Dining Out

Archetype, 1429 Main St., St. Helena, 707-968-9200, archetypenapa.com. A spacious, well-designed room and glassed-in porch offer comfortable surroundings for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. The seasonal menu features local, organic salads and tidbits like blinis with burrata. Side dishes are as intriguing as the entrees, including Kennebec fries and curried cauliflower gratin. A wood-fire oven gives a smoky flavor to many of the entrees. $$-$$$ Reviewed 11/2/14

Bruno’s on Fourth, 1226 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, 707-569-8222, brunosonfourth.com. The “American comfort food” that chef Rick Bruno serves up is reliably prepared, nicely priced and tasty. There’s a Sunday brunch, kids eat free Tuesday through Thursday at dinner, and there’s a solid lunch menu. Crispy salads stand out, along with meaty dishes such as braised short ribs and roast pork. The short wine list is well-priced. Reviewed 1/26/14. $$-$$$

Burgers & Vine, 400 First St. E., Sonoma, 707-938-7110, burgersandvine.com. The old Sonoma Mission Creamery building is now an up-to-date bar and grill, featuring burgers, brisket, ribs, salads, sandwiches and more. House-brewed beer joins many craft beers on tap. The long bar is made of rescued old-growth redwood. Big-screen TVs shower you with sports, live bands are booked, and the grub is pretty much pub. Reviewed 3/23/14. $$

Café La Haye, 140 E. Napa St., Sonoma, 707-935-5994, cafelahaye.com. Here’s a restaurant that has its act together. Chef Jeffrey Lloyd features a different risotto and pasta dish each night, along with the best roast chicken ever. The vegetables on his plates are not given short shrift, and are cooked with intelligence and care. The appetizers are as carefully prepared as the entrees and uniformly delicious. The wine list is a tour of the region’s best wineries. Reviewed 3/30/14. $$$-$$$$

Central Market, 42 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma, 707-778-9900, centralmarketpetaluma.com. This is a genuine farm-to-table restaurant, as chef Tony Najiola raises pigs, hens and vegetables for the restaurant on his organic farm not far from town. Those pigs become some of the best charcuterie around, and the vegetables are snapping fresh and respected by the cooks. While the menu is local, the wine list is global in scope. Everything is made from scratch daily, even the breads. Reviewed 7/6/14. $$$

Cucina Paradiso, 114 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma, 707-782-1130, cucinaparadisopetaluma.com. The Italian food at Cucina Paradiso has always been good, but since the restaurant’s move to new quarters, it’s great. The style is ristorante rather than trattoria, a little more mid- to northern Italy than southern, with the high quality of the dishes built on the finest ingredients chef Dennis Hernandez can find. Classic veal dishes such as saltimbocca are beautifully prepared and the antipasti are as good as the entrees. Don’t miss the semifreddo for dessert. Reviewed 8/10/14. $$-$$$$

Dry Creek Kitchen, 317 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-431-0330, charliepalmer.com. This is Healdsburg’s classiest restaurant. The cooking is international-Californian, meaning lots of fresh local ingredients handled with sophistication, such as scallops en croute with a black truffle sauce, and house-smoked Liberty duck breast with a confit of duck leg meat and pork belly joining it on the plate. The pastry chef does excellent work with intricate delicacies. There’s a list of more than 500 wines, all from Sonoma County, and there is no corkage fee if you bring a Sonoma County wine of your own. All this glamour is not inexpensive, so be prepared. Reviewed 6/1/14. $$$$

Flavor Bistro, 96 Old Courthouse Square, Santa Rosa, 707-573-9600, flavorbistro.com. In its friendly, unpretentious way, Flavor Bistro is a shining example of the area’s enviable food scene. House-made pastas and pizzas, and meats and vegetables from local organic farms are expertly prepared, and the wine list is excellent. Breakfast is served most days and lunch and dinner every day. Best of all are the modest prices on most dishes. Flavor is a go-to place for locals and wise visitors. Reviewed 12/8/13. $-$$$$

Flipside Steakhouse & Sports Bar, 138 Calistoga Road, Santa Rosa, 707-539-7700, flipsidesteakhouse.com. Two big dining rooms serve up Certified Angus beef as steaks and prime rib, plus chicken, salmon and lots of crowd-pleasing sides — all priced a la carte, steakhouse-style. There are raw oysters and good crab cakes to start and a delicious slice of chocolate cake with raspberry sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream to finish. The adjoining sports bar is two rooms full of 27 huge, flat-screen TVs. Reviewed 3/9/14. $$-$$$$

Gypsy Café, 162 N. Main St., Sebastopol, 707-861-3825, gypsy-cafe.com. The Gypsy Café occupies the spot where the Pine Cone restaurant operated for decades. Dinner is served only on Fridays, but there’s lots to choose from and the dinners are usually well-attended. Chef Martin Maigaard calls his cooking modern comfort food, and so it is, with pot roast, local salmon in season, free-range fried chicken and vegetarian pasta among the dishes. The wine list is small, but from premium local producers. Reviewed 8/3/14 $$-$$$

