Pausa (San Mateo)

Pausa in downtown San Mateo is interesting Italian restaurant with very well executed creative dishes. Many of their key ingredients are made in-house, e.g. all of their charcuterie, pasta, pizza, gelato etc. Service was professional but at the same time relaxed and laid back. Overall very good dinner and highly recommended.

Started the night with some good m/cocktails with both of them not overly sweet and well balanced - fico d’india - mezcal, opuntia prickly pear, lime, tamarind, agave, tajin rim; pisco punch - pisco, passion fruit, lemon, simple

Charcuterie plate was outstanding with everything made in-house - Pausa Prosciutto 30 months, Mortadella pistachio, garlic, black pepper, Salame del Doge squid ink, lemon zest, garlic, tigella, cunza, pickles, whole grain mustard.

Napa cabbage, daikon, parmigiano & pine nut chips, garlic squid ink croutons, crispy quail eggs – I need more crispy quail eggs in my life

kurobuta pork belly, 24 hr slow-cooked, celery root puree, fava beans, spring onions, pickled mustard seeds, pork demi-glace – it’s hard to make pork belly bad but this was a very good version – very tender but at the same time with enough “bite” and the right “sides” to balance the richness

chestnut linguine, octopus ragu, chickpeas, calabrian chile, dried olive dust, parsley, lemon zest, crispy rosemary – great octopus which wasn’t cut too small to get overwhelmed by everything else and nice subtle heat in the backgroundfrom the chile

red wine malloreddus, taleggio & tartufata fonduta, grated black truffle, hazelnuts, crispy baby kale, truffle oil - if you like black truffle (and our daughter does) that is a great dish

kurobuta pork chop, sunchoke & burrata puree, charred onions, potato mash, crispy beluga lentils, pickled sunchoke, frisee pork demi-glace – cooked medium (as it should be) with tasty amounts of pork fat – pork heaven

Dessert required another m/cocktail - lo stallone - tequila reposado, amaretto, lemon, agave, egg white, chocolate bitters, fresh rosemary

lemon tartufo, vanilla cake, citrus curd, lemon mousse, yuzu & almond glaze – dessert continued to impress with excellent execution

bomboloni, sheep ricotta doughnuts, house made nutella, banana anglaise, cocoa nib cream, hazelnut cremosa – the bomboloni were great but the house made Nutella was the star of the dish

affogato, espresso, vanilla gelato, cranberry cantucci


Great report and photos!

We were trying to get together with our SBay friends to visit Pausa and then the lockdown happened :sleepy:

Once I get some medical stuff taken care of, we’re going to have to try again. Bit of a long drive for us, since we’re EBay.

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It’s always worth driving for good food. We live in RWC but our restaurant list also includes many restaurants in East Bay and SF.

Nice write up! The pork chop looks amazing. We love the cocktails at Pausa. Will definitely go soon for some of these dishes.

Another great visit to Pausa in San Mateo. Creative, well executed Italian cuisine with an outstanding charcuterie program, excellent pasta and entrees, playful desserts and good cocktails. And made perfect by professional, yet very relaxed service which doesn’t rush anybody.

Charcuterie Board with Prosciutto San Daniele, Salame Zafferano, Ciccioli, tigella, cunza, pickles, whole grain mustard - over 20+ selection of charcuterie all made in-house beside the prosciutto. The cunza with with the warm, freshly made tigella is outstanding.

Beets, smoked sour creme, granny smith apples, pomegranates, toffee crumble, pistachios, crispy brussels sprouts - Great combination of earthy, yet slightly sweet beets with the smokey sour creme and nice texture from the crumble and pomegranates

Saffron paccheri, nduja, bell peppers, wild arugula, goat ricotta salata, lemon oil - the in-house made nduja was the star of the dish with a nice, but not overwhelming spiciness and quite pronounced smokiness. Bell peppers added some subtle sweetness and the goat ricotta some funk

