Third Place – Surla’s in Modesto
John Surla opened this restaurant about 4 years ago in the old Hazel’s location, and we have been eating there regularly ever since. This is the perfect restaurant, it has a large parking lot, the servers are all friendly and are all excellent at their jobs, and, of course, the food is just fabulous. It is Asian fusion with some Italian and French thrown in, and everything that I have eaten there has been wonderful, although once I got the risotto, I haven’t ordered anything else. This is the best risotto I have ever eaten, and it is different every time – I have eaten many different types of seafood risotto, vegetarian, and (my favorite) tri tip. In addition to the fish or meat, it has lots of seasonal veggies and a glaze drizzled over the top.
And, of course, the bread is great. This is a picture from a lunch we had there, the slices in the middle are the best, and at dinner, you get a piece of about 6 or 7 slices of this bread with olive oil drizzled over it. It has herbs of some kind (rosemary and something else) in it, and it tastes freshly baked. It is always fresh and good, and you would think that bread this good would be number one, but believe it or not, there are a couple of places in the valley that have bread that is even better.