Nestled in a tiny storefront on Balboa Island is a charming, romantic little bistro called Pas.tu, which means "treasure box" in Persian. A treasure box it is, with its candle-lit atmosphere, the sound of trickling water from the fountain on the terrace and the wrought-iron grillwork of the entryway secluding this little gem from the hustle and bustle of the street. All this and the tastefully appointed décor with crisp white linens combine to make it a delightful place to dine.
The menu features a mixture of classic dishes from Persian, French, Italian and California cuisines. For a starter, a popular choice is the prosciutto-wrapped shrimp with tomato, mozzarella and basil. The combination appetizer plate gives you a chance to sample three Middle Eastern standards: hummus, grape leaves and tzatziki. A basket of warm pita and crunchy French baguette gave us a choice of "scoops" for the two dips. The hummus was presented in the shape of a heart and it was easy to love. It was delicately flavored and smooth-textured with a nice undertone of sesame. It definitely had its own unique character, as did the grape leaves.