Polenteria offers a gluten-free menu in downtown Los Gatos

Yvonne Khananis can’t pass up a good idea. The serial entrepreneur, owner of Reverence Catering and Grocer + Goddess, recently opened Polenteria at 10 Victory Lane in Los Gatos.

The restaurant offers a simple, gluten-free menu for dinner, but it didn’t start out that way.

“I’ve had the idea for a polenta-focused restaurant for about seven years,” says Khananis. “It wasn’t always going to be gluten-free, but it evolved. When I was able to create good gluten-free bread, it became a quest to create everything delicious: desserts, focaccia, Italian bread.

Her limited seasonal menu consists of several salads with the house dressings she made popular at Grocer & Goddess, a flight of bruschetta with toppings named after friends, as well as polenta dishes with sauces like venison bolognese, the traditional bolognese, mushrooms and sausages with wine, cheese broccolini with alfredo, and tomatoes with Gorgonzola and caramelized onions.

The bread service is accompanied by a focaccia and an Italian roll, with butter and a whole roasted garlic flower. The polenta is made the old fashioned way with a tiny bit of cream and cheese. But the food is beyond polenta, with sole, lamb chops, chicken, meatballs, and a Tomahawk steak among the options.

Desserts like gelato and ice cream provide comfort food. “We made our own vanilla ice cream, and as soon as I smelled the ice cream maker, it took me back to when I was 5,” says Khananis. “There’s a certain smell of real vanilla ice cream, and that first bite, oh, wow! I was transported to be a child again.

Polenteria has a full liquor license, but the focus is on a small but powerful wine list with around 14 wines by the glass and six Italian craft cocktails, including a Paloma with Campari, an Aperol spritz and a Black Manhattan with rye and Amaro.

Non-alcoholic cocktails are also available.

Khananis works on gluten-free pasta, which is a challenge, as typical wheat-free pasta tends to taste like chickpeas, corn, or almonds. “I’m trying to literally recreate normal, everyday, gluten-free pasta with the right consistency and ability to hold sauce.”

Once that’s done, Khananis hopes to have a Monday night pasta pre-fix with a choice of sauces and a salad and dessert for a single price.

“It’s sexy and fun, kind of like old New York, with candles on every table and a host outside with a little lamp,” she says.

For now, the Polenteria is open Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and reservations are required, as the restaurant can only seat 18 people. Khananis runs her catering business in the same storefront during the day.

Make a reservation by sending a direct message to Khananis via https://www.instagram.com/polenterialg.

David H. Henry