Downtown Forestville spans only three blocks along Front Street and the town’s population is a tiny 3,761. But lately, chefs have been taking note of the quaint burg, setting up exciting new restaurants next to the classic favorites. Here are five to visit. (Click through the above gallery to see some favorite dishes.)
A La Heart Kitchen
Deborah Rodgers opened her catering business in Duncans Mills in 1982 and moved to Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square in 1991. This spring, her daughter, Mariana Krambs Belew, relocated the shop to downtown Forestville and expanded it into a café.
The charming enterprise offers premium picnic groceries and grab-and-go meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “You come in, check out the fridge and see what looks good today,” Belew says. That might be everything, since the daily changing menu tempts with mouthwatering specialties like bacon and shrimp hush puppies, biscuits and sausage gravy, chile cheese cornbread, chicken and tofu satay with peanut sauce and Tuscan chicken with sour cream mashed potatoes and cauliflower gratin. Save room for cheesecake with pecan praline sauce.
6490 Mirabel Road, Forestville, 707-527-7555, alaheart.com
Sonoma Pizza Co.
So close, we can taste it… The former pizza pop-up has landed a brick-and-mortar setup in the former Jigar’s wine tasting room space and is hiring pizzaiolos, prep cooks and service experts. That means we’ll soon be devouring lots of great, wood-fired stuff, like a Pizza Margherita loaded with creamy fior de latte and mozzarella; a Nirvana pie topped with Ezzo Supreme pepperoni, Grana Padano, basil, ricotta and hot honey; and a Bianca Fun Guy smothered in local mushrooms, housemade roasted garlic crema, charred kale, mozzarella and Grana Padano.
For an edible adventure, try the Bora Bora piled with organic pulled pork, charred pineapple, beer battered onions, Bachan’s Japanese ginger-mirin barbecue sauce, mozzarella and Grana Padano. You can get gluten-free dough and/or vegan cheeses and plant-based meats, too.
6615 Front St., Forestville, sonomapizzaco.com
Gerard’s Paella Catering
Chef Gerard Nebesky famously beat star chef Bobby Flay in a Food Network paella throwdown in 2008. He also turned his successful catering business into a Santa Rosa restaurant, shuttering it after COVID-19 set in. Now he’s back, working on a new bistro in the former Twist location. He called in with this report: “I’m setting up for the first Coachella since the pandemic and I said I feel a little rusty…..then someone yells … ‘we’re all rusty together.’ Ugh, so true.”
After fixing up the Forestville space, Nebesky’s been doing tastings there for weddings and other events. On periodic Fridays, he has been offering take-and-bake paella. “As the season calendar fills in and stabilizes, we will have more announcements on how to get paella to the people,” he promises.
6536 Front St., Forestville, 707-874-2711, gerardspaella.com
Canneti Roadhouse Italiana
Francesso Torre learned to cook in his grandmother’s kitchen, while growing up in the Tuscan coastal town of Massa, Italy. One of his favorite feasts was – and still is – tordelli, large raviolis stuffed with meat and a touch of cinnamon. As a teenager, one of his first jobs was working with chef Giuseppina Moscaat at her Michelin two-star Il Bottaccio in Montignoso.
Since opening Canneti in 2013, Torre puts his own California accents on his Italian cuisine. It takes a full day of slow simmering to make his Bolognese, he makes his own fennel salame, focaccia and even olive oil, and wows with signature dishes like steamed savoy cabbage rolls stuffed with handmade whole milk ricotta over San Marzano tomato cream and crispy capers.
6675 Front St., Forestville, 707-887-2232, cannetiroadhouse.com
La Rosa Market and Taqueria
Founded by Rosa and Pedro Lepehernandez nearly two decades ago, this cozy gem delights with sturdy, savory staples like chile rellenos stuffed with tons of gooey Jack under a mantle of more cheese; a pork chile verde burrito plump with veggies, beans, rice, cheese, sour cream, guacamole and salsa; and delectable shrimp sautéed in butter, garlic, onion and bell pepper, served with rice, black beans and warm tortillas.
Go for the street tacos, as well – an order of four lets you choose two types of meat (we love the carnitas and the tender lengua). Bonus: you can sip wine and beer with your meal.
6555 Front St., Forestville, 707-887-8741, la-rosa-market.com