Dining Out

Choice restaurants for the blooming spring season.

Alexander’s at the Timber Cove Inn, Timber Cove, 707-847-3231, timbercoveinn.com. The restaurant at the old Timber Cove Inn has been cleaned up, given a makeover and is now well worth a stop for breakfast, lunch or dinner, all served daily. The views of the ocean, rocks and land forms around the crescent beach at Timber Cove are gorgeous. The food is classic California-American with nods to Canada, Mexico, Europe, Polynesia and the Far East. Stick with the basics and you won’t go wrong: steaks, ribs, fish and fowl. There is a good wine list of Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley wines. Reviewed 7/29/12. $$-$$$$

Baci Cafe & Wine Bar, 336 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-433-8111, bacicafeandwinebar.com. Classic Italian dishes, many of them from northern Italy, are expertly prepared by Shari Sarabi, who is originally from Iran but cooks as though he hails from Milan. A large wood-fired oven turns out some of the best pizza in Sonoma County. The sauce Bolognese is the real thing, and there’s tiramisu and panna cotta for dessert. The wine list features wines from Italy and the Healdsburg area. Reviewed 12/1/13. $$$

Belly Left Coast Kitchen & Tap Room, 523 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, 707-526-5787, belly707.com. Belly raises the bar for gastropubs in the North Bay, with wonderfully flavorful renditions of staples such as pizzas, burgers, steaks, barbecued pulled pork, crab cakes, salads and more. Chef Gray Rollin has been the tour chef for many popular music acts, and you can imagine band members appreciating his way with comfort food. Twenty-six beers on tap and 26 more by the bottle offer extensive choices for ways to wet your whistle and whet your appetite. Reviewed 4/28/13. $-$$

The Big 3, 100 Boyes Blvd., Sonoma, 707-938-9000, ext. 2410, fairmont.com/sonoma/dining/the-big-3. This is the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn’s casual dining spot, and a place renowned for its great breakfasts (It serves lunch and dinner, too). A recently installed wood-burning oven turns out excellent pizzas. There’s a wine bar for sampling Sonoma Valley wines by the glass. As it is part of the SMI hotel and spa complex, dinner entrees are pricey. The fare is all-American: meatloaf, baby back ribs, New York steak, fish and chicken. Reviewed 11/4/12. $$$-$$$$

Bistro 29, 620 Fifth St., Santa Rosa, 707-546-2929, bistro29.com. We’re lucky to have a restaurant in our area that serves the food of Brittany in northwestern France. The cuisine features beautiful buckwheat crepes, both savory and sweet, with myriad choices of fillings. Brittany is known for its excellent chicken and seafood, and chef Brian Anderson makes delicious entrees with locally sourced versions of both. Great wine list of French and local wines, too. Reviewed 5/19/13. $$$

Bistro Des Copains, 3782 Bohemian Highway, Occidental, 707-874-2436, bistrodescopains.com. This very authentic Provençal-style bistro in the charming village of Occidental is the kind of place that a tourist, stumbling upon it, would write home about. Real-deal onion soup, raclette melted cheese, feuilleté of escargot, great pissaladière, mushroom crème brulée, braised rabbit in mustard sauce, steak frites with sauce Béarnaise, and so much more. Reviewed 3/17/13. $$-$$$$

Café Lucia, 235 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, Suite 105, 707-431-1113, cafelucia.net. The same highly flavored Portuguese food that has made LaSalette such a hit over the years in Sonoma is now available in Healdsburg. The kitchen turns out dishes created by executive chef Manuel Azevedo, and his sister, Lucia, hosts and runs the business. The siblings are co-owners. It’s a bright and tasty addition to Healdsburg’s already-superior food scene. The caldo verde is perfect, seafood stew is terrific, and all the entrees shimmer with intense flavor. Reviewed 1/20/13. $$$

Campo Fina, 330 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-395-4640, campo-fina.com. With the addition of Campo Fina to Scopa, his other restaurant, chef Ari Rosen has given Healdsburg the Italian restaurants this destination food-and-wine town deserves. At the center of Campo Fina is a wood-fired oven and its incredibly good pizzas. Lots of small plates are offered. The dishes are classic in their devotion to the Italian food sensibility but also innovative. Great wine list. Highly recommended. Reviewed 8/26/12. $$

Canneti Roadhouse, 6675 Front St., Forestville, 707-887-2232, cannetirestaurant.com. Canneti Roadhouse primarily serves Tuscan food that chef/owner Francesco Torre learned to love as a child in Italy. That means a local version of the Mediterranean diet, with lots of fresh vegetables, olive oil, bread and meat (especially game). A four-course seasonal Tuscan tasting menu is a good bet, and each course can be paired with wine. During clement weather, there’s alfresco dining out back. Reviewed 5/26/13. $$$-$$$$

Catelli’s, 21047 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville, 707-857-3471, mycatellis.com. Nick and Domenica Catelli, grandchildren of the original owners, have brought Catelli’s restaurant back to life and supercharged it with good feelings and the old Italian-American favorites made with locally grown, organic ingredients. The result? Catelli’s is better than ever. It even has Kitty’s bread pudding on the menu, a staple for more than 30 years at the restaurant’s previous incarnation. Great list of local wines. Reviewed 5/6/12. $$-$$$$

Chalkboard, 29 North St., Healdsburg, 707-473-8030, chalkboardhealdsburg.com. This hideout for tired tourists and thirsty, hungry locals is a refreshing break from the insistent gentrification going on around it in Healdsburg. A full bar offers cocktails in a comfy setting, and the rustic décor encourages patrons to relax. The small-plate dishes of chef Shane McAnelly are modestly priced and tasty, and include the best sliders in town, raw items, house-made pastas and seafood. Reviewed 6/23/13. $$

