Wood oven-roasted shellfish at the Stars Realigned dinner at EPIC Roasthouse. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Howdy, folks. Happy Friday. This morning, as I was running stairs in misty Alamo Square and attempting to burn off at least five bites of the decadent SF Chefs: Dinner Party Project—Stars Realigned dinner I attended last night at EPIC Roasthouse (and maybe some of the Champagne and oysters I had at Waterbar), I was wondering how the hell am I going to get all my work done today? I’m cranking against some big deadlines—and let’s just say someone barely made it home before turning into a pumpkin last night (right at 11:59pm, I laughed).
I’ll be posting a recap of last night’s very special meal on 7x7.com very soon (check out upcoming Dinner Party Project and preview events here). Fortunately 707 correspondent Heather Irwin has some juicy news for you today in 707 Scout.
But I did want to share some exciting news with you today: starting on Monday, I am partnering with Gilt City for a couple “Insider” weeks of tablehopper-curated experiences and offerings! Yup, we’re going to be featuring some of my favorite restaurants, places, and things, like Contigo, Deli Board, Namu Gaji, and Ragazza, along with Public Bikes and Whole Body Tonic. Deals, baby, deals!
Are you a Gilt City subscriber? If not, click here to sign up for the San Francisco edition (it’s free) so you can view and access all these special tablehopper Insider sales next week. Look for more tablehopper picks in July as well! I’m so fired up to be highlighting so many of my favorite local businesses, I hope you dig it.
And I also have a link to my weekly You Gotta Eat This segment for KGO Radio: this week I featured the Cambodian place, Angkor Borei, in Bernal. Listen in here. Lastly, did you have a chance to check out my first piece for 7x7 magazine on the new generation of local chefs cooking with soul? It was one of my favorite articles I have written in a while.
Okay, signing off. Have a great weekend full of PRIDE.
By 707 correspondent Heather Irwin.
Healdsburg loves a restaurant opening. Even more so when it includes a bocce court, Mugnaini pizza oven, and chef Ari Rosen.
The food, of course, is Italian, but focused around small plates and pizzas rather than the heartier pastas and entrées of his original restaurant. Design-wise, the big reveal is a large covered patio that’s big enough for a bocce court, 65 seats (including a large family table), a wood-fired pizza oven, a food-prep “shack,” and a bar. Even locals familiar with the space in previous iterations gasped at the transformation. “I didn’t even know this space was back here,” was heard often. Inside are reclaimed fixtures, rough brick walls, and cozy red banquettes.
On the menu are “Cichetti” (little bites), “Forno a Legno” (wood oven), and “Antipasti.” Start at the top and work your way down the list, nibbling here and there and ordering as you go. Carried over from Scopa is Larry Pacini’s ciabatta bread and DCV EVOO ($3.50), which is exactly what ciabatta should be, with a crackling crust and a moist, chewy interior. Honey-roasted carrots with coriander and bread crumbs ($6.50) are sweet, almost to a fault, but each bite yields a perfect texture. Chef de cuisine Jamil Peden’s detailed touches are evident throughout the menu.
Wood-oven pizzas are all the rage in Wine Country, and there are as many styles as there are Mugnaini ovens dotting the vineyards. Too often crusts get blistered and burnt, and carbon is only delicious on campfire marshmallows. Here, simple mushroom, sausage, or margheritas ($12.50-$15.50) get the kiss of the oven without being smothered.
Small plates are made for sharing, and are mostly six- to eight-bite portions. Best bets: smooth chicken liver pâté (served in a mason jar) with peach relish and grilled bread ($8.50); charred octopus with wild chicory and potatoes ($11.50); and yellowfin tuna crudo ($13.50) served with tangy yogurt, fennel, radishes, and sea beans. If you’ve ever questioned dairy with fish, the spritz of lemon and spanking-fresh flavors in this dish will realign that thinking.
The best desserts are simple affairs, a brilliant buttermilk panna cotta with crumbles of biscotti, torn basil, and cherries; or sliced Dry Creek peaches in zinfandel.
The wine list runs two pages, well curated with ten by-the-glass sips and a full page of Sonoma County and Italian reds. Wine cocktails and beer are also available.
If there’s a complaint, it’s only perhaps that the outdoor chairs aren’t made for American derrieres, pinching and squeezing in all the wrong places. The patio can get boisterous with kids and families enjoying themselves—which is kind of the whole point of this übercasual eatery. So if you’re looking for a quiet rendezvous, update your expectations.
Though the motto “When you’re here, you’re family” may belong to an Italian megachain that dreams it had the authenticity of Campo Fina, it certainly fits. So pull up a chair, grab a glass of chianti, and mangia, mangia! Open for dinner daily at 5:30pm. 330 Healdsburg Ave. at North St., Healdsburg, 707-395-4640.
It’s a trucking weekend at the former INFINEON RACEWAY as mobile kitchens from around the Bay Area hit the tracks. Throughout the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series trucks including AWFUL FALAFEL, MARK’S THE SPOT, SIFT CUPCAKES, STREET EATZ and CHEESE GONE WILD will be serving up everything from wood-fired pizza to hand-rolled sushi. Highway 121 and Sears Point Road, Sonoma.