Plainly put, crostini ("little toasts") are thin slices of baguette, kissed with olive oil, sprinkled with pepper and salt, toasted and then topped with, well, just about anything - cheese, bell pepper, capers, salami, anchovy, shrimp, pate or any combination you can conjure.
Bruschetta ("to roast over coals") are larger slices of garlic-and-oil-rubbed bread, which are grilled (ideally) and traditionally topped with a drizzle of olive oil, sliced tomato and fresh basil. Restaurateurs don't stop there, though. You'll find bruschetta topped with everything from goat cheese to caramelized onion
Crostini don't get much better than the version we found at chef Rick Mahan's Waterboy restaurant last Tuesday (pictured). The merging of flavors and textures quickly led us to clear the plate, reminding us of a movie title now at theaters - "Now You See Me." In our case, it was "Now You Don't."
The six crostini were topped with three spreads - roasted eggplant, a tapenade of green and black olives, and white bean with sweet pepper. Pecorino cheese and olive oil nicely finished the dish.
Get it for $8 at Waterboy, 2000 Capitol Ave., Sacramento; (916) 498-9891, www.waterboyrestaurant.com.
P.S.: The menu is seasonal, so keep an eye out for an appetizer that comes and goes, described as "fish sticks" but so much more.