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Monticello Seasonal Cuisine

Hi.  I’m Walking Bob, and I had just walked out of the Co-Op in early September when I saw that something new was finally going into the building that previously housed Osaka Sushi.  When I peeked it, the place was a disaster as they were working to take out the old sushi bar and other equipment, but the good news was that my friends, Tony and Rhonda Gruska were the ones who were moving in.

Tony and Rhonda are well-known to Farmer’s Market visitors who have enjoyed their waffles and amazing salads as well as their chutney, pickles and seasonal soups at what they’ve been calling Monticello Bistro.  They have also run a catering business for several years and for a period of time they had a restaurant site, also known as Monticello Bistro, in Winters.

Tony and Rhonda have teamed with Jim Eldon for their new venture, known as Monticello Seasonal Cuisine.  Although the sign still says, “Coming Soon”, they quietly opened their doors on January 11, so Davis Life Magazine readers have a chance to beat the crowds and to enjoy the new menu before the world discovers the place.

The transformation of the inside of the restaurant has been amazing to watch. A blank wall at the back of the building started out as a black and white sketch and grew into Lee Klemens’ beautiful mural shown at the top of this entry.  The new interior has an open and very fresh feel that matches the fresh seasonal food that has always been a Monticello hallmark.

The sushi bar is long gone and stacks of bricks and wood that I saw when I stopped by in November grew into the beautiful bar shown at the end of this blog entry.  Tony, Rhonda and Jim have been involved every step of the way in overseeing, and pitching in to work on,  all the details of the transformation.

They’re opening with a wide-ranging menu that varies by meal and will change with the seasons, probably on a monthly basis.  There were so many options that it’s hard to only highlight a few, but imagine yourself dining on Rigatoni with Arugula Pesto, Toasted Walnuts, Broccoli, Niman Ranch Apple Wood Smoked Bacon & Parmesan with Village Bakery Bread, or maybe a Carolina-style Pulled Bledsoe Pork Sandwich with Horseradish Slaw followed by some Chocolate Mousse with Rum?  Hungry yet?

The restaurant will be open for brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 to 2:00, for lunch on Tuesday through Friday from 11:00 to 2:00, and for dinner on Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 to 10:00.  Be some of the first people in town to join your hosts for some amazing food.  Check out their website for updates and tell them Walking Bob sent you.

By the way, does anyone out there remember what restaurant preceded Osaka Sushi, and Monticello Seasonal Cuisine, at 630 G Street?

13 Responses to Monticello Seasonal Cuisine

  1. Alan Humason January 14, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    I met Tony at an entrepreneurial training program in 2000 — he’s a fine fellow and an excellent chef. I can’t wait to try out the new place!

  2. Julia Craig Herdt January 14, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    Thanks Bob! I just might go by there today for lunch. Congratulations to Rhonda and Tony – go gifted and so hard-working!

  3. David Burmester January 14, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    I don’t know if it was the immediate predecessor of Osaka Sushi, but I do remember that Straw Hat Pizza was in that location for years. By the way, a game my wife and I often play when we’re eating out downtown is to try to remember “what was where” back in the day. When we came to town in 1970, about the only restaurant that didn’t serve pizza as it’s primary offering was Larry Blake’s (and the Rathskeller downstairs). During what we might call the “Golden Age of Dining in Davis,” back in the 1990’s, there was a wide variety of offerings. Our favorite was the Crepe Bistro on what is now the E Street Plaza. Now, of course, we have an overabundance of Asian restaurants (mainly Thai) and few “European” choices. We welcome Montcello Bistro — Rhonda and Tony have been serving great food for a long time (last year, they provided great take-out at Acme Theatre Company’s Free Shakespeare in the Park at the Art Center). Now, if we could just have a great French bistro again!

  4. Bob Schultz January 14, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    Straw Hat Pizza it was. I loved that information because I once worked for another Straw Hat location and held on to my red-and-white striped shirt for years.

    Thanks, too, to David and Julie for noting what great people Rhonda and Tony are for their past service to the community.

  5. maryvaughn@msn.com January 14, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    It was Straw Hat pizza … back when the Co-Op was
    Safeway ~

  6. Kari Peterson January 14, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    We’re very excited about Monticello Bistro coming to our neighborhood! We stumbled in yesterday and realized right away it’ll be a place we regularly frequent. Had a great salad, soup and some braised winter greens. Eager to see what happens with the interior, the bar area and so on. Hoping it’s so successful they have to expand.

  7. Cary Arnold January 15, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    Bob, I’ve been dreaming of Julia Childs’ Chocolate Mousse that I had at Monticello on Thursday. Great soup and chicken salad also! I was telling Rhonda how I love that the original walkway in front of the restaurant is intact. I remember walking it often as a child since I lived only a few blocks away. I miss Lee’s Drugs and Vic’s Ice Cream! Thanks for the great story. Look for a story on our Thursday lunch in DLM next week!

  8. David Burmester January 17, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    I had to leave another reply. We had brunch at Monticello yesturday (Sunday), and we had the strata, which was terrific. Thanks for the great addition to the Davis dining scene.

  9. Walking Bob January 21, 2011 at 6:33 am #

    I’ve only been in town since ’94, so I didn’t know that the Co-Op was Safeway. It was interesting to see the plans for the Straw Hat Pizza restaurant as the renovation to Monticello was going on.

  10. Walking Bob January 21, 2011 at 6:38 am #

    After attending the amazing “Anon(ymous)” that Acme put on last weekend, I am honored to have comments from the guy who got it all started. Rhonda, Tony & Jim couldn’t ask for a better spokesperson to confirm the great work they’re doing.

  11. Elizabeth Andrea Fulmer January 21, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    Delighted that Tony and Rhonda’s Monticello Bistro is home on G Street, and I am excited that brunch is offered on Saturdays and Sundays! Amazing cooking offered by very talented and generous-hearted community members. To quote my grandmother, “Ain’t we got fun!”

  12. Rhonda Gruksa January 21, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    Thanks to all of you who have made our soft opening a bit of a pummeling! Who can complain about that? We will continue to improve as we get more comfortable with the space (in other words, getting things organized) and our crew (including me, Tony and Jim) get into the swing of things.

    We are exhausted but having a great time. and want to thank you for supporting our dream of having our business where we live. We really appreciate people like Bob, who encouraged us along the way (and took some fabulous pictures).

    As AT&T does not believe in allowing our web designer to access our new domain and can’t seem to provide us with the internet, we are grateful for Davis Life’s excellent web presence.

    We hope to see you soon.
    Rhonda, Tony and Jim

  13. Joy February 16, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    I am so excited to see Monticello come to fruitition…what a treat for Davis! I can’t wait to eat there as I have had Tony and Rhonda’s food before and all I can say is yum. See you soon!

    Love and Hugs!