Remember when kale was but a humble garnish? Lots of people would no more nibble on it than gnaw on a T-bone. Now, of course, the leafy green is seen as a superfood best scarfed up by the handful.
Staying on top of changing trends is key to longevity in the cutthroat restaurant business, every bit as much as it is in the go-go tech firms a block or two away from Joe Antuzzi’s Italian-American bistro and bar in downtown Sunnyvale, il Postale. That’s why it’s still going strong after more than two decades.
“In 20 years, Italian food went from No.1 to possibly No. 3 or 4 now,” Joe says. He’s stayed in the game by tweaking mostly around the margins and, when necessary, more fundamentally. “We’ve pushed the envelope, but we don’t change the basic cookbook.”
What remains a constant at the neighborhood white-linen restaurant is the conviction that delicious, generous portions of Italian-influenced food offered at a moderate price, with top-notch service in a casual atmosphere will never go out of style. Fresh fish, hearty pasta, fine pizza, soups and salads.
Sometimes, however, big changes are required. In August 2015, Il Postale relocated to 100 S. Murphy Ave. -- into a lovely, historic Del Monte drying shed -- after many years in the original Sunnyvale post office on Washington Avenue. The time was right because Joe had realized for some time that he needed more seating, including alfresco dining, and more bar space. (You can check out more pictures of the decor here on Facebook.)
He noticed years ago that patrons were more health-conscious and were no longer flocking to traditionally heavy Italian fare in big numbers, so he changed up the menu to offer more lighter entrees and appetizers, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes.
Another challenge requiring Joe to adapt was when the lunch crowds that famously flocked to restaurants during the dot-com era began to dwindle. Suddenly, the catering il Postale offered became a more important part of his business, as did gift cards. He also worked harder to spotlight the value of enjoying an il Postale meal. The new weekday $10 lunch deals are a good example where customers can choose two delicious items off a selected menu at a great value on the go or at the restaurant.
So, yes, much has changed at il Postale. But you should still call ahead at 408-733-9600, for a table reservation if you’re planning to come down with a party of five or more.
There is still one other ingredient that has remained in place since the very early years. Chef Santos Villa has been at il Postale for 19 years, cooking and adapting recipes, many of them handed down to Joe through his mother and grandmother.
With over 20 years of experience delivering family recipes that fit the neighborhood needs, il Postale is ready to serve you. Stay connected with il Postale on Facebook and visit www.ilpostale.com
Sunnyvale Downtown Association