The Culinary Institute of America, founded in 1946, has gained a reputation as the world’s premier culinary college. And the Restaurant at CIA Copia, which opened in the Oxbow District in 2016, offers a distinctive dining experience with seasonal dishes inspired by the bounty of the Napa Valley. This spring, the restaurant ventured into new territory, introducing the first 3D dining experience to the West Coast, created by Skullmapping and Tablemation.
Omotenashi is a word the Japanese use to describe their unique approach to hospitality. And it’s not just hospitality in the usual sense, but an elevated politeness that involves anticipating the needs of guests, which is at the heart of the concept.
The heartbeat of Italian life occurs around the dinner table. And though Francis Ford Coppola was born in Detroit, Mich., his grandparents emigrated from Italy, and young Francis grew up with traditional values, which included Sunday night dinners with family. Coppola’s vision was to create a dining experience reminiscent of his childhood at the winery’s restaurant, Rustic. Every Tuesday night, Rustic offers a tavola (pronounced a TAH-voh-la), which means “to the table.”
Pongo’s Kitchen & Tap
701 Sonoma Mountain Pkwy C8
Nestled at the top of a hillside on Westside Road, Madrona Manor was once the home of John Paxton, a successful businessman, who was involved in numerous enterprises and his wife, Hannah. During the 1880s and 1890s, it was known as Madrona Knoll Rancho and was considered the grandest of homes in Healdsburg. Bill and Trudi Konrad purchased the manor in 1999 and made extensive renovations to maintain its elegant charm.
Perch + Plow
90 Old Courthouse Square
Santa Rosa, Calif.
Charlie Palmer Steak Napa
Progressive American Cuisine
1260 1st Napa Street
7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Nov.-Feb.)
3 p.m. to 10 p.m. (March-Oct.)
Located in the heart of downtown San Rafael, Il Davide is one of the leading Italian restaurants in Marin County. Founded in 1995, David Hayden was determined to bring a different culinary experience to the county, rather than the classic Toscano-style restaurants he was surrounded by. His mission was to create a unique, flavor-filled menu with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. “I wanted to reconstruct the classic Italian dishes to the Il Davide-style,” says Hayden.
If you’re in downtown Santa Rosa and looking for a casual place to get a bite, Bibi’s Burger Bar is the perfect spot to share a meal with family and friends. Locally-owned by the Chandi Hospitality Group, Bibi’s offers indoor-outdoor seating and a variety of burgers, including the all-American classic bacon-cheeseburger, but there are other options that offer a unique take on the classic such as the Thai burger, served with chili-lemongrass coleslaw, and the Smokey, topped with bacon and smoked gouda. There’s also a vegetarian option—the potato tiki burger. I’ve tried it once before, and it’s one of those rare veggie burgers that’s bursting with flavor and has a satisfying mouth-feel.
Built in 1907 and nestled in the heart of the Napa Valley along Main Street, you’ll find a charming Georgian-inspired house at the top of a hill, known as Acacia House, which opened in May last year.
A fresh canvas is an open road to new possibilities for an artist, and that’s the inspiration behind Valette, located on Center Street in downtown Healdsburg. The two proprietors, brothers Dustin Valette and Aaron Garzini, grew up in the area and opened the restaurant three years ago in March with the idea of creating a unique dining experience. “It’s a blank canvas for local artisans— winemakers, farmers, ranchers—to showcase their craft,” says Dustin Valette, who is also executive chef.
If you’ve ever dined at a Charlie Palmer restaurant, then you know you’re in for a memorable experience, and Harvest Table is one of those places you don’t want to miss. The restaurant opened in 2015, along Main Street in St. Helena. A celebrity chef known for his progressive style of cooking, Charlie Palmer has 15 restaurants across the country, including New York, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. He’s also notably present in Wine Country and well-known by the locals.
Originally a stagecoach stop known as Markleville, Cloverdale was incorporated when the San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad arrived in 1872. Today, it’s part of Wine Country, within the Alexander Valley AVA, and over the years has maintained its charming small-town feel. On the corner of S. Cloverdale Boulevard and First Street in downtown Cloverdale, you’ll find the Trading Post—also known around town as “The Post”—a restaurant and bakery.
A market and café, SHED is also a hub where the community can gather to celebrate food, offering fresh local produce and flowers, an eclectic assortment of spices, preserves, quality cookware and more to appeal to the inner gourmand.
If you’re looking for a unique experience or authentic Portuguese cuisine, try Café Lucia, a hidden gem of a restaurant tucked in a tranquil space in walking distance of Healdsburg’s town square. The restaurant, owned and operated by brother-sister team, Manuel Azevedo and Lucia Azevedo Fincher, offers new Portuguese cuisine—or as they say in Portugal, cozinha nova Portuguesa.
Village Inn & Restaurant
20822 River Blvd.
Monte Rio, CA 95462
Upscale comfort food
Winter hours: Fri.-Sun. 3-6 p.m. (Happy Hour); 5-9 p.m. (dinner)
Full bar; Sonoma County wine and beer
122 West Napa St.
Sonoma, CA 95476
New Portuguese cuisine
Plates $15, $24 or $32
Portuguese wine, Port and Madiera; some beer, cider and cocktails
790 Main St.
Napa, CA 94559
Seasonal California Cuisine
5 p.m.-10 p.m. (Monday-Thursday), 5 p.m.-10 p.m. (Friday),
11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. (Saturday), 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. (Sunday)
Nice wine and beer list, craft cocktails
The County Bench Kitchen + Bar
535 4th St.
Santa Rosa, CA
New American cuisine
Lunch Tuesday through Friday; Sunday brunch; dinner hours vary by day, check website for details
Entrees: $12 (individual)-$70 (for the table)
Extensive wine list, full bar
38 Miller Ave.
Mill Valley, CA 94941
Modern bistro fare
Dinner nightly; lunch Tuesdays-Fridays; weekend brunch
Entrees (dinner): $13.50-$33
Full bar, good wine list
691 Broadway, Sonoma
American Comfort Food
Lunch and dinner daily
Full bar, nice wine list
Sir & Star at The Olema
10000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
West Marin Cuisine
Dinner Wednesday through Sunday
Entrees (dinner): $15-$48
Mostly Marin wine, beer, cider and mead
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