Harvest Moon Café, 487 First St. W., Sonoma, 707-933-8160, harvestmooncafesonoma.com. The food at Nick and Jen Demarest’s cafe is innovative and always palate-pleasing — not an easy trick to pull off. The menu changes often, sometimes daily, although the rib-eye steak is a constant. Many ingredients are house-made, including the sausage for the chorizo sauté, and the marshmallow fluff for the s’mores. There’s an alfresco patio out back and an excellent wine list. $$$ Reviewed 10/26/14

Heritage Public House, 1901 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-540-0395, heritagepublichousesr.com. This is an ideal place to hang out, sample two dozen beers, ales and ciders from California, and enjoy pub grub that’s a cut above average in provenance and quality. The focus is on good ingredients, and the fare includes fish tacos, a beefy burger, salads, sandwiches, fish and chips and nightly specials. Reviewed 10/6/13. $

Hiro’s Japanese Restaurant, 107 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma, 707-763-2300, hirosrestaurant.com. Hiro’s is an exceptional Japanese restaurant. It goes beyond just fresh and lovely versions of the usual Japanese fare (although it does have them on the menu) to bring true gourmet Japanese cooking to Sonoma, including hard-to-find seafood specialties. From the arty décor to the swift and smiling service, it’s a real pleasure to dine at Hiro’s. Reviewed 8/25/13. $$-$$$

The Kenwood Restaurant, 9900 Highway 12, Kenwood, 707-833-6326, kenwoodrestaurant.com. The focus is on organic meats and vegetables from local farms used in dishes that give a Sonoma twist to sophisticated American cooking. The result is wonderfully flavored food that’s as good for you as it is delicious. The chef will buy a whole carcass and use it in many different recipes. Its farm-to-table cooking in a beautiful Sonoma Valley setting. Reviewed 3/2/14. $$$$

Kettles Vietnamese Bistro, 1202 W. Steele Lane, Santa Rosa, 707-528-3747, kettlesvietnamesebistro.com. Vietnamese restaurants used to be exotic, but this one shows how comfy the cuisine has become in America. Big portions of pretty good food, Vietnamese with some pan-Asian, and reasonable prices make for a winning formula at Kettles, which attracts a lot of families. The pho noodle soups with meat or seafood are particularly good. Reviewed 2/2/14. $-$$

LaSalette, 452 First St. E., Suite H, Sonoma, 707-938-1927, lasalette-restaurant.com. Chef Manuel Azevedo honors his Portuguese heritage by preparing classic and some innovative dishes in the Portuguese style, which means lots of flavor, spicy sausages, fruits de mer and respect for his Azores heritage. And he does it well. Dishes are perfectly cooked, many in the wood-burning oven. The wine list is loaded with Portuguese treasures and the service is snappy. It’s a real treat to dine there. Reviewed 9/7/14. $$$

Lulu’s Kitchen, 1313 Main St., Napa, 258-1313, 1313main.com. The best feature of Lulu’s Kitchen is its wine list. Offerings are not confined to California and include some of the finest wines of the world by the glass, flights and bottle. The small-plate dishes are carefully conceived and expertly prepared. The decor is sophisticated and chic, the service friendly, and the ambiance relaxing. Reviewed 1/12/14. $$-$$$

Luma, 500 First St., Petaluma, 707-658-1940, lumapetaluma.com. A real find, this unpretentious restaurant has a feel-good vibe, great service and contemporary American cooking. Nightly specials might include braised pork ribs or blackened catfish. The regular menu offers ancho- and porcini-seared filet mignon, chicken picadillo and a daily “vegetarian delight,” a tray of wonderfully prepared seasonal fruits and vegetables. The wine list is global and modestly priced. Reviewed 11/3/13. $$$

Marigold Indian Bistro, 7225 Healdsburg Ave., Sebastopol, 707-329-6965, visit on Facebook. Chef Uddab Timilsina makes Indian cuisine exciting, not just because he’s mastered the art of combining spices in intriguing ways, but also because his dishes are made with top-quality ingredients, which gives them the added appeal of freshness and purity of flavor. Along with the usual Indian dishes, he occasionally ventures into less charted territory. The lamb and apricot combination, for instance, is wonderful. $$. Reviewed 11/9/14

M.Y. China, Graton Resort and Casino, 630 Park Court, Rohnert Park, 707-703-1955, tastemychina.com. This is the second of well-known chef Martin Yan’s innovative Chinese restaurants. The restaurant better recreates the actual cuisines of China than do the chop suey and chow mein parlors found across America. Yan and executive chef Tony Wu insist on absolutely fresh vegetables and high quality in other ingredients. Reviewed 1/19/14. $$-$$$$

