Due Dieci Cucina Italiana debuts at Toll House Hotel

With the opening of Due Dieci, a new Italian-themed restaurant at the Toll House, there’s a new reason to revisit a spot that was a rather lively locals gathering point a few hotel iterations ago.

We caught up with Nikos Kalouris, founder and manager of Dio Deka and now Due Dieci Cucina Italiana, to get the backstory on the Panlemonium Group’s latest venture, which opened at the end of July. A formal grand opening is planned for sometime this fall.

Dio Deka is the Greek translation of that restaurant’s address in the Los Gatos Hotel at 210 E. Main St. The new restaurant, Kalouris says, required a new translation.

“When we were searching for a name for our new Italian venture, we just translated our Greek restaurant name to Italian: duedieci, signifying 210 in that language. It helps with brand recognition and also signifies continuity with our sister Greek concept.”

Kalouris says the operators of the Toll House hotel had reached out to them due to their 17-year history at the Hotel Los Gatos. “Negotiations started in 2020, and we signed deal in 2021. We did a remodel of the entire dining room to our specifications.”

They had already brought New Jersey born and Corfu-raised Chef Nikos “Nicko” Moulinos, to be the chef at Dio Deka. His father is Italian, and his culinary training in Greece and at the CIA Hyde Park, followed by work at Boulud Sud, Chef Daniel Boulud’s Mediterranean gem in New York City, helped inform the Italian menu.

Kalouris says Italian is the closest cuisine to Greek. “Our chef already had a background from past experiences in cooking Italian, and the recipes are those of regional Italian tradition revisited with the imagination of our chef. Our goal is to offer recipes that are not found in most traditional Italian restaurants in town.”

Gregarious and confident, yet humble and sincere, Moulinos knows he’s in the spotlight. “With our sister restaurant, Dio Deka, the bar is set high, so we can’t fall short. We must do our due diligence to put our best foot forward, especially here in Los Gatos. We have to meet their high expectations.”

Performing at a high level is second nature to Moulinos, whose fiancé Shelly works with him in the kitchen. He gives great credit to his entire culinary staff, praising their work ethic and their fundamental understanding of the recipes.

“Everything we do is made in house: all the breads, the pastas. We source 90% of what we use locally, but we do import Italian olive oil, prosciutto and aged balsamic from G. Gusti, the oldest producer of aged balsamic in the world, dating back to 1660.”

Asked to name some of his favorite dishes, he points to the caprese for it simplicity and purity of flavors, based on Di Stefano handmade burrata from Pomona, 25-year old balsamic, heirloom tomatoes and arugula from Petaluma, and garnished with Maldon salt. He also recommends the Fettuccine All’aragosta, with butter-poached lobster, Grana Padano, vietti beurre blanc and coriander.

“We do everything methodically, with love behind it,” Moulinos says, adding that the love extends to the front of house. “There is rule of three in restaurants. The first time you come, you are a guest. The second time, you are a friend, and by the third time, family.”

Due Dieci Cucina Italiana at the Toll House Hotel, 140 S. Santa Cruz Ave., is open Tuesday-Saturday, 5-9 p.m., for dinner and cocktails, Reservations are strongly recommended to duedieci.com.

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Author: Laura Ness