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Zibibbo restaurant shutters after 17 years in downtown Palo Alto

Upscale Mediterranean restaurant closure signals end of an era

Longtime Palo Alto restaurant Zibibbo has shuttered after 17 years, owner Rowena Wu confirmed Wednesday.

"Zibibbo has closed for good," she said, refusing to comment further.

Jose Sandoval, a San Jose resident who's been a cook at the restaurant for five years, said he was told last Friday that the restaurant was closing. He said the restaurant filled 80 reservations that night and had 85 more on Saturday, but those were cancelled.

The upscale Mediterranean restaurant, housed in a 12,000-square-foot yellow Victorian house at 430 Kipling St., opened in 1997. The huge space, with several dining rooms, actually spans from Kipling to Waverley Street another block over.

Zibibbo is the name of a grape used in Italy's regional dessert wines. A Weekly review from the year it opened hailed the restaurant as setting a "new standard for dining in downtown Palo Alto." It mentioned plates like dried fruit and Swiss chard fritters, fresh seafood platters, pork tenderloin, sand dabs, half-ears of corn with red pepper-butter served with "grilled husks and all."

A June 2010 review revisiting the restaurant noted that Zibibbo had won the Wine Spectator magazine's prestigious Best of Award of Excellence. The award is the second of three tiers offered by the magazine and is bestowed on restaurants with wine lists that offer 400 or more selections, "along with superior presentation, and display either vintage depth, with several vertical offerings of top wines, or excellent breadth across several wine regions," the magazine's website says.

In January 2012, Zibibbo hosted vice-president Joe Biden and a group of tech leaders for a dinner.

The Palo Alto restaurant was the sister restaurant to Wu's Restaurant LuLu in San Francisco, which is still open.

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