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 Sonoma County’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. All these features make Flavor the go-to place for locals and wise visitors. Reviewed 12/8/13. $-$$$$

El Dorado Kitchen, 405 First St. W., Sonoma, 707-996-3030, eldoradosonoma.com. The food can be superb here, although prices are high. Roast chicken? Wonderful. Fresh garden salads? Great. All are supported by an excellent wine list. The outdoor patio is a lovely setting during clement weather. Reviewed 1/8/12. $$$$

The Fig Café, 13690 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, 707-938-2130, thefigcafe.com. Here is a modest restaurant that’s usually full of happy customers because the food is good, there’s no corkage on wines brought in, and it doesn’t take reservations. A word to the wise: Don’t miss the Meyer lemon cheesecake with huckleberry compote. There are thin-crust pizzas, steaming bowls of plump mussels, a good pot roast plate, grilled cheese sandwiches, soups, salads and a lot more. Reviewed 4/29/12. $$-$$$

French Blue, 1429 Main St., St. Helena, 707-968-9200, frenchbluenapa.com. Here’s a comfortable refuge from the hustle and bustle of Napa Valley. Seating in the expansive dining room is first come, first served. The food is refined bistro fare with a gorgeous blue cheese burger, pasta, mussels, fish, steak, an interesting array of appetizers and a full bar. The same menu is offered all day, and the restaurant is open until 11 p.m. Comfy chairs and banquettes with lots of pillows add to the relaxing vibe. Reviewed 7/1/12. $$

Glen Ellen Star, 13648 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, 707-343-1384, glenellenstar.com. Chef Ari Weiswasser selects culinary ideas from around the world and uses them to make innovative and delicious versions of meat and vegetable dishes in his wood-fired oven. The broad pods of Romano beans in a bacon and brown sugar marmalade is an example, as are roasted lamb meatballs served with couscous and vegetable soffrito. A good wine list is reasonably priced. There are house-made ice creams for dessert. Reviewed 6/24/12. $-$$$

Goose & Gander, 1245 Spring St., St. Helena, 707-967-8779, goosegander.com. Here’s gastropub cooking done right, and for reasonable prices given that it’s in the hub of Napa Valley. Choose from a wide variety of interesting appetizers, including
really delicious meatballs, scrumptious wood-grilled prawns in a piperade and roasted bone marrow. There is an incredibly good tomato soup, and main plates feature seared California halibut, house-made fettucini and flatiron steak. A superb wine list completes the picture. Reviewed 6/17/12. $$-$$$$

Jacinto’s Kitchen “Pot of Flavors,” 6576 Oakmont Drive, Santa Rosa, 707-537-8933, jacintoskitchen.com. Erasto and Pablo Jacinto worked for years at some of Napa Valley’s best restaurants, and now have a place of their own in Oakmont in eastern Santa Rosa, where they brilliantly recreate the Mexican dishes they grew up with in Oaxaca. The chile rellenos, sweet-corn tamales and especially the from-scratch mole sauce are perfect evocations of those dishes. Reviewed 4/1/12. $$

Lucy Restaurant & Bar, 6526 Yount St., Yountville, 707-204-6030, bar-dessono.com. The Bardessono Hotel is one of the greenest hotels in the country, and Lucy, its restaurant serving California cuisine, relies on produce from Lucy’s Garden, right outside the kitchen door. The home-grown ingredients in every dish are marked on the menu with a symbol. Most of the items can be purchased as a small or large plate. The food is carefully prepared and the wine list is superb. Reviewed 3/25/12. $$-$$$$

630 Park Steakhouse, at the Graton Resort & Casino, 630 Park Court, Rohnert Park, 707-588-7115, gratonresortcasino.com/dining/casual-dining. Here is a big-time, casino-style steakhouse. A 42-ounce prime T-bone for two is $120, a 20-ounce rib eye for one is $54, and filet mignons start at $43 for the “petite.” The meat is as terrific as the prices, and the kitchen also serves up chicken and seafood, such as the 28-ounce Northern Australian lobster tail for $149. Side dishes of vegetables, potatoes, and comfort foods like mac and cheese, run approximately $10 extra each. You only live once. Reviewed 12/29/13. $$$$

Speakeasy, 139 Petaluma Blvd. N., Suite B, Petaluma, 707-776-4631, speakeasypetaluma.com. One of the chief virtues of Speakeasy is that it stays open for food and drink until 2 a.m. every day. Chef Dindo Borja, originally from Guam, prepares an eclectic mix of sandwiches, tacos and tapas with influences from all over the Pacific. The Taco Trio is a winner: pork belly, chicken and salmon tacos are plenty for a meal. Yes, there’s beer and wine, but none of the hard stuff. Reviewed 5/12/13. $-$$

Tony’s of North Beach, at the Graton Resort & Casino, 630 Park Court, Rohnert Park, 707-586-0777. gratonresortcasino.com/dining/casual-dining. Pizza superstar Tony Gemignani, who owns a handful of Italian restaurants in the Bay Area, added this sit-down pizza parlor to his holdings in late 2013. It’s a great place to take a break from the noisy casino floor, and the pizzas — including Neapolitan, Sicilian, Roman, Italian-American, New York and Californian — are delicious and classic examples of their styles. A fine wine list, too. Reviewed 12/15/13. $$-$$$$

Woodfour Brewing Company, 6780 Depot St., Sebastopol (in The Barlow), 707-823-3144, woodfourbrewing.com. It’s just what you want in a restaurant — something new and different. The brewery makes a range of distinctive beers and ales and has a cupboard full of bottled beers from all over the world. The food is as ingenious as the beers, and beautifully displayed on the plates. It shows great creativity on the part of the chefs, as they combine unlikely ingredients into exceptionally delicious dishes. Reviewed 9/8/13. $$