times. Our server the first time was absolutely wonderful, personable and experienced, and made sure we had everything we needed. The second time our server was pleasant, but our entrees did not come out at the same time (it was a wine makers dinner and I had the vegetarian option, while my 3 friends all chose the meat option). All in all, it's a great deal and I'm so happy we have this wonderful restaurant with the Cabrillo College culinary students working there!
Have been a patron of this Cabrillo College culinary class restaurant for years. Historic home setting. Somewhat classy environment. Very good food. Good locally available wines at retail (read:not marked up) so not a need to bring your own bottle (besides, their wine sales support key restaurant attributes). Reasonable prices, though do not expect to walk away 'full' as the servings are more focused on quality over quantity. My only wish is that full meals would have been available instead of many tapas-style small plated items.
Students did a super job. Staff was very personable, including the chef.
Such incredible food. Great service. Little on the pricier side for the meal we got this time but always a great menu!
Best in service, delicious and a real Gem. One of top two restaurants in the Santa Cruz area.
The head chef came out twice to explain how they set up for weddings and see how we felt about the dinner. The server was very personable and attentive. It was very enjoyable.
My colleague and I enjoyed a 2 hour gourmet meal served by students who were friendly, humble and very creative. The Asian Fusion fall menu is outstanding!
After 31 years coming to Sesnon House for dinner and a few lunches, I was surprised to see market prices. However, it's worth it once in a while. Server is probably a more confident chef than waiter. :) Don't recall his name. He did his job but seemed to wish he were elsewhere.
My husband and I enjoyed a really great meal the other night at Pino Alto restaurant by the advanced culinary students. All the dishes we had were beautifully plated and tasty as well. The fish entree was especially good. The service was good and we enjoyed the little "extra" dishes that were provided. Very affordable wine list. We will definitely be going back!
This was the beginning of the semester at Pino Alto, where the culinary students, under the watchful eye of an experienced chef, cook, bake, serve, and host at the beautiful, historic Sesnon House. The food is always delicious, the setting is very pretty, the service is wonderful, and the prices are very reasonable for the high end food they serve. The menu changes on a monthly basis, and I would recommend checking out as many of their menus at possible!
We had a truly delicious meal, best ever at Pino Alto. Every course was flavorful and the meal was served almost professionally. We enjoyed the wine experience too. We'll go back!
Adjust your expectations in order to enjoy the training aspect of this establishment. It is part of a learning experience for students. Worthy of support but not to be compared to an ongoing restaurant.
These food service people do a great job as they are learning the trade at Cabrillo College. The menu is constantly changing and quite innovative. The wait staff is not always perfect but they are students, and learning. Glad to support them and encourage them. I want this program to continue.
Food was delicious, it was great to try different things, and the venue is lovely. The service was ok. Friendly but slow. Cooks were efficient.
The web site said Scallops. No Scallops. The tapas were tasty. Chicken something was excellent. Bread soo good. The salad with oranges just ok. Needed more fruit flavor and zip In the dressing. Chocolate something cake was dry. The service, while Marypolite was very uneven with a few very long waits.The wine suggested by the very lovely chef / waitress was perfect. Very much enjoyed talking with the crew.
We decided to sit outside and it was nice for a while but after it got a bit cold we asked the waiter to move the heater closer to us. He said he would but he forgot and we needed to remind him. Then once it was much colder I asked to move inside and the host was acommodating in reseating us. The appetizer arrived and it was good but themain course took a long time to come. My salmon had a charcoal flavor to it alhtough it was moist. Since we moved inside our waiter seemed to forget about us at that point and we had to start asking for things like the box and the bill. It took a while for that all to come and we were antsy to leave. So between the time it took for the main course to arrive and then the bill were must have been there for over 2 and a half hours! I would come back for lunch as I had a good experience when I came before. The dinner was also quite pricey. I'm not sure if I would come back for dinner.
Our first time at Pino Alto and we will be back. We had a wonderful dinner and look forward to trying lunch. Our server was friendly and had a fun personality. We had a 6pm reservation and we were seated on time. By the time we finished dinner all tables were occupied. The restaurant is small so a reservation is a must. We hope you enjoy your dinner as much as we did.
Food was mediocre, overcook and not well presented. Waiter was disinterested, hands in pocket ,had no idea how to open a wine bottle. Comment card at end of night was not offered. Supervisor/instructor did not circulate as normal. Price was excessive for occasion. We are frequent diners here , know that it is a student project and make allowances, but may not come back.
Each time we go to Pino Alto we enjoy ourselves thoroughly. The food is always interesting, the staff EXTREMELY friendly with great service, and the clientele seem to share in the experience the same way. We enjoyed the Tapas and will be back again!