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Monday, February 18 , 2019, 11:13 am | Fair 55º

Here & There

Donna Polizzi: Toma Restaurant & Bar Is a Romantic Getaway Right in Our Front Yard

Inside a charming Santa Barbara waterfront location is a delightful dining experience, from starters to dessert

With one of the most inviting glows around, Toma Restaurant & Bar, at 324 W. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara, is open daily from 5 to 10 p.m. Click to view larger
With one of the most inviting glows around, Toma Restaurant & Bar, at 324 W. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara, is open daily from 5 to 10 p.m. (Donna Polizzi photo)

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As we all know, Santa Barbara is glorious. Although I live in the North County now, I lived in Santa Barbara for many years, and the beauty of this place cannot be ignored.

Recently, my husband and I had a much needed escape to Santa Barbara from the daily grind. No ... I’m not talking about The Daily Grind, the coffee place. However, coffee is my one addictions and their coffee is a great way to start the day.

When my three kids were young, I would take them individually for what we call a “special time.” This allowed for us to bond, and allowed each child to receive individual attention, taking a break from our busy days.

These days, unfortunately, I tend to get very busy and forget how important it is to nurture my adult relationships. Can you relate? Time goes on, kids grow up, places and relationship change. I don’t know about, you but I desire having a romance with life, living it to the fullest.

We stayed at a nice, beachfront hotel and woke up to the peacefulness that comes from the ocean breeze, and the sounds of the waves and seagulls. What’s better than a day to reconnect, stroll down the beach, relax and talk?

Santa Barbara is so enchanting and the options are endless. It is home to a whopping 700 eateries.

We walked along the waterfront to Toma Restaurant & Bar, which was opened in 2013 by Victoria and Tom Dolan at 324 W. Cabrillo Blvd. Tom took the time to welcome us and explain the beginnings of this unique restaurant.

Toma is one of the most romantic restaurants that I have encountered. Soft lighting, comfortable elegance and open windows with the ocean breeze set the scene for a perfect dinner. It was romantic setting — classy, yet so comfortable. We laughed and had a great time.

The staff is very knowledgeable and highly attentive. Our starters were fried olives, rolled in semolina and stuffed with blue cheese, served with Italian sourdough bread was that made from their own kitchen.

All of the pasta is homemade. It sounded strange to me when we ordered, but the grilled romaine salad was beyond delicious! Grilled with hickory-smoked tomatoes and white beans ... it was the most savory salad I’ve ever tasted.

The roasted roots salad was also fantastic. I may start to sound like I have stock in this restaurant, but it is only because it’s so darn good!

Everything we ate had robust, fresh flavors.

My Italian husband ordered rigatoni with Italian sausage. After the first bite, he fell into a silent state of bliss.

My New York steak with rosemary and black pepper au jus, was so tender it literally melted in my mouth. Every bite was delectable. This was truly one of the best dates that my husband and I have ever had.

After dinner, the crack of breaking through the shimmering, caramelized sugar crust to get to the weightless cream of my Tahitian vanilla bean crème brûlée​ was the grand finale. How apropos that the song, “Unforgettable,” was playing as we headed out for a walk on the beach.

Strolling down the coastline onto Stearns Wharf was a nice touch. It is a beautiful sight to see the boats in the harbor in the moonlight.

I’ve always believed that we all need fun things to do, someone to love and something to look forward to. That hat trick isn’t going to happen unless we take time to clear our mind, prioritize and nurture the relationships we’ve chosen.

I want an every day romance. How about you?

Toma Restaurant & Bar is open from 5 to 10 p.m. daily. Click here for more information, or call 805.962.0777.

— Donna Polizzi is a regional travel expert and founder of Keys to the Coast, a free Central Coast travel resource providing honest recommendations on the best places that locals want to go. She can be contacted at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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