Milk fed veal tenderloin, chanterelle mushroom sauce, truffled potato croquette, white onion puree, pickled ramps - Very tender veal with a nice flavor, umami heavy sauce and quite truffle heavy croquette with plenty of truffle pieces

“Snicker” budino, peanut butter cake, caramel creme, milk chocolate cremoso, fudge sauce, vanilla chantilly, meringue - A very, very elevated snickers with all the flavors one would expect but much more refined and pronounced

Bomboloni, sheep ricotta doughnuts, peach semifreddo, graham streusel, poached peaches and jam - wonderful, warm bomboloni which paired nicely with the different peach components, especially the semifreddo


Another visit to Pausa in San Mateo - still one of the best Italian restaurants on the Peninsula and on the same level as many well known places in the city. The charcuterie plate is still one of the best anywhere

Prosciutto di Parma, salame bresciano, wagyu bresaola, salame pitina, ciccioli, tigella, cunza, pickles, while grain mustard

Burrata, cucumber walnut pesto, persian cucumber gel, black mission figs, mint dust, pecorino romano

Butter lettuce, summer melon, pickled watermelon rind, Armenian cucumber, bee pollen vinaigrette, pecorino di fossa

Saffron casarecce, braised pork sausage ragu, crispy lollipop kale, grana padano

Bee pollen spaghettoni, scallop & halibut sausage, pork n’duja, pecorino romano

Lamb shank, saffron fregola, swiss chard, pickled leeks, pecorino romano, mint & ramp salsa verde, lamb demi-glace

“Peaches & cream”, graham cake, orange tuile, vanilla pastry cream, peach sauce

Peanut butter panna cotta, compressed summer fruits, peanut butter cake croutons, blackberry thyme granita, raspberry jam


Out of curiosity, are those pasta dishes the full plates or a shared portion?

These are full plates - the portions are not huge like in many Italian-American restaurants but we find them much more inline what you would get in Europe and plenty enough for us

If the taste lives up to the photos, this should probably be at the top of my list. Thanks for investigating and sharing!

FYI from the Chron on Sept 1, 2023:
Palo Alto has a new restaurant from Steve Ugur, known for his popular San Mateo Italian restaurant Pausa. Sekoya, newly open on California Avenue, isn’t focused on one cuisine, so the menu ranges from Thai snapper crudo and lamb tartare to meat skewers cooked on a hibachi grill. A full bar serves cocktails like a milk punch and a slushie with honeydew. 417 California Ave., Palo Alto.

Our SMateo friends love Pausa, so they were intrigued by the news of his opening a new PAlto place.

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We have a lot of well executed italian places around - finding a touchstone - how would you compare it to Donato Enoteca?

We like Donato Enoteca which has good dishes (with a never changing menu which is for us in any restaurant disappointing) but Pausa executes on
a higher level, has more creative dishes, much better charcuterie, cocktails etc. Donato is very good but at least for us Pausa is different level

Sounds promising. I agree, we don’t get to donato enoteka much, although that bar downstairs isn’t unpleasant, but is a pizza outside. Pausa will certainly be on the list

Another great dinner at in San Mateo

Beet salad, sunchoke puree, blood orange, fennel, caramelized sunchokes

milk-ved veal tartare, truffled parmigiano, sauce, crispy egg yolk, chicories, bone marrow demi-glace

Charcuterie board - prosciutto di parma, porchetta, wagyu bresaola, salame oregano, salame cotto, tigella, cunza, pickles, whole grain mustard

Tuscan kale spaetzle, pork pancetta, controne beans, crispy spigarello, pecorino romano

Saffron casarecce, braised pork sausage sugo, crispy lollipop kale, grana padano

Confit pork ossobuco, sunchoke puree, crispy truffled sheep ricotta gnudi, pork demi-glace, lollipop kale chips

Passion fruit & banana parfait, roasted banana gelato, caramel cayenne, chocolate crumble, passion fruit foam, sponge cake, chocolate tuile

Apple cinnamon financier, cinnamon mousse, financier sponge, almond cookies, poached apple, apple sauce, apple tuile, white chocolate snow