Cafe Citti

In the eternal quest for the latest and greatest, it’s easy to forget about the restaurants that stick it out day after day, year after year, serving up great food. Not the fanciest food or the most innovative. Just food you can count on. Money well spent. Tummies totally satisfied. Places you want to go back repeatedly, but somehow forget about.

I’ve actually been to two spots in the last couple of days that fit the bill. The first, I’ll talk about later this week, but (hint, hint) it’s Indian. The second is one you’ve been chatting up for weeks now, Café Citti.

Entirely unimpressive from the outside, this Kenwood sleeper slips my mind in the winter. Not that it should–here’s a cozy fireplace and plenty of steamy pasta dishes that will warm your cockles year round. But the outdoor patio is such a perfect summer hangout–sipping raspberry lemonade and nibbling insalada Caprese throughout July and August–I tend to whiz by in January and February. Well, that and the fact that the parking lot’s always packed to capacity.

As pretty much anyone who’s been through the Sonoma Valley knows (because we all end up there at some point), Italian’s the name of the game here. Housemade mozzarella, focaccia, pasta and desserts that have a lighter, Northern Italian flare. It’s a combination walk-up and sit-down eatery, think deli meets white napkin service. Somehow it works.

BiteClub’s Mission Caesar brought me around again. Luca’s garlicky Caesar lives up to its billing. And yes, it is that good. Your breath will be flattening co-workers for the remainder of the day, if not the week. There’s a real sardine on top, house-made croutons and crisp lettuce that (thankfully) is tossed and pre-cut. You can argue the authenticity of that amongst yourselves. I’m all for others doing the work for me.

A Caesar alone won’t bring me back, however. The kitchen’s gotta prove its mojo throughout the menu, and Citti does that. Sandwiches (try the tuna, egg, mayo) are epic. Linguine in lemon cream sauce never fails me. And the tiramisu (which I don’t order lightly) is truly worthy of saving room for. No wonder the Michelin Guide loves them.

Oh, and then there’s Joel. You asked, and I found him. He’s the resident red-headed waitron so many of you love. He sends his regards. Albeit a little sheepishly. Say hello next time you’re in.

Which really should be soon. Because Café Citti is forgotten no more.

Café Citti, 9049 Sonoma Hwy./Hwy. 12, Kenwood, (707) 833-2690. Daily 11:00am-3:30pm, 5-8:30pm, Fri-Sat until 9pm. But sheesh, call ahead before you make the drive.