New local spots bring global flavors
With a new crop of restaurants opening in the last few months, a walk around Healdsburg plaza has become a mini tour of global cuisines with chances to sample tastes from New Orleans to Spain.
The Parish Café may be the most popular of the group based merely on the lines of folks seen waiting to get in for the authentic New Orleans-style food prepared by chef owner Rob Lippincott.
Open Wednesdays through Sundays for breakfast and lunch (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.), the Parish recreates the charm and welcome of The Big Easy, serving large plates of gumbo, shrimp and grits and a selection of po’ boy submarine sandwiches – meat or fried seafood with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mayonnaise piled high on French-style bread. Lippincott spent special attention to the bread, which is among the more crucial aspects of the po boy that sets it apart from other sandwiches. Lippincott worked closely with Cousteaux French Bakery to make the bread as authentic as possible – crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy inside.
The Parish also specializes in the fried donuts with powered sugar called Beignets, famously sold at Café Du Monde in New Orleans’ French Market District. (Lippincott also sells them at the Saturday Santa Rosa Farmers Market).
Despite its location, a couple blocks south of the plaza at 33 Mill Street, and no formal announcement of its opening around Halloween, Parish has been packed. The first week they were so overwhelmed by the response, they had to turn take-out orders away.
But as they’ve staff up, manager Bradley Blanchard, Lippincott’s cousin and also a native of New Orleans, says the restaurant is running much more smoothly now. Parish is open Wednesday-Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for breakfast and lunch.
Owners of the Healdsburg Hotel have created a casual lunch and dinner restaurant inside the hotel, previously occupied by Café Newstand.
Pizzando features wood-fired pizzas and other small plates created by Spoonbar chef Louis Maldonado with the help of Liza Shaw formerly of A16, who was hired to consult on the pizzas. The menu is almost entirely prepared in the wood fire oven, a rustic selection of dishes, including vegetable and seafood appetizers, house made pastas, steak, ribs, chicken and the pizzas. Chef de Cuisine Ben Davis (Petite Syrah) is overseeing the the day-to-day operations.
The tiny spot – it has only 18 seats – sits on the corner of Matheson Street and Healdsburg Avenue and has glass walls on the street side and a warmly lit, yet modern interior with an open kitchen, copper countertops offset by gray steel and a ceiling of wood paneling. The Mugnaini wood fire oven is the centerpiece of the kitchen.
Located at the corner of Healdsburg Avenue and Matheson, Pizzando is open seven days a week (Sun-Thurs. 1:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m. and Frid.-Sat from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.).
Mark and Terri Stark, who run a catering company as well as several local restaurants including local popular spot Willi’s Seafood and Wine Bar, debuted Bravas Bar de Tapas earlier this month at the location previously occupied by Ravenous. The idea grew out of a recent trip the couple made to Spain.
“They went to Barcelona fell in love with the tapas bar culture there,” says Bravas manager Lesa Cogo. “They thought it would be a really great fit here in wine country.”
The Starks tapped Chef Tayler Bailey as head chef for Bravas. A Healdsburg native, she has spent time cooking in the upper Northwest, including Seattle before becoming the long time head chef for the Stark’s catering business, Stark & Co.
Bravas specializes in the Spanish appetizers or snacks called tapas. These “small plates” include cold, warm and hot dishes that pretty much span the breadth of Spanish cuisines from egg tortillas to olive plates to little sandwiches called bocadillos. Bravas’ menu includes a wide range of dishes, including deep-fried salt cod fritters, whole sardine in olive oil, crispy pig ears and a selection Spanish “jamon” and cheeses.
Bravas is located at 420 Center Street and is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (until 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays).
A short walk toward the plaza takes a diner from Spain to Greece where Taverna Sofia has taken the space formerly occupied by Duskie Estes and John Stewart’s much-beloved Bovolo café.
Owner and Chef Sofia Petridis-Lim grew up in northern Greece and spent her childhood learning how to cook dolmas and baba ghanoush from her grandmother. The former flight attendant had been working as a manager of a group of psychotherapy offices in Santa Rosa when she decided to go back to school to become a chef.
Now a recent graduate of the Santa Rosa Junior College Culinary Arts Program, Petridis-Lim thought Healdsburg would be a great spot for her small Greek-style restaurant.
“It’s the Sausalito of Sonoma,” she says. “It’s such a beautiful area with so much to offer and the perfect setting.”
Taverna Sofia specializes what she calls “authentic Mediterranean Greek cusine.” Entrees include the dolmas or stuffed grape leaves, hummus and pita bread and spanakopita, a dish of chopped spinach, feta cheese, eggs and herbs cooked in a flaky crust called filo.
“It’s many generations of my family’s cooking,” she says. The restaurant is open every day but Wednesday from 11-8 p.m.