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Grand Central Café takes off in Petaluma

This past Saturday, we had the pleasure of checking out Petaluma’s newest café – Grand Central Café (226 Weller St.) for the grand opening. What an incredible location. Everybody is used to seeing those gