Hand-painted signs greet passersby at Schellville Grill's cozy roadside shack, hinting that homemade meals await inside. Though the restaurant's façade emanates a rustic vibe, the kitchen teems with formal expertise from the Culinary Institute of America, owner Matthew Nagan's alma mater. Here, Matthew rubs beef tri-tips in a mélange of dried chipotle, natural smoke flavor, and hand-ground black pepper, marinates them for 24 hours, then grills them over hot coals, hickory chips, and dried wine vines. This sweet and spicy meat stars in several house specials, including a ranchero quesadilla and a sandwich that's lured Food Network's Guy Fieri to Matthew's smokehouse.
On a flower-lined patio, diners pair live music and local wine with gourmet sweets from Matthew's sister, Emily. Available in flavors such as chocolate zinfandel and espresso cinnamon, whole cakes can be ordered for pickup or enjoyed at private parties in the restaurant's dining room or safe deposit box.
Romeo’s Pasta & Pizza's pie slingers orchestrate medleys of toppings atop sourdough crust, which is crafted fresh daily on the restaurant premises. Pore over the menu of create-your-own pizzas and specialty creations, such as the roasted vegetable pie, which sports zucchini, red onions, sweet peppers, and feta. On the playground of the meat combination pizza, canadian bacon, pepperoni, salami, and sausage huddle up for a game of two-hand touch against diner's taste buds. Diners quaff soft drinks, domestic or premium beer, or Salmon Creek white zinfandel and pinot noir to cleanse the palate without having to glide open-mouthed down a slip ‘n’ slide.
Wild Goat Bistro, winner of the Petaluma People's Choice Awards' Best New Restaurant 2010, plays host to fresh, local ingredients and wines from around the world. Enjoy a glass of Louis Jadot Chardonnay 2008 ($9) as you imbibe oven-roasted prawns, which slow dance with garlic breadcrumbs and melted mozzarella in a summer rain of butter and wine ($8.50). The 10-inch Neapolitan-style pizza—the bistro’s house specialty—cradles an orchestra of ingredients with a thin, crispy crust. Guests can commission the chefs to sculpt one in Mediterranean style—artichokes, mushrooms, kalamata olives, grape tomatoes, red onion, and mozzarella over pesto sauce ($12.75)—or in the meaty form, known as the Fog Lifter—spicy fennel sausage, applewood smoked bacon, pepperoni, and mozzarella over tomato sauce ($12.75). Any pizza, except for the That'sa Meatball, can be made with gluten-free crust.
With its exposed brick walls and dark woods, Risibisi Restaurant would feel right at home among the trattorias lining the streets of northern Italy. Chalk that sensation up to owner Marco Palmieri, a native of Trieste. Under his stewardship, the award-winning establishment has garnered praise from Zagat and the Michelin Guide.
Though everything about Risibisi is Italian, its roots are actually planted firmly in Californian soil. The restaurant relies almost exclusively on ingredients produced by local farms throughout Sonoma County. Chefs transform those elements into fried eggplant paninis with goat cheese for lunch and around 10 different pastas for dinner. They also create succulent entr?es such as braised lamb shank with pistachio-olive pesto. A full bar allows guests to sip authentic cocktails while waiting for a table, or for a handy dining companion to build one out of toothpicks and bubblegum.
Since its first pizzeria opened in 1978 in Palo Alto, Mountain Mike’s Pizza has stretched to encompass more than 150 restaurants throughout the West Coast. From the meat-laden Pike’s Peak to the vegetarian-friendly Mt. Veggiemore, 12 specialty pizzas—most of them named after mountains—arrive in portions from small to extra large, which can feed up to eight patrons or spark nostalgia in homesick, city-dwelling mountain goats. Diners can also choose their own conglomeration of ingredients, ranging from Louisiana-style hot links to sun-dried tomatoes, and supplement pies with an all-you-can-eat salad bar or a quintet of appetizer options including wings and jalapeño poppers.
Though a typical sports bar’s main draw is usually its arsenal of flat-screen TVs, things run a little differently at Seasons Pizzeria Sports Bar & Grill. Nine 42-inch sportscasting screens do hang from the eatery’s walls, yet the real entertainment comes from the open kitchen, where acclaimed chef Glenn Cybulski hand-tosses thick California–style dough in front of diners' eyes before sliding it into a wood-fired oven imported directly from Italy. The chef cooks up a list of predesigned pies, from a crispy neopolitan to the meat-packed Carne, but also leaves some of the innovation to customers, customizing create-your-own pizzas topped with fixings such as canadian bacon and artichoke hearts. Aside from spinning out the decadent dough, the head chef also lends his talents to hand-pattied burgers, locally caught seafood, and slow-roasted barbecue slathered in homemade sauce and butterfly kisses.