22900 Broadway / Sonoma CA / 707-996-5151
Category: Northern Italian,
***** 10/8/11 $$-$$$ B-L-D Beer & Wine
Open Daily: B = M-W 8am-12pm-ish / Thu-Sun 6am-12pm-ish
L = M-W 11am-2pm and Thu-Sun 11am-2:30pm-ish
D = Thu-Sun 5:30pm-9pm
Live Music: Sat 7p-9pm and Sun 10:30am-1:30pm
This place reminds me of the 1996 movie “Big Night” where two brothers from Italy open a small restaurant in a small town on the New Jersey Shore in the 1950‘s and try to educate Americans about real Italian cooking. Like the movie food here is very interesting. So much in fact, Guy Fieri of FoodNetwork fame taped an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives there earlier this year. This place can in no way be put into the dive category! It’s really more of a countryside cafe with indoor and outdoor seating in a covered patio (dog friendly).
On our dinner visit, I noticed people at an adjacent table, obvious devotees of DDD who told the owner they had come to check this place out based on the show. I am not a Fieri fan but, I have to give him credit for recognizing this out-of-the-way restaurant and helping to put it on the map. Opened in 2002, the owner/chef (Matteo—Italian for Matthew) has taken Northern Italian, American Mid-West and California Grill food, infused each with exceptional flavors and careful preparation to produce some of the best comfort food I’ve eaten.
On previous lunch visits we have sampled the St. Louis Style BBQ Ribs in fresh fruit and red wine BBQ sauce, (trust me, it’s great), french fries with 3 kinds of dipping sauces Yum…(horsey-horseradish, smokey chipotle and ranch or blue cheese), Grilled Tuscan Chicken Gorgonzola (mixed greens in a fantastic vinaigrette, tossed with walnuts, gorgonzola, apples, artichokes and fire-roasted red peppers with a grilled Tuscan chicken breast). All exceptionally good.
On our recent visit and since I am half-Italian, I had to order the Sautéed Brown Buttered Chicken, described on the menu as “famous in Florence” (who knew?) the dish was served over a rustic mash of potatoes and sautéed veg. The chicken was fork tender and extremely moist with the brown butter sauce lightly dressing the chicken and mash. Clean and crisp flavors that true Italian cooking produces. The second dish ordered was the Roman Style Lasagna. This dish arrived in a large ramekin. (???) Not the usual, square-cut, out of a casserole presentation I am used to but, the aroma was wonderful. Wow! Tasted as good as it smelled, and the hand-rolled organic pasta floated on top and below the creamy tomato and red onion béchamel sauce and house made ragout of pork and beef. I especially liked the vegetables in this dish, mushrooms, yellow squash zucchini and eggplant as they were discernible and not pureed into the sauce. Definitely a different slant on an old favorite.
Before I forget, try the Caesar salad. Not the typical, over-dressed, garlic abused mess on your plate. True restraint has been used with just a hint of anchovy. Refreshing. Finally, yummy house made deserts by Emily (Matteo’s sister), round out the experience with cheesecakes of various flavors, fresh fruit crisps served warm with ice cream and layer cakes. Get Thee to the Schellville Grill for comfort food at it’s best!