Sebastopol’s Rialto Cinemas Kicks off Limited-Run ‘Dinner and a Movie’ Series

Moviegoers can enjoy a multi-course, gourmet meal before catching a classic film, such as The Godfather II.

Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol is almost as well known for its onsite café as its eclectic, arthouse films. Now, the Sebastopol venue is taking its food-and-films concept to the next level with the “Dinner and a Movie” series.

Kicked off in February with a sold-out showing of the foodie favorite “Big Night,” the events run through October and feature a multi-course, sit-down meal before each movie. Tickets are now on sale for “Big Eden” on April 21, “The Godfather Part II” on June 9, “Diva” on Aug. 18, and “Rosemary’s Baby” on Oct. 13. All of the movies feature prominent food scenes that inspire the accompanying menus.

“It was actually sort of magical how it came about,” said Sonoma County chef and author Michele Anna Jordan, who creates the themed menus for each event. “In 2022, I heard that Francis Ford Coppola had restored ‘The Godfather’ to its original perfection. Then I saw that Rialto was going to screen it, and I thought, ‘Why don’t we do a dinner, since they have a café?’”

Excited about a potential collaboration, Jordan reached out to Rialto Cinemas owner Ky Boyd via email. “I didn’t hear from him right away, so I thought, ‘Oh god, I’m such a weirdo. He’s not going to respond,” Jordan said. “But then I got an apology message saying he’d been out of town. He thought it was a fabulous idea.”

That first successful “Godfather” event led to a second Rialto dinner in 2023 with “The Gleaners,” followed by the current Dinner and a Movie series. For the kickoff event last month, Jordan made 45 individual versions of timpano — the showstopping pasta “drum” showcased in “Big Night.”

Sit-down dinners are an ambitious undertaking for a small café kitchen, Jordan noted, yet it all comes together with the help of Rialto chef Noah Hoffman and the café staff. “The people who work at the Rialto are all so great,” she said. “I love working with Noah.”

Meals take place before each film in the theater’s upstairs lobby bar. “It’s the perfect place to do something like this because there are no people coming in to buy tickets for another movie,” Jordan said. “It’s just a beautiful space.”

Jordan is still working on dishes for the upcoming films, with final menus to be announced before each event. For “Big Eden,” she is currently planning a spring theme featuring grilled globe artichokes and a seasonal risotto. The menu for “The Godfather Part II” will include a pork belly porchetta served with warm potato salad.

Because a baguette with butter features largely in “The Diva,” Jordan noted, she will be serving baguettes with homemade butter. The meal will also involve a Grand Aioli — a Provencal-style spread of simply cooked vegetables and steamed seafood served with garlicky mayonnaise. Jordan said she has a surprise dessert in mind for the classic horror flick “Rosemary’s Baby,” along with a Turkish lamb course that ties into one of the movie’s early scenes.

Dinner and a Movie tickets are available online and at the Rialto Cinemas box office. Seating is limited to 40 dinner guests per event, and tickets cost $76.46 per person, including the film and gratuity. Dinner-only tickets cost $69.45, including tip. Wine and beer are available for purchase at an additional cost.

Rialto Cinemas, 6868 McKinley St., Sebastopol, 707-829-3921,