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Sonoma - Update

So I went back to Sonoma last Saturday and I noticed that a few things had changed. First of all, the bread that came with the cheese was now a toasted Italian bread (it might have been last time as well, but the four glasses of wine I had might have made my memory of that night a little fuzzy). Spreading cheese on thin toasted bread is fairly challenging, since whenever you put slight pressure on the bread, it crumbles. This time, I paid more attention to the menu's descriptions of the cheese and ordered some that sounded better to me. My favorites of the night were the taleggio vecchio (cow) and the Pennsylvania Pipe Dreams Farm goat, which spread like cream cheese on the bread and when mixed with the figs we ordered, has some nice, sweet undertones to it. The one cheese we ordered, the ricotta salata, actually didn't come on our plate, but instead we were given what looked to be like a blue cheese. I know this now because I just looked up what ricotta salata is supposed to look like, and what was on out plate was surely not that. At the time however, when the expeditor brought the cheese to our table, he pointed to the cheese and said it was ricotta. Amy and I looked at each other very puzzled-like and just shrugged out shoulders. Sadly, I'm not the cheese expert that I'd like to be and I didn't speak up and say, "But that looks like blue cheese to me."

Other changes...the focaccia was missing the rosemary, which I thought was a welcome change, and to add a little more detail -- whatever they're grilling the focaccia on has quite a bit of smoke to it. Be ready to ask for more bread, because they only gave me three pieces when I ordered the pate, salami and bresaola (which they actually had spelled on the menu as bresola?) -- so that's one slice of bread per meat selection. Amy ordered the pizza, and I'm happy to report that my first impressions from looking at it were 100% correct. The crust was bland as I've ever had and you all know that imho, the crust is the most important part of the pizza. The only thing separating it from what I used to get at my high school cafeteria, was the fresh toppings. The fresh marinara that the red pizza she ordered came with was very chunky and was made with very fresh tomatoes. I, on the otherhand, ordered the wagyu burger which was very good (in fact, I thought it was better than the $10 burger at Palena), which came out a perfect medium just as I had ordered it. I also asked for the pancetta and fontina which added a nice, salty flavor to the meat, although I wondered if it would have taste as good without the extra toppings. The meat was juicy, which I find isn't always the case with burgers made with beef like wagyu which tends to be a little dryer sometimes because restaurants use leaner beef. There were some changes to the menu. For  instance, the arugula and fennel salad that I commented on in my first post, was absent from the menu, but that's expected since Sonoma's web site says that they'll change the menu often depending on what ingredients are in season.

More on Sonoma...



It's been a really long time since you posted this, but on the off-chance that anyone else searches through your archives I thought I'd comment on my recent trip to Sonoma. While I don't think this is a place you'd go to again and again b/c of the limited menu, I do think it's a nice place for a big group of friends who love tasting different wines with some small plates. The cheeses and duck sausage we had were great, venison carpaccio was very good (from someone who is only just starting to eat red meat again after 10 years), gnocchi with duck ragu was solid, and the carbonara was out of this world.

You didn't really mention the excellent wine by the glass/taste selection at reasonable prices. My only real complaint was that our server's wine recommendations weren't good so from now on I'll choose my own wines when I go. She was able to explain all the unfamiliar italian grapes though, which was nice.

Overall I think it's worth a trip and the lounge upstairs has a great atmosphere, although both places are loud (doesn't bother me).

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