Amidst the rolling, lush green hills and winding road of Mt. Hamilton, you will find a true Silicon Valley hidden gem. The Mount Hamilton Grand View Restaurant—now the GrandView Restaurant and Venue—was once the site of a hotel, tavern and stage company during the late 1800s. After three fateful fires, the building was rebuilt as the GrandView restaurant in 1956. Since then, hundreds of patrons have visited this historic site, with stunning views of the Santa Clara valley below.
Lucy Ciciarelli, who purchased and ran the restaurant with her husband for 40 years, was known for her homemade raspberry, strawberry, and blueberry cheesecake and decadent chocolate cake. With her energetic spirit, Lucy always greeted her patrons, and rushed around each table to make sure everything was ready for the next diners. It was evident that she loved the GrandView, but after 40 years of running and maintaining the historic establishment, it was time for her to hang up her apron. In the spring of 2014, she decided to close the restaurant. Regular patrons—including myself—were saddened to know that this favored dining spot would be no more. Fortunately, brothers Maurice and Joe Carrubba decided to purchase the historic restaurant, and gave it a much needed posh renovation and redesign.
As you enter the cocktail lounge, you are welcomed by the music of Frank Sinatra singing in the background. The décor and vibe of the restaurant has morphed from its once retro-chic 70s feel, to that of a classic Hollywood lounge, with photos of Dean Martin, Marilyn Monroe, and Frank Sinatra adorning the walls. A baby-grand piano sits near the entrance and is used by many accomplished local and international musicians that perform for patrons five days a week.
I had the privilege of being invited for a special tour of the new venue, farm, and a menu tasting with one of the owner’s, Maurice, as my host.
Our first stop was at the GrandView Farm. The farm was purchased six months after the restaurant. It was Maurice and his brother’s goal to have a self-sustaining farm that would use their own organically grown produce in their dishes. As Maurice explained, “As most restaurants are farm-to-table, our produce is seed-to-table.” They also harvest their own seeds for the produce they grow for their menu items.
Keeping with the tradition of his Sicilian roots, Maurice is no stranger to the cultivation of farmland, as he and his brother helped his parents with their farm in Sicily.
A portion of the 60-acre farm is the birthplace of many fruits such as apricots, figs, stone fruit, and grapes, and a plethora of seasonal vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, peppers, spinach, eggplant, different type of kale including Italian kale (broccolini), and more. Maurice explained that they recently harvested over 4,000 pounds of tomatoes, with which they made marinara and other special sauces. They cultivate both above and in-ground farming using raised planters. They also use native soil and have organic compost and soil delivered to the farm. Currently, they are in the process of being certified as organic produce growers, as they do not use any chemicals or pesticides in their production.
Maurice continued to explain that, “We are in the process of expanding the farm with the addition of 25-30 more above-ground planters.” They also plan to cultivate more grapes for their own wine, add a bee colony for fresh honey, grow pine trees for Christmas, and eventually open the farm to the public for community events.
The farm, which was once a cattle ranch for over 100 years, has its own wellspring water, and is home to a 100-year-old barn. Maurice plans to convert the barn into a venue for wine tastings and special events. At the farm, they also harvest grass-fed cattle (angus beef), along with organically fed chickens and goats. The beef from the cows, the eggs from the chickens, and the milk that is used for goat cheese from the goats, are used in various dishes at the restaurant.
The ranchers and farmers he has on his team have a combined 70 years of experience. Danielle, the main farmer, lives at the farm with her husband and children. They are entrusted with the farm, and make sure that everything runs smoothly.
As Maurice explained, “I have a talent for making special partnerships with the right people, which all contribute their ideas in making the farm and the restaurant a continued success.” Maurice’s motto, “One team, one dream.”
After the farm tour, we headed over to the restaurant. I was seated at a corner table with a spectacular view of the valley below. Maurice joined me for dinner, which was a rare treat. Alex, the maitre’d, Ilya, the general manager, and Miguel, the executive chef, visited our table with a gracious welcome.
We started with the aperativo of the Bruschetta Trio, which includes house-made focaccia crostini with wild mushrooms, goat cheese, and truffle oil, ahi crudo with lemon zest, GrandView Farms mint and rosemary, braised escarole with gorgonzola crema, and GrandView Farms roasted fig jam. The combination of flavors—especially the truffle oil—was perfect for waking the taste buds and leaving them wanting more.
Next came the Lobster Ravioli. This is not your typical square ravioli, as it is made with giant handmade ravioli that is stuffed with lobster and placed on a pool of GrandView Farms basil cream sauce. The freshness of the lobster was front-and-center, and the cream sauce offers a smooth finish.
The pork chop was the clear winner during my knife-and-fork journey through the plethora of flavors. Braised for 48-hours, the kurobuta pork with roasted plum demi glace was so tender that it almost melted in my mouth. The plum demi glace offered a unique sweet tone to the savory taste of the pork. Accompanied with a side of a potato croquette, roasted fingerling potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, and pickled radish, were just the right amount of sides without compromising the main dish. A glass of the 2012 Belle Glos Pinot Noir was a perfect wine pairing that went well with all of the dishes served.
The dinner ended with a perfect portion of the GrandView’s Classic Cheesecake. With a layer of graham cracker crust, a cream cheese layer, and topped with a layer of sour cream and sugar, Lucy would approve of this specially created dessert.
After the tasting, I could not leave without heading outside onto the veranda to take in the view. As the sun was setting, all the lights of the valley below were beginning to twinkle, like gold glitter on black velvet. The stars and the moon are also visible on a clear night.
While taking in the view, I sipped on one of GrandView’s signature cocktails, the Chocolate Martini. As I thoroughly enjoyed this tasty concoction, the song “La Vie En Rose” began to play. It was a magical moment, and a perfect end to an excellent dining experience at the GrandView.
If you have yet to visit the GrandView, make sure to add it to your bucket-list of places to experience in Silicon Valley. You and yours are always welcome to come up and enjoy the view!
GrandView Hours of Operation:
Dinner: Wednesday to Sunday, 5 pm-10 pm
Bar: 3 pm-10 pm
***Reservations are encouraged***
The GrandView now hosts meetings and special events such as weddings, graduations, and birthdays. The new onsite cottage is a perfect weekend getaway for couples and romantics alike, and is the perfect honeymoon suite for newlyweds or a great spot to celebrate an anniversary.
For more information on the GrandView, to make dinner reservations, or to schedule a special event, please visit: http://www.grandviewsanjose.com/
To book the cottage, please visit: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/10888383
Review & Photos by Sophia M. Papadopoulos
Additional photos provided by the GrandView