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Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria, Geyserville

I just reheated them. By the way, I froze half of one and had it a week later - hard to believe it was ever frozen it held up so well. And the service was wonderfully friendly as well.

Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria, Geyserville

Got there at 3 in the afternoon last week and picked up a Diavola and a Cicciona to take home. Added a little of their homemade salami to one of the pies. Bottom line - absolutely terrific. Great crust, toppings of remarkable integrity and taste, and yum from first bite to last. Not to be missed if you're in the area.

21021 Geyserville Ave, Geyserville, CA 95441

Calistoga recs

Had dinner last night at Solbar. Outstanding. Don't miss the pork cheek tacos with pickled bird's eye chilis and crema. The pork had the texture of tongue and its soft unctuousness was perfectly balanced against the heat of the chilis and the sweetness of the crema. A real crunchy delight - and a very generous appetizer portion to boot. This upvalley treasure boasts great service, a lovely room, and a terrific seasonal menu. If you're coming to Calistoga Solbar and nearby Jole are in a class by themselves - even if I am a little prejudiced since I live there.

Good Wine Shop Santa Rosa/Healdsburg

Tip Top Liquor Warehouse - 90 Dry Creek Road - great selection including lots of inexpensive wines. And then proceed down Dry Creek Road and go wine tasting!

Rosso Pizzeria-Santa Rosa

Never had the meatballs - but having been to Rosso's four or five times now I can safely say that the pizza is the best I've had in northern california, the anchovy spread should be marketed nationally, and the roast pig special truly special indeed. The one disappointment I've had was the night they had softshells. I'd avoid those but run don't walk to Rosso's for sweet service, fair prices, great wines by the glass (reds were a tad warm for my taste), and incomparably delicious pizza made with artisanal ingredients and obviously a lot of loving care.

Texas BBQ in Sebastopol !!!

Unfortunately my experience yesterday was quite unlike yours. I stopped for takeout and found the young woman behind the register pleasant and efficient. It was the product I took home that disappointed. I started with an a la carte order of rib tips. This proved to be four small rib ends that were barely charred but certainly very tasty. But for $4.50 there was no value for the dollar. The side of mac and cheese tasted like Stouffer's, and though I like Stouffer's I certainly expect more from a professional kitchen than the taste of a frozen entree. The much praised stuffed new potatoes were slightly undercooked and the "stuffing" had the size,shape, and thickness of a nickel. Nothing to excvite your taste buds. And now for the one pound of brisket I took home. Following their careful but easy instructions I spread the brisket in a pan and added the small container of juice (basically au jus) they packed with the meat. There wasn't enough to cover but I did the best I could, slowly reheating the meat per the instructions. Unhappily, it was bone dry. Although the meat was nicely smoked it lacked everything I relish in Texas BBQ. There were no carmelized bits of rub, in fact no taste of rub at all. There was no fat or marbling whatsoever, and the cut tasted more like round than brisket. The slices were short, stubby and thick . Haven't they learned how to slice a brisket!? For $19 a pound I know these guys can do better. But right now I think they should go back to the smoker and rethink their menu. Sorry if that stings, but the brisket I make on my Cajun grill is a whole lot tastier.

Is Tadich Grill worth the trip?

Couldn't agree with you more, Shannon. My partner and I took a friend from New York for dinner there last night. Not a memorable evening. The Ramos fizzes were worth the price of admission, but the oysters on the half shell were watery and flavorless - probably the worst oysters I've ever had and I've had many. Two of us ordered the crab cakes. Consistency was excellent but flavor (and crabbiness) was sorely lacking. My partner had the sand dabs and they were the highlight of the evening. As for the sides - limp broccoli and rice with nothing recognizable in it (an ersatz pilaf?) - they would have been quite at home in a school cafeteria. Service was excellent. We got there at 5:15 and were immediatley seated. When we left at 6:30 they were stacked up at the bar waiting for tables. I love the atmosphere, the little private dining rooms, the feeling of old San Francisco all brass fittings and wainscoting, but I suspect lunch is a lot better than dinner - at least you won't be that disappointed if your midday meal is mediocre. Anyone for Sam's?

Heading to wine country next weekend

Can't help with Santa Rosa. For Napa Valley I like Jole and Solage in Calistoga, Bouchon and Ad Hoc in Yountville, Bistro Giovanni at the outskirts of Napa. Cindy's in St. Helena is also very reliable.

Anyone been to the new Bottega Ristorante in Yountville?

Six of us had dinner there last night and it was not a very successful evening. For one, they apparently lost our reservation although they did manage to find us a terrific table. The room itself is wonderful - roomy, comfortable, with a noise level that allowed for conversation without getting laryngitis. Several of us started with a roasted octopus appetizer. Four were ordered but unfortunately only three made it to the table. The fourth arrived with apologies five minutes later. The octopus itself was quite tender and delicious although I would have preferred a bit more char to bring out the sweetness of the flesh. Served atop a bed of cool to cold potatoes it made for an unhappy contrast in temperature . On to the next course. We all ordered pastas. They arrived in little dishes better suited to a bowl of cornflakes. Not only was the presentation unappetizing, but the pasta with cherrystone clams and Calabrese sausage had ample nuggets of the latter but nary a mollusk in sight. I called over the maitre d' and asked him where the clams were (feeling a bit like I was reliving a Seinfeld episode). "They're in there," he replied. "In where?" I asked. "In the sauce." Nevertheless, he offered to bring additional sauce to the table. That too seemed distinctly lacking in clam flavor. All this was done with great politeness by the way, with no attitude or annoyance on the part of the staff . Interestingly, when I asked him why he was doing the dish such a disservice by presenting it in a little bowl he told me that was the intention. They actually want to discourage diners from ordering pasta as their main course. I told him that the appetizer was $13 and the pasta was $14 and $27 for dinner on a Monday night (not counting dessert and corkage) was more than enough for a local such as myself. The olive oil cake for dessert was not to my taste, but that's a personal matter. Service was reasonable with several lapses including an overeager server who snatched my wineglass away before I had a chance to finish what was left - and there was more in the bottle. As I watched the busboy stacking the dishes at the end of the table I wondered if Bottega had forgotten they were a restaurant and not a luncheonette. Oh well, I'm sure the tourists will be fighting each other to get a reservation. I'll take Jole and Solage in Calistoga, or Bouchon and Ad Hoc across the street in Yountville.

Another Dinner @ S & T Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant, SF

It's hard to describe - it's much more unctuous (in a good way), and with less discernible fat. Also it was cut for us and all the pieces had a uniform texture. I thought the beans underneath were anise flavored soy beans, but I may be wrong. They sure were a tasty accompaniment.

Jole Restaurant, Calistoga Anyone Been

I ate there this Tuesday and had a terrific meal. The menu is quite inventive, the service low key but extremely attentive, and the corkage fee modest - they even comped our third bottle. Two small dishes and a dessert made for a very tasty dinner that was also reasonably priced. I had the pequino stuffed with fresh crab as well as the smoked sweetbreads and both were absolutely delicious. Our party of six stayed four hours, were never rushed, and left feeling as if our home town of Calistoga had something to really crow about.

How Does Your Garlic Grow? are terrific. Karen and Mike are the owners and they offer FIFTY varieties. I just received my order from them - everything was beautifully packed, labeled, and I can't wait to get them in the ground - last year I put them in right after Labor Day and had a great harvest in early April.

Aug 22, 2008
upvalley in Features