There’s a new player in the Silicon Valley tapas game. Gianni Chiloiro, owner of San Francisco Italian restaurant Doppio Zero, opened a new restaurant Vida Tapas on February 3. The 5,300-square-foot space is dedicated to small bites, including standard Spanish fare such as Spanish tortillas and patatas bravas, grand entrees including three paellas and a 34-ounce tomahawk steak, and a robust cocktail menu focusing on mezcal and gin. The chef and owner says he’s excited. The space is perfect for shaking off the worst of what COVID brought to the restaurant industry, he says. “So far people are happy,” Chilorio says. “We are ready to go.”
The back of house, brought in from Sevilla and Madrid, know their way around pulpo, Spanish for octopus. Chilorio says if there’s a main attraction, it’s the pulpo gallego, a Gallician-grilled octopus tapa with crushed potatoes, oil, and a bit of salt. That said, the butterflied branzino might be Chilorio’s favorite. Naturally, he recommends the paellas, but says he thinks the lamb meatballs and croquettes could be sleeper hits, too. All in all the menu features 15 different tapas, and for dessert the having-a-moment Basque cheesecake will make an appearance. For drinks, Vida is opening with three different gin and tonics: the Valencia combines Prairie gin, tonic, and elderflower liqueur; followed by the Barcelona, which adds hibiscus to that recipe; then the Madrid, which adds butterfly pea rather than hibiscus. The house-made sangria aims to be a must-try, as well.
As far as design goes, Chilorio hopes the sprawling restaurant offers something for everyone. Formerly Xanh Vietnamese, Chilorio oversaw a redesign from local architect Oswaldo Mesia. Now, there’s a u-shaped bar and accompanying lounge, plus distinct separate areas Chilorio intended for hosting events. There’s a private bar, a greeting and main room, and an outdoor area with marble tables and patio furniture. He’d like to bring in banana leaf plants to create a bit of a tropical setting outside, if he can swing it. There’s also a terraza room that sports a projector screen, which Chilorio hopes will be a go-to for private parties. Live music and lounge DJs, international music and lowkey stuff, should be on most every night, but Chilorio is in no rush to find a sustainable pace. “We don’t want to start strong without being able to continue taking care of the customer in the long run,” Chilorio says.
This new restaurant is not too far a reach for the entrepreneur. Chilorio and his partner Angelo Sannino opened Doppio Zero in Mountain View in 2014, expanding to San Francisco’s Hayes Valley and Concord over the years. The duo’s Doppio Zero Cupertino location closed during the pandemic. Now that he’s spent nearly a decade running restaurants in the Bay Area, Chilorio says he wants to bring life back to a restaurant scene depleted thanks to COVID. “When I saw that restaurant close,” Chilorio says of Xanh Vietnamese. “I thought I wanted to bring in something beautiful.”
Vida Tapas (110 Castro Street, Mountain View) is open Sunday through Thursday, 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., with lunch to be added, and Friday and Saturday 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.