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New Times / Strokes & Plugs

The following article was posted on July 31st, 2013, in the New Times - Volume 28, Issue 1 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 28, Issue 1

In perfect Harmony

The tiny town on Hwy. 1 has a new café

BY LAREINA GAMBOA


FRESH ITALIAN STYLE
At the newly opened Harmony Café in Harmony, Chef and Owner Giovanni Grillenzoni showcases a menu that changes weekly to take advantage of local and seasonal food from the area.
PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER

A sunny Sunday drive up the coast, with miles of salty seawater to the left, and sky-high mountains to the right. Maybe Cambria’s the destination, maybe Cayucos, or maybe even Big Sur, but Harmony we’re just passing through.

That is, you were just passing through. The little town of Harmony—with a population of 18—has a new café. In December 2012, Giovanni Grillenzoni opened Harmony Café for this little community.

Grillenzoni started his career in Italy by becoming a master chef in 1980, and he’s been on the Central Coast for many, many years now.

It might sound unlikely to find an Italian master chef in such a tiny town in California, but Grillenzoni didn’t hesitate expressing his enthusiasm for Harmony: “Harmony found me. It’s the best place in the world. I love Harmony. Everybody loves it and enjoys it.”

The first thing guests come upon before entering the café is a small but lovely courtyard. There are plenty of tables for sitting and eating, and the café itself is adorably quaint. Now, SLO itself isn’t a big city by any means, but it’s difficult not to feel like some Hollywood yuppie raving and ranting about this tiny town. But the locals love it just as much.

Grillenzoni has a new menu every week, and he creates all the dishes with food from local farms and farmers; if he can, he keeps it organic. His specialty creations include salads, sandwiches, pasta, with a full espresso bar, and desserts.

“I believe in my food, and I believe in my people. I prefer to go slow and take care of the food and the people first,” Grillenzoni said in response to a question about the café’s lack of an Internet presence.

In time, he does plan to have a website and Facebook page—but that’s not anytime soon. They’ve been open for less than a year and word is spreading quickly, so does he really need those sites?

Harmony Café is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Grillenzoni is there every day, at least 10 hours a day. The restaurant is at 2177 Old Creamery Road and can be reached at 924-1219.

 

Fast fact

The Morro Bay National Estuary Program is looking for volunteers to help with the Morro Bay Eelgrass Recovery Program Aug. 19 to 24. Volunteers will work two-hour shifts between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. bundling eelgrass that will be planted by divers. The goal is to plant 8,000 bundles of eelgrass across a two-acre area on the bay floor, and volunteer divers are needed as well. To learn more and volunteer, visit mbnep.org.

 

Intern Lareina Gamboa compiled this week’s Strokes. Send your business and nonprofit news to strokes@newtimesslo.com.