The Pullman Kitchen, 205 Fifth St., Santa Rosa, 707-545-4300, thepullmankitchensr.com. Executive chef Darren McRonald and chef John Trunk have worked at some of the nation’s finest restaurants, and it shows in the execution of the dishes at their venue in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square district. The menu is full of familiar items such as fish tacos, roast chicken, cheeseburgers, meatballs and so on, but they are all just about perfect versions, including scrumptious desserts. There are unsuspected surprises as well. Reviewed 7/13/14. $$-$$$

Rosso Pizzeria, 53 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa, 707-544-3221, rossopizzeria.com. Rosso calls itself a pizzeria, but it’s a pizzeria-plus. Plusses include antipasti from fried calamari to luscious meatballs and salumi. Salads are cracking fresh. Besides really good, wood-fire pizza, there’s piadini, an Italian flatbread topped with veggies or sweet fruits. Full plates of fried chicken and Venetian-style risotto are expertly done. The wine list is eclectic, and soccer reigns on the TV. Reviewed 6/22/14. $$-$$$

Santé at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, 100 Boyes Blvd., Sonoma, 707-939-2415, fairmont.com/sonoma. The cuisine at this classic restaurant sets the standard for high-quality spa food anywhere in the world. The ingredients are mostly locally sourced and treated with respect so that the basic flavors shine. The chefs use techniques and carefully measured herbs and condiments to glorify the ingredients. Service is impeccable. Luxury doesn’t come cheap, but indulge yourself here. Reviewed 6/16/13. $$$$

Scopa, 109-A Plaza St., Healdsburg, 707-433-5282, scopahealdsburg.com. This red-hot restaurant has a strong influence of southern Italy and food that’s surpassingly delicious. Nonna’s Tomato-Braised Chicken with polenta keeps fans coming back. Chef Ari Rosen’s Tomasso’s Sugo Calabrese is a perfect plate of meat-sauced spaghettini. But this is not Italian-American cooking — it’s full-boat Italian. A fine list of Italian wines lets you pair this food with something from the old country. Reviewed 3/16/14. $$-$$$

Seared, 170 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma, 707-762-5997, petalumaseared.com. It’s mostly a steak house, but the menu is more varied than that, with lots of seafood and a range of good appetizers. The beef tends to be the Japanese breeds, often aged and sometimes grass-fed. The vegetables are handled with care. Chef Joe O’Donnell displays his skill by adding complexity to the food, creating a whirlwind of flavors. The restaurant knocks 25 percent off wine prices on Thursdays. Reviewed 4/6/14. $$-$$$$

Stark’s Steak & Seafood, 521 Adams St., Santa Rosa, 707-546-5100, starkrestaurants.com. Happy hour is a rip-roaring, after-work party most days, but in the quiet confines of the back dining room, the kitchen serves up the county’s best steaks — prime pieces of beef dry-aged for four weeks until they are bovine perfection. Everything is a la carte, so dining here is a pricey experience, but it’s worth it, for you’ll not find better beef and there are excellent seafood dishes. No corkage fee on your first two bottles of wine helps. The sides are hit or miss, but delicious when they hit, such as the tamarind barbecued prawns. Reviewed 2/9/14. $$$$

Swiss Hotel, 18 W. Spain St., Sonoma, 707-938-2884, swisshotelsonoma.com. Construction on the Swiss Hotel’s building was completed in 1840, but the scene here is up to date, especially at the tables bordering the Spain Street sidewalk. The food is Italian-American with straight American comfort food mixed into the menu. It’s not fancy, but it’s good. The bar hasn’t changed much since it was built more than 100 years ago. There’s a lovely patio for dining out back. Reviewed 6/8/14. $$-$$$$

Twisted 2, 29-F Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma, 707-789-9914, twisted2.net. This sweet little place from Dick and Julie Warner serves a prix fixe menu of her masterful kitchen creations with his very educated choices of wines to go with them. There’s an emphasis on very fresh Hawaiian fish such as ono and onaga. The dishes are composed with restraint, allowing the quality of the ingredients to shine. Just hope the soup of the day is Julie’s mole pozole, as rich as a stew, with pulled pork and hominy. The Meyer lemon pudding for dessert is luscious. Reviewed 12/22/13.

Walter Hansel Wine & Bistro, 3535 Guerneville Road, Santa Rosa, 707-546-6462, walterhanselbistro.com. The refurbished room serves as a wine bar for Walter Hansel Winery and a showcase for chef Philippe Colasse’s French cooking. He springs surprises, too, like Peruvian causa and seafood cebiche appetizers. But it’s the French classics that really sing — sous vide chicken with mousseline sauce, perfect Liberty duck rillettes, potato gratin Savoyard, sea bass in beurre blanc, and much more. Reviewed 2/23/14. $$$$

Looking for more things to do in Sonoma County? Click here

Read previous post:
Pizza with a Side of Groove

Music education programs benefit from some good eats.

Close