Inviting courtyard – Santa Barbara News-Press

S.Y. Kitchen upgrades outdoor dining area

S.Y. Kitchen in Santa Ynez now has a newly reconfigured back courtyard.

Outdoor dining has long been a favorite pastime in the Santa Ynez Valley, something that S.Y. Kitchen co-owner and executive chef Luca Crestanelli has witnessed since he first opened shop in April 2013.

While his restaurant has always featured a picturesque patio lining its façade, it is now home to a newly reconfigured back courtyard.

Construction began in April 2021 with a floor-to-ceiling overhaul of the additional outdoor dining area. 

Hanging potted plants add to the now-more-secluded farmhouse aesthetic.

Concrete bricks have replaced the formerly unpaved gravel flooring, and above, wood beams and bamboo stalks form a shady spot for lunch and early dinner guests.

Hanging potted plants and strings of lights add to the now-more-secluded farmhouse aesthetic. 

Open for restaurant guest dining, the courtyard is also available for private events.

The retooled outdoor setting has expanded S.Y. Kitchen’s alfresco dining capacity and added shade — and more ambience  — to what was originally an exposed seating area.

The restaurant’s new feature is a welcome addition as diners continue to request outdoor seating.

“As we approached our eighth anniversary, we felt that a slight update to some of the spaces might have been in order,” Chef Crestanelli told the News-Press. “As a restaurant, S.Y. Kitchen is ever-evolving and always attempting to find ways to make diners feel welcome. The reimagined rear courtyard is an extension of S.Y. Kitchen’s design ethos. We want this space to feel more like someone’s wine country home than a restaurant. 

“We were fortunate to have the outdoor areas made available to us through the pandemic, but we were definitely feeling the need to build a more-lasting, pleasing environment for outdoor dining, which is most likely here to stay for some time.”

S.Y. Kitchen was created and developed by Toscana, Bar Toscana owners, Kathie and Mike Gordon, along with Chef Crestanelli.

The Santa Barbara County wine country restaurant and bar is known for its house-made pastas — all made by hand using organic flour, organic durum wheat semolina and farm-fresh eggs. The restaurant also is recognized for its wood-fired pizzas as well as its wine country takes on Italian classics such as Wagyu meatballs or warm octopus salad.

S.Y. Kitchen’s cocktails, crafted by long-time S.Y. Kitchen family member Marcial Ordaz, are joined by a wine list of Santa Barbara County selections as well as an international roster of world-class wines.

The restaurant’s interior, which has been described as “a California version of a little farmhouse” boasts multiple dining areas: the front room or bar, the porch, which is enclosed, and the dining room, which is available for private parties.

In September 2020, S.Y. Kitchen welcomed its Santa Ynez Valley restaurant sibling, Nella Kitchen & Bar.

The new venture in the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn in Los Olivos features all-day dining with starters and salads, house-made pasta, meat, fish and shellfish entrées and a spotlight on the restaurant’s seasonal Roman pinsas, cocktails and international wine list.

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S.Y. Kitchen, 1110 Faraday St. in Santa Ynez, is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily and for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 

For reservations, call 805-691-9794 or visit to reserve online through OpenTable.