Monday, January 18, 2010

I'm Moving to Santa Rosa

I'm moving to Santa Rosa. For thirteen years, I have lived happily in the Hidden City, enjoying the small town joys and squabbles, watching the neighborhood kids grow up and go away to college, and relishing the quiet lap of the waves on the beach three tiers below our hillside house.

But, I'm moving now, to be closer to Rosso.

Rosso is a pizza parlor, but calling it a "pizza parlor" brings to mind a wholly different kind of restaurant than Rosso is. We had read about it in Michael Bauer's column and, although we don't always agree with this local food guru, we felt we needed to try any pizza parlor that got 3 stars for both food and service from him. Most places are elated to be given 2.5 for one or the other, and 3+ usually go only to places like the French Laundry.

Saturday afternoon, the rain had not yet begun (again), and we wanted to get out to try something new before the forecast rain set in. We popped Cora into the backseat, drove the hour up to Santa Rosa, settled ourselves into a table and unfolded the clever paper menu. I'm not usually indecisive about food but this menu was a study in forced choice. Almost every offering sounded divine and, looking around at other people chowing down, we saw everyone enjoying their various selections, no one more than any other.

Finally, I settled on a salad with house-smoked chicken, fresh greens, caramelized walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, celery, Nana Mae apple slices and Nana Mae's organic apple cider vinaigrette (Rosso's uses local, organic ingredients). My Beloved ordered the pizza Funghi - a white base of shaved garlic and oregano with oven toasted shitake and crimini mushrooms, taleggio and fontina cheeses, shaved artichokes and fresh thyme.

For drinks, My Beloved enjoyed his blood orange spritzer and I had a "Half and Half," what in other places is called an Arnold Palmer. Both were made with fresh ingredients and both were amazing.

As we waited for our meals to be expertly prepared, we watched as the waiter brought a lump of raw pizza dough out on a floured dish and presented it to a restless little girl of about three years who was lunching with her Daddy at the next table. She was thrilled to play with the dough, squeezing it delightedly and shaping it into a lump of her choosing - and stayed quiet the whole time. Brilliant. The server took it away, then, just as their meal was served and brought it back, baked and served with a dish of the red tomato sauce for dipping, a few minutes later when she again became restless. Once again, the dough worked its magic to quiet and interest the child. This place clearly knows kids and has thought carefully about how to welcome them.

One bite of our own meals convinced us that we needed to share - both were wonderful. My salad was fresh and balanced with wonderful flavors and textures, and the chicken was pulled apart, moist with a smoky goodness that sneaked in after the taste of the chicken itself was enjoyed, an entirely different animal than the usual dry, overly-smoked, chopped chicken breast one finds almost everywhere else. My Beloved's plate-sized pizza was simply to die for - rich and redolent with tangy cheese and mushrooms, garlic and artichokes, and with a crust that was both crispy and tender, burned black in spots and overall chewy and tasty.

They don't serve desserts, at least not at lunch, but we enjoyed our (very strong) lattes while idly watching the non-stop but thankfully silent soccer games on the big screen TV. I'm not a huge soccer fan but I have to say, "Scooooooooooooore!!" I'm moving to Santa Rosa.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Greg said...

I've had their pizza at the Sebastopol Farmer's Market and it is wonderful.There are lots of great food venues to explore in Santa Rosa.
Moving after fifteen years in one place should be and adventure in logistics ;)

Monday, January 18, 2010  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

You're not moving.

Monday, January 18, 2010  
Blogger dancingmorganmouse said...

No way are you moving, you've just put in all that decking.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, why didn't you tell me about it earlier? Major find!

Cookiecrumb, well, okay, so I lied for comic effect. Busted!

Morgan, guess not, but we'll be driving to Santa Rosa frequently.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010  
Blogger Greg said...

I'm so gullible :)
http://lifesapicnic.blogspot.com/search?q=rosso

Tuesday, January 19, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, you _did_ tell me! Apologies! Beautiful photos on that post, by the way.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010  

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