Trendy Q: In Palo Alto, Pasta Q is shedding its traditional trattoria menu for a new image. By about Dec. 10, restaurateur Gianni Chiloiro plans to reopen his space as Figo (the name means "cool" in Italian) and specialize in small plates made with artisanal ingredients, Neapolitan pizzas, cocktails and boutique wines from Italy and California. Joining him in the endeavor will be chef Alessandro Ciaccia (from Italy's food show, "La Prova del Cuoco") and general manager Fabio De Santis (Evvia). Mixologist Carlo Splendorini (Michael Mina Group) created the cocktail menu. Look for such dishes as warm octopus with potatoes and taggiasche olives, shrimp flan with shellfish bisque, gnocchetti with duck ragu, and house-smoked fish. Details: 326 University Ave., Palo Alto. 650-328-4585. Look for the new website soon, too.
Italian coffee and more: New in San Jose is Lavazza Espression, a hip offshoot of the venerable Italian espresso company, which selected Santana Row for its first West Coast location. The coffee menu starts with the classics -- espressos, lattes and cappuccinos -- but quickly veers into creative territory with concoctions such as the Nocciolato, a hot drink of espresso, Nutella, cream and hazelnut chips, and the Monte Rosa, a custard and berry compote laced with espresso. The savory menu runs from appetizers (Sicilian bruschetta) to panini (Parma e mozzarella) to main courses (agnolotti in butter and sage). Details: 300 Santana Row, San Jose. www.lavazzaespression.com.
Ushering in the new: A Dec. 6 Winemaker Dinner will feature Charles Usher Wines, the newest small-lot winery in Saratoga. Ristorante Da Mario has created a menu that will pair with Usher's 2011 Central Coast Chardonnay (zucchini flan), 2010 Placer County Barbera (porcini mushroom lasagna) and 2008 Petit Verdot (braised pork with marsala and apples). For the story on why Loren and Kathleen Zemenick chose the name "Usher" for their winery, go to http://usherwines.com. For dinner reservations ($75), call 408-741-1518 or go to www.ristorantedamario.com.
Send South Bay and Peninsula dining tips to Linda Zavoral at firstname.lastname@example.org.