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Eat, Drink and be Cary

The Press Bistro in Sacramento by Davis grown chef David English.

I’ve come to realize that we eat out too much. Not too much for my liking, but too much for me to write individual stories on each dining experience. So, in light of this, I’m changing the format of my Well Fed column to include more places, more often, instead of choosing just one to feature every few weeks. It will be a bit embarrassing to come clean with my dining habit, but hey, it will get more information to you, our readers, on what’s happening in the food world.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with my mediocre everyday meals, but I will share with you the true dining experiences. This will also give me the opportunity to share with you more restaurant news that’s passed onto me. So, here are the dining experiences we’ve had in the past month or so…

The new Rostini Italian Kitchen in Davis.

Rostini Italian Kitchen in the Marketplace shopping center in North Davis is open! Our grown children beat us to the punch and ate there before us, but Jon and I finally made it there for lunch last week. The place is clean and modern with a wood burning pizza oven where they cook pizzas, chickens, veggies and more! When you walk in there are big menus on the walls and you order at the counter (think Café Bernardo and Dos Coyotes). The food is then delivered to your table quickly and it’s fresh with big portion sizes with healthy choices as well like the roasted half chicken with roasted vegetables. And, the prices are good… We’ll be back!

The Press Bistro, Sacramento:  Located in the old Dragonfly location next to Zocalo and Paesanos in Sacramento. Davis-raised chef David English has created the new “it” restaurant. I see my FB friends loving it, read about it in the press and it’s all good. My husband Jon wanted to check it out, so we went on an early Saturday night.

The building is gorgeous. You’ll notice that the brick remains untouched, but the rest of the restaurant has gone through a pretty thorough facelift since Dragonfly. The bar is gorgeous and modern, the tables custom made out of Ash wood, a few antique tables used for bus stations and the hostess stand. There is a very long, tall community table separating the bar from the dining room, but the ceilings are vast and the room open and bright.

The menu is small and filled with Mediterranean-inspired comfort food.  It was all good, even the little plates like the fried meatballs with Zatsiki dip for only $4. We enjoyed the duck and braised short rib entrees, and the desserts were great as well! The service was top notch and we enjoyed visiting with the owner/chef David (who left Ella to start The Press) 4-5 times as he popped by to check on us, bring us plates, etc. He’s very hands on and was even straightening silverware on the tables — A man after my own heart.

Tucos' wine dispensers.

Don’t forget about Tucos in Davis! We find that people either love it, or have never been there. It’s located across from the now closed Fuzio . Tucos is a small wine bar and wine market. I have never seen people come in to purchase wine to go, but you could if you want. This extremely small place is packed with great food that you can’t find anywhere else in Davis. In fact, I would suggest that Napa would be the only competition for Tucos’ unique dishes. Our favorite way to enjoy Tucos is by sitting at one of the quaint patio tables or at the small wine bar, starting with champagne or Sauvignon Blanc and some Kumamoto oysters, then sharing a starter or two, an entrée and a dessert.

Tucos' chicken taco plate with homemade tortillas.

Jon and I have been telling my dad and my aunt and uncle about Tucos for years. They would say, “It’s too small,” or “We forget about that place.” Well, they finally went, loved it, and have gone back 4-5 times since and that was only last month. Be warned… it can be expensive. If you get a salad and a glass of wine, you’re in good shape. If you eat like we do and turn it into a feast with wine pairings, be prepared for a hefty bill. We’ve eaten there twice in the past few weeks and both meals were great, with service to match.

Seasons is a popular standby I know,  I just wanted to remind you about their Thursday half-price bottle of wine nights. If it’s Thursday and we’re debating where to eat, Seasons always wins. This promotion is a win-win. Seasons is busy, the customers are happy. We were there last Thursday and it was booked. They were having to send customers away, so make a reservation or get there early and enjoy the lovely weather on the back patio. Another reason we love Seasons is that it’s one of the really nice restaurants in Davis that also has a full bar.

A group of 20 of us gathered at Leonardo Fasulo’s west Davis Italian restaurant Osteria Fasulo for Rochelle Swanson’s birthday. It was a large group for the small space, but we had a grand time. Appetizers were passed, pastas shared, bites of entrees being taken from neighboring plates. We did a lot of singing and toasting and I’m hoping the other diners weren’t too disrupted by our fun and boisterous group. At the end of the meal Leonardo sent out Limoncello for us all to enjoy and it was fantastic! The best I’ve ever tasted. If you’re looking for a change of pace, head out to west Davis. Their patio dining bordering the Village Homes greenbelts and community gardens is a gorgeous way to spend an evening, but Leonardo, I just have one request – new tables and chairs for the patio! I have a hard time spending that kind of money while sitting on, and at, wobbly plastic tables and chairs. Besides that, you have it down to perfection!

The Mustard Seed

It’s been a few years since I’ve enjoyed dinner at Mustard Seed, but we did recently with friends Ciana and Andy Wallace. The food was terrific, owners Paul and Robin were on hand to greet us and the entrees are all reasonably priced under $20. The little house is so cozy and this great restaurant also features some of the best patio dining in Davis! Don’t miss the tomato bisque soup with the puff pastry! It’s a house favorite.

We met my sister, brother-in-law and niece at one of my Davis favorites, Symposium Restaurant & Pizza House. Our favorites are the pizzas that we then top with Zatsiki sauce, the lemon rice soup, the Mousaka, the Dolmas that are served warm and topped with warm lemon sauce and the lamb chops. Be sure to squeeze the lemon over those chops and you’ll want to chew every last bite off of the bones. They’re that good.

If you’re heading to the bay area, don’t miss our favorite dining spots that we just visited again on a recent jaunt there with my sister and brother-in-law. At Hog Island Oyster Company in the Pier One Ferry Building the oysters are fresh and creamy and shucked in front of you, the champagne perfectly chilled, the baked oysters to die for and the grilled cheese and clam chowder on the “must order list.” If you’re lucky, Sean, a past Café Bernardo server and bartender will be your waiter and will spoil you as he does us every time we visit. At this place you can even order a ½ beer if you need a few more sips to get you through the rest of your meal. You can pull your car into the lots within a few blocks of the Ferry Building, or even better yet, pull up front to the valet parking. It’s  $10 an hour and it’s hard to find a cheaper rate than that in the city!

We also visited Betelnut on Union, one of our favorites for many, many years. Don’t leave without ordering the glazed pork short rib appetizer made with garlic and Thai basil. They’re tiny little delicacies and the meat just falls off the bone. Also not to be missed are the green papaya, shrimp and grapefruit salad, the little dragon dumplings and Szechuan green beans.

A lot of progress has been made at Our House, the restaurant that my husband Jon Sanchez is opening with The Graduate owner Charlie Swanson. Paint is on the walls, the lounge is coming together, the gorgeous Sequoia tree that was salvaged from Tahoe Park in Sacramento will now serve as the bar and the high-top community tables. The kitchen is now put together and menu development should be getting underway as well as the finishing touches like lighting, etc. The target date for opening is this June!

Finally, the word on the street is that Paesanos is coming to Davis! It will be housed in the Fuzio location. Paesanos is owned by Davisites who also own Uncle Vito’s Slice of NY. We’ll keep you posted.

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