Last week was Sonoma County Restaurant Week, and the Santa Rosa Out There blog ambassadors are here to tell you what was on the menu around town.
If you haven’t heard of, or gone out to eat during Restaurant Week, you’re going to want to. Participating eateries offer great values on prix-fixe menu options that highlight their locally sourced offerings. So mark your calendar for next March, and get all the information you need here. SonomaCounty.com/restaurant-week
Amber Lucas, The Tudor Rose English Tea Room
Amber hit a few of her favorites during Restaurant Week, starting with one of the more unique spots in Downtown Santa Rosa, The Tudor Rose English Tea Room.
“On Friday afternoon I sat down to lunch (after choosing my hat from the wall), selecting their $15 prix fixe menu. It included a pot of tea, a selection of finger sandwiches, a savory pastry, a scone, and a cookie. The selection of sandwiches included cucumber and cream cheese with herbs, egg, and chevre with fig and candied pecans. For my tea I selected the Tudor Rose: it is a fragrant tea with hints of vanilla, and it is delightful with milk and sugar.
But it was the savory pastry that stole the show: buttery and flaky, it was stuffed with vegetables in a brown gravy sauce. My teapot shaped cookie was also a highlight; light and buttery while not being overly sweet. I hadn’t expected to leave full, thinking that I would be going for a “snack experience.” However I ended up leaving with leftovers!”
Amanda Janik and Melissa Keyser, CIBO Rustico Pizzeria
By some incredible case of Out There coincidence, Amanda and Melissa both went to the same restaurant. That means you get CIBO Rustico reviewed by two of Santa Rosa’s leading voices on the local gourmand community.
Amanda had an old college friend in town. They chose CIBO Rustico as a way to hark back to their days of pocketing bottle deposit money to buy pizza.
“The space itself is inviting, with its long, family-style tables where you might be seated next to a stranger, but will almost certainly leave having made a new friend.
Love of community is a clear presence at CIBO. The menu showcases the wine, beer, juice and produce of their neighbors. Behind the restaurant is the CIBO Organic Garden, where much of what you’ll find on your plate or pizza is grown.
We were seated right away and soon presented with a taste wines from around the neighborhood. First the D’argenzio Sagrantino. Then the Krutz Chardonnay. Then the D’argenzio Super Tuscan. Let’s just say: they were generous with their tastes. And, with everything for that matter. While technically they were participating in the 3-course dinner option of Restaurant Week, theirs was a 4-course meal which included an appetizer, second course, main course and dessert.
A quick glance at the menu shows that they make good use of their wood-fire oven. Many dishes are roasted and come out with that amazing smoky flavor. Between the two of us we sampled their Bufala Mozzarella and prosciutto-wrapped roasted asparagus appetizers, their organic arugula salad with shaved parmigiano and roasted prosciutto and their organic roasted cauliflower, broccolini, asparagus, string bean and green onion dish to start. We mulled over our many pizza options for a while – because pizza! – but finally settled on a pesto, garlic and prosciutto for Mary Ellen and a truffle oil, red pepper, mushroom and shaved parmigiano for me.
Before we had to fret over which dessert to choose, the owner presented us with all three – all local and organic, of course. We shared a cold-pressed coffee with cashews, dates, vanilla beans and sea salt, a vanilla bean cashew milk with dates and sea salt, and my personal favorite, apple slices with burrata and black pepper honey.
After a very long and incredibly busy week, we were their last customers of Restaurant Week, and we were treated with such friendliness and warmth we barely noticed they’d turned off their ‘Open’ sign and were probably waiting desperately for us to leave so they could all go home and sleep for the next two days.
No amount of bottle deposit money could have given us such a nice evening back in our college days. Thank you, CIBO Rustico, for helping me impress my friend!”
Melissa’s experience was no less welcoming.
“Tucked between D’argenzio Winery and Fogbelt Brewery on Cleveland Ave., I had no idea that CIBO Rustico existed. My husband and I were the first to arrive for lunch, and the owner Ray welcomed us with a small pour of a voignier blend. I liked the place already!
The menu for Restaurant Week consisted of 4 courses, and for lunch, you could choose two. I opted for the buffalo mozzarella with prosciutto and olive oil appetizer, and the fennel sausage mushroom pizza. My husband ordered wood fired mixed veggies and a margherita pizza. While chatting with Ray, we learned that they use veggies from local Imwalle Gardens and import special flour for the pizzas from Italy. The flowers gracing our table were from bolted broccoli, picked from their small patio garden outside.
While we waited for the pizzas to be baked in the wood oven, Ray treated us to a sample of roasted asparagus wrapped with prosciutto. This may have been my favorite dish of the afternoon. Pretty sure the only way to eat asparagus is to roast it at a billion degrees and surround it with salty ham. My sausage pizza was good, but I loved the margherita that my husband had. The sauce was intensely tomato-y and sweet, and you can’t go wrong with buffalo mozzarella. To procrastinate on having to adventure back out in the rain, we decided to also order dessert: burrata with apple slices, honey and black pepper. Because if there is burrata on the menu, one must always order burrata!
It was a fabulous lunch, and I’m excited to know of another great place to eat in Santa Rosa.”
Amber Lucas, La Rosa Tequileria & Grille
Now back to Amber and her big day adventure taking in all the flavors of Sonoma County Restaurant week.
My next top was the La Rosa Tequileria & Grille. I had their $15 lunch menu, selecting the kale-citrus salad, black bean burger, and Mexican chocolate mousse for dessert. I have a thing for kale; I love to eat it while dining out, however, I cannot seem to master preparing it at home. I was excited to see vegetarian menu items (which can be a challenge to find during Restaurant Week), and couldn’t wait to dig in.
The kale and citrus salad was unexpected: I haven’t seen kale, grapefruit, red onions, and candied walnuts paired together before. The earthiness of the kale paired with the sharp sweetness of the grapefruit and oranges was interesting with the candied walnuts. The spicy black bean burger came topped with avocado, lettuce, garlic sauce, and cheese. Bean burgers can be a challenge, as they often can be dry. However my burger was dense and moist, and absolutely delicious. I was delighted to have such a hearty vegetarian option, and was beginning to wonder if I was going to have room for dessert.
Thankfully, there is always room for dessert. The Mexican chocolate mousse was an absolute delight. Rich and creamy, without being too thick. The spiciness of the cinnamon was at the perfect balance, making this an instant favorite of mine. I could see myself returning just for this, when a strong craving for chocolate hits (which is often).