Dustin Valette’s New Passion Project in Healdsburg

Dry Creek Kitchen's Dustin Valette is working on a new restaurant in the former Zin space

Dustin Valette, formerly of Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen will open his own restaurant in Healdsburg

Dustin Valette, formerly of Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen will open his own restaurant in Healdsburg
Dustin Valette, formerly of Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen will open his own restaurant in Healdsburg

New details on Dustin Valette’s yet-unnamed restaurant in Healdsburg.

Partnering with the former Dry Creek Kitchen Chef will be his brother Aaron Garzini, a front-of-house vet with stints at John Ash and Co., SF’s Beetlenut and Francis Ford Coppola’s Rustic. “We dreamed about this when were were little kids playing in the yard,” said Vallette of his 20-plus years of planning a restaurant with his sibling (the two are half-brothers). The boys grew up in the restaurant business in Sonoma County, and will be paying homage to many of their favorite local farmers, winemakers, grape growers and artisans at the yet-to-be-named eatery. Including hand-hewn furniture from a 750-year-old redwood stump from a nearby property. “I bumped into that stump recently and memories came flooding back,” said Valette, of the tree that was milled by his father 35 years ago after it fell.

“Everything in the restaurant will have a story,” said Valette, including the menu. Look for a parade of Sonoma County’s bounty, with a changed-nightly Chef’s Tasting Menu, fresh pastas, local meats, house made charcuterie (Valette’s a well-versed charcuterist), bespoke cheeses from a local cheese maker, and of course, Valette’s signature Scallops en Croute. The vibe will be upscale casual, meaning entrees in the $20-30 range; no white tablecloths, a “clean look with sharp edges” and an extensive wine and cocktail program. The brothers say they’re hoping for a late February 2015 opening.

Of course, there’s always another story behind every restaurant opening and closing: Someone winning and someone losing. For months, news that Valette was looking for a space of his own after six years with Charlie Palmer was one of the worst-kept secrets in Healdsburg. Most bets were on Ralph’s Bistro, so it came as a surprise when Zin’s Jeff and Susan Mall abruptly announced their closing. No one is speaking publicly about the reason behind the couple’s departure, but suffice to say, the restaurant will be much-missed and there’s plenty of push for the Malls to continue cooking for the community. “The spirit of Zin will live on with…Valette,” said the couple. Zin’s last day will be Dec. 30, 2014.


2 thoughts on “Dustin Valette’s New Passion Project in Healdsburg

  1. And what is happening to the only Chinese food in Healdsburg? CK House has been a staple in our community. So now, Bistro Ralph sells out, and now no CK House. Shady, shady, shady. Why would Bistro Ralph want to move to the North-side of town? BR has sold their soul…

    1. Ron, I don’t think it’s Ralph’s fault that the only Chinese place in town is moving. They’re lease was not renewed. If they (CK House) wanted to stay in town, they could move to the old Divine Pizza…it’s for lease. Also Fireside restaurant is for sale.

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