Big fat openings

A bevy of new restaurants ring in the New Year, starting with the official opening of Stark’s Steakhouse Thursday (Jan. 10) after it’s preview party on Dec. 31. The restaurant is targeted to a “young, urban audience” (in Santa Rosa?). The focus is on dry-aged steaks and grass-fed beef with a pedigree. In addition to steaks, the meat-centric menu is set to include specials like calves liver and onions, short ribs, Dover sole with meyer lemon marmalade, Berkshire pork and (ohmygod!) steak frites cooked in duck fat. Can I hear an amen?

Lunch (which starts on the 21st) will focus on “build your own burgers” including a lamb burger with cucumber raita, ahi tuna burger with pickled ginger and spicy mustard and veal burger with fried sage, pancetta and fontina. Yum.

Headed up by Mark and Terri Stark (of Willi’s Wine Bar fame), odds are good that the restaurant will deliver. The restaurant is open (starting late January) Monday through Friday for lunch, 11:30am to 2:30 pm; dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5pm to 9pm and Friday and Saturday dinners until 10pm. 521 Adams St., Santa Rosa (the former Michele’s).

Elsewhere, Petaluma continues its foodie bonanza with several new restaurants. Flippers officially opens today at the former Waterfront Grill in the Golden Eagle Shopping Center. A SF-transplant, the menu focuses on burgers and–if its other restaurants are any indication–a brisk brunch biz. My question: How does that bode for nearby Dempsey’s, the defacto burger king of P-town? Time will tell, but it’s going to take some serious burger magic to wrestle away my loyalty.

Also new: Viva Cocolat is in the works at 110 Petaluma Blvd, a chocolate and dessert spot; burger and breakfast noshery Blu (140 2nd St., Petaluma), owned by the Sugo clan, has opened to some negative buzz from my P-town connections; Walnut Park Grill, a walk-up affair is serving up Niman Ranch burgers and sweet potato fries at 131 4th St; and Chopstix, at 212 Western Ave., is bringing a new twist on pan-Asian to the area.

So, the big question is, how will all of these new restaurants survive? Check out a thoughtful piece that recently ran on asking just that. The answer is simply that they won’t. Survival of the fittest, baby.