Scopa | Healdsburg

Ari Rosen's critically-acclaimed Healdsburg Italian restaurant is every bit as good as you'd think

Scopa Restaurant Healdsburg
Scopa Restaurant Healdsburg

The name of Ari Rosen’s casual Italian eatery, Scopa, refers to an ancient Italian card game that, like poker,  requires plenty of bluffing, banter, booze and snacks to be properly played. Deal me in.
Inside Scopa, the vibe is extremely casual, with smiling, t-shirted waitrons,  stemware only by request (in Healdsburg? shocking!), a reasonably-priced wine lists that hovers mostly in the 30-40 range and relaxed dishes that beg for bread-sopping and cross-table sharing. Shoebox-sized, there are only a handful of tables, smushed together bistro-style along the right wall; several tall bar tables for two are along the left.
Start with Larry Pacini’s house-made Ciabatta ($2), which you’ll gladly use in place of a fork, napkin or spoon throughout the meal. This is serious soaking bread. The Tonno Del Chianti ($8) (is cold, shredded pork that’s been preserved in oil, “tuna style”. Served up with a tangy balsamic fig jam and greens, it’s a refreshing appetizer for two. The real thriller, however, is the burrata ($9) that nearly brought me to tears. Some of you may know of my absolutely ridiculous passion for mozzarella. I’ve spent years tracking the perfect ball. I’ve still never found it. This burrata, made by a couple in San Diego, is an insane little orb of tender mozzarella with a soft, creamy middle that would make an Oreo blush in shame and about as close (to perfection as I’ve found stateside.
Also on the Antipasti menu are chile-braised tripe ($7.50), grilled fontina cheese and spicy meatballs with smoked mozzarella.The one major stinker of the night was finding out the house-made gnocchi with Napolitano meat ragu ($16) was sold out. The Orecchiette ((literally “little ears”, $16) was a pale consolation, studded with (turnip greens, chili flakes and ricotta. Not that it was bad. It just wasn’t as good as the rest of the meal. I still licked the bowl clean (while thinking about how much I wished
I had a plate of fresh ravioli (stuffed with ricotta, nettles and covered in brown butter sage sauce (($16). The stuffed calamari ($16) are four(ish) torpedos of squid stuffed with caper berries and olives and grilled with Yukon Gold potatoes.The entrees are small, so there’s no shame in ordering a couple if you’re really hungry. Among the choices: pizza topped with green garlic, sausage and cheese ($15), tomato-braised chicken with polenta ($17) and grilled rack of lamb with fava beens, spring leeks and backed ricotta ($22). Desserts thus far are simple affairs, the best being a board of cheese, pear and (honey to go with your French press coffee. And, despite the beckoning of summer, outdoor seating at Scopa is so-far just a single table squeezed against the building. With so little space inside, you’ll feel a little squeezed regardless.
The sheer press of humanity, clinking glasses and wafts of garlic and olive oil can make for a heady experience. Embrace it. And feel yourself embraced back by the warmth, honest cooking and impromptu camaraderie of Scopa. It’s in the cards.
Scopa: 109A Plaza St, (Healdsburg, 707.433.5282. Reservations recommended. Open for dinner (Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30 to 10 pm.


One thought on “Scopa | Healdsburg

  1. dluv (01/07/2008 10:56:36 PM)
    Comment: service– a bit slow, but super busy every day. My main complaint– buratta needs lots of salt, evo, and more crostini. overall great addition to htown. gnocchi– right up my alley. I’ll be back.
    Posted By: Karen (13/06/2008 8:34:03 AM)
    Comment: Let me say…you have to go! Your taste buds will thank you. Amazing appetizers, Grilled Fontina Cheese, Larry’s bread,Burata, it was a party in my mouth! The Gnocchi melts in your mouth. So many amazing choices, and top it off with the chocolate souffle. Service is friendly and comfortable. Just go!!! (dont forget to make reservations)
    Posted By: the galloping gourmet (30/05/2008 1:42:02 AM)
    Comment: Dined here for the first time last Friday night. There were one or two standout dishes on the menu, but overall I wasn’t terribly impressed. The service needs a major overhaul!
    Posted By: Heather BiteClub (21/05/2008 3:02:18 PM)
    Comment: Hey BiteClubbers If you’re checking the site, don’t give up hope. All of the bloggers are temporarily locked out due to some tech issues with the site changeover. But we’re assured we’ll be back soon. Stay tuned!
    Posted By: Wojamo (19/05/2008 3:22:59 PM)
    Comment: Hey, Tracey- ever been to Ca’Bianca on 2nd street in SR? It’s beautiful, nice and very romantic. Plus, they serve dinner tonight (Monday). We’ve gone there for a few different special occasions.
    Posted By: TRACEY (19/05/2008 12:50:14 PM)
    Comment: Heather, I need you help! Its monday and my anniversary. Where can we go and have a great dinner? Thanks, Tracey
    Posted By: Michelle (14/05/2008 8:53:22 PM)
    Comment: Wojamo.. you are so clever, maybe we should go into a joint-venture? LOL However, any restaurant of mine would have to include at least knife…for the obvious reason :o) (a misbehaving hubby that may need a quick jab) the “under-the-table-pinch doesn’t work anymore! Sooo laughing :o)
    Posted By: Wojamo (14/05/2008 4:36:25 PM)
    Comment: Don’t be so hard on yourself, Michelle. Besides- you actually may be onto something there- a nice restaurant with no silverware. Kind of a “Wine Country Cuisine Meets Medieval Times” theme. Of course, this couldn’t work for Scopa. Not enough room in there for a proper jousting contest!
    Posted By: Michelle (14/05/2008 4:07:40 PM)
    Comment: Mike…”Michelle, stemware is not silverware”. I am sooo sorry, you’re right.. I must have zoned out or something, but you’re right I confused the two..UGHH (Maybe too much vino that night??) :o)
    Posted By: Mike (13/05/2008 1:53:59 PM)
    Comment: I think they use tumblers for wine glasses like they do in Northern Italy. It fits the casual Italian theme. Michelle, stemware is not silverware. And Burrata is not ordinary mozzarella. It is a fresh mozzarella ball stuffed with cheese curd, cream, and sometimes butter that all spills out when the ball is cut into. Kudzu is right, it doesn’t last more than 24 – 48 hrs.
    Posted By: Vince (13/05/2008 1:41:08 PM)
    Comment: The TraVigne burrata I believe Nancy is talking about is now at Rosso(made by Chef John Franchetti) and it is amazing. I’m excited to try Scopa’s, too! Yumm.
    Posted By: kudzu (13/05/2008 1:25:10 PM)
    Comment: Hey — go to Poggio in Sausalito where the burata is housemade by chef Peter McNee. Nobody is meant to eat burata that is more than 24 hours old, if you believe Italian cheeselovers.
    Posted By: Nancy (13/05/2008 1:12:26 PM)
    Comment: It’s not mozzarella unless you’ve had the one from TraVigne in St. Helena.. now that took my breath away.. try it.
    Posted By: Michelle (13/05/2008 1:09:18 PM)
    Comment: Confuzled here.. NO STEMWARE? At all? Nada? WHY??? “Finger food” averaging $15.00 per dish is too much mulah!
    Posted By: Mark (13/05/2008 12:49:20 PM)
    Comment: Sounds good but I think ordering 2 $15+ entrees might be a bit steep for normal people. By the way have you checked out the mozzarella di bufala that they have at Traverso’s? Atleast they did a while back. Definetly great for cheese fiends!

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