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Franchetti's Wood Fire Kitchen, Santa Rosa

Author: Alexandra Russell
July, 2016 Issue

Franchetti’s Wood Fire Kitchen
1229 North Dutton
Santa Rosa, CA
(707) 526-1229
Cal-Italia with an Americana twist
Open 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (Mon.-Fri.); 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m.(Sat.-Sun.); 5-8:30 p.m. (daily)
Dinner entrees $8-$22
Beer, wine, vermouths and “craftails” made with Soju liquors
Located in a Santa Rosa business district, Franchetti’s is ideally situated to become a go-to for busy professionals. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (plus weekend brunch and Happy Hour Wednesday through Sunday), it’s designed to deliver good food fast—and at a reasonable price. Place your order at the walk-up counter, then find a seat. Food will be delivered to your table and all beverage service is tableside. Take-out is also available, as are off-site catering and onsite events.
The atmosphere is casual—right down to the ping-pong table and water delivery for guest dogs on the patio—but the food is seriously yummy. John Franchetti, a third generation Sonoma County native, and his wife, Gesine, founded a number of popular restaurants, including Rosso in Santa Rosa and Petaluma.
We started with housemade focaccia with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping, a tempting opener, but the real fun started with what came next. A chopped salad of Romaine, kale, avocado, toasted walnuts and feta took an interesting turn with the addition of honey Tabasco vinaigrette. The sweet and spicy dressing jazzed up the greens nicely, and the nuts and cheese mellowed the heat.
Bacon stuffed yam skins were an evening special that we couldn’t resist. They were as delicious as you imagine, with Black Pig bacon, talegio cheese, cherry bomb peppers and green onions adding to the sweet yam and crispy skin.
Both the sausage arancini (risotto balls) and meatballs are sold individually, for $2 each. About two inches in diameter, the arancini had a golden brown breadcrumb crust, came on a bed of fresh aioli and was drizzled with lemon olive oil. When we cut it open, melty pimento cheese oozed over the soft rice and spicy Italian sausage for a wonderful savory bite. The meatballs were the same size, served on a bright, fresh pomodoro sauce and garnished with chopped basil. They were delicately seasoned, letting the veal and pork combination stand out.
The Tierra Farm polenta cake was seared but still soft, topped with truffle porcini spread, an assortment of mushrooms, Peruvian sweet peppers and arugula. The soft, creamy polenta and rich blend of mushrooms and truffle could have been overwhelming, but the spicy greens and peppers that popped when bitten brightened the dish.
Cauliflower mac n cheese was a grown-up version of comfort food, with the sharp flavor of fontina cheese and cooked-just-right cauliflower combining to elevate the childhood favorite. Our next plate was a real surprise: gluten-free organic quinoa spaghetti, topped with pomodoro, pine nuts and shaved parmesean, satisfied our pasta craving and left us marveling. The noodles were flavorful and the texture was a perfect al dente, not gummy or mushy.
There are a number of gluten-free options on the menu, including focaccia and pizza crust, but we chose traditional dough for our roasted chicken pizza. The thin, chewy, wood-fired crust had great flavor and was topped with chunks of tender chicken, pomodoro sauce, pesto and pine nuts, as well as mozzarella cheese.
In all, we were impressed with the imaginative menu and realistic pricing. “We’re want to deliver great quality for the price,” Gesine told us. “Hopefully that means you can come here twice!” You can bet we’ll be back.

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