A dozen new restaurants open

There’s nothing that gets my blood pumping faster than a whiff of new restaurant about to open.
And this fall, there’s plenty to be excited about. From Petaluma to Windsor, at least a dozen new spots have either recently opened or are preparing to start service before the end of the year (most sooner).

You’ll notice that quite a few are scrambling to open in Petaluma by the end of the month for the town’s popular Taste of Petaluma on the 29th (stay tuned for more on this next week)– always a great way to nosh through some of the newcomers and see if they’re worth a trip back.

But that’s hardly the full scoop. Check out all the spots I’m salivating about.

Recently opened
Vino Grigio: Former SF chef Antonio Olivia has taken over 3 Blocks Off, changing up the menu to reflect his passion for authentic Italian cooking with a Slow Food twist. Early reports give high praise to his spot-on style and obsessiveness with getting things just right, and I’m already pretty excited about this opening. Check out the grilled mushrooms (Funghi ai Ferri), roman style cracker crust pizzas, house made gnocchi and veal saltimbocca. Olivia will be serving up a version of his Ravioli Norma (a ricotta filled ravioli with eggplant and goat cheese) for Taste, which I can personally vouch for. 220 Western Ave., Petaluma, 778-8211.

Oteao: Bubble tea finally makes it to the North Bay. Plus, fresh mochi and amazing world-purveyed teas in a shop so funky, it belongs in Manhattan. Or at least SF. Don’t miss the mango bubble, with gooey little tapioca balls you suck through a straw. Also featured at Taste of Petaluma. This is a company to watch, having recently sold their kid-friendly Cuteas line to Williams Sonoma. 151 Second St., Petaluma, 707-781-0657

Jennie Lows: A new–and very purple–outpost for this Marin classic. Homestyle Chinese that’s both familiar and exotic from Asian cooking guru Jennie Low. Devotees especially love her lemon chicken, which has a tart, tangy zip. She’ll be serving up crab puffs and potstickers during Taste. C St. and 2nd, Petaluma, 707.762.6888.

On the horizon
Fregene’s Santa Rosa: Word is this favorite Petaluma pizzeria will open in late October or November in the Mission Center near Pamposh.

UPDATE Chinois: Ume owners are rumored to be putting the finishing touches on a Chinese/Pacific Rim restaurant on Windsor Town Green. Asian food guru Mei Ibach has consulted on the menu. Look for an October opening.

La Dolce Vita: September 21 is slated to be opening day for Sahar Gharai’s new wine lounge, also in Theater Square. She’ll be serving up bruschetta and olive crustini during Taste.

Stout Brothers Irish Pub: Opening has been pushed back to October for this much-anticipated spot in downtown Santa Rosa.

UPDATE Tres Hombres: 60 types of tequila, tacos and other south of the border grub in Petaluma. The spot opens with a full bar and limited menu Sept. 21, full service at the restaurant by Sept. 26.

Peter Lowell’s: Organic pizzas and vegetarian fare in Sebastopol. End of September, early October opening planned.

Stark’s Steakhouse: Word on the street is that Willi’s folks will probably be opening their fifth venture in December, despite a recent press release saying “Fall 2007”.

Blue Burgers: No word on this forthcoming burger and breakfast joint in Petaluma. But after a peek inside, things look at least a couple months out.

Cuban in Sebastopol: Still no word on a rumored Cuban joint in downtown Petaluma. Stay tuned.

Have you heard about anything opening? Suspicious signs in vacant restaurants? Let me know by emailing your tips to biteclub@pressdemo.com