Italian Restaurant Opening in Sebastopol’s Former Flavor Bistro Space

"I want it to be a neighborhood spot with Italian American food and enjoying a cocktail on the patio," said the new owner.

One of the most common reader questions in recent weeks has been regarding the demise of Sebastopol’s Flavor Bistro (7365 Healdsburg Ave.)

“Really sad that we lost our favorite place to go out and eat. It looked like another place was going to open as they posted something in the window, but now the posting is gone,” wrote Larry.

I’ve finally got an answer to who’s replacing Flavor Bistro — an Italian restaurant called Campanella.

Tom Rutledge of Petaluma’s RDMS Group, a hospitality-focused accounting company, is behind the new trattoria, which is anticipated to open in mid-to-late 2024. Other partners in the project, he said, are “all Bay Area folks.”

Development is in the early stages, so the final details are still blurry, but the concept isn’t.

“This is a love letter to my grandma and the food I ate growing up. That is my happy flavor profile,” said Rutledge, who hails from an Italian-American family in New York and hopes to recapture his family’s immigrant experience.

“I want a place that tastes like home. I guess I’m partially building a place to go eat myself,” he said of dishes such as chicken Parmesan, spaghetti and meatballs, and simple pizzas (a Mugnaini oven is being custom-built).

After recently realizing he had both a gluten and lactose intolerance, Rutledge also plans to bring plenty of plant-forward and gluten-free plates to the table.

“I want it to be a neighborhood spot with Italian American food and enjoying a cocktail on the patio,” he said.

Rutledge has worked in restaurant circles for years as a financial consultant and attended culinary school in San Francisco, but he doesn’t consider himself a chef. That, he said, would be a job for just the right person who will be excited about the kinds of food he’s passionate about.

According to Rutledge, Campanella literally translates to “little bell,” but it encompasses an untranslatable idea of connection within the sound of a town’s bell tower. You’re part of that community if you can hear the bell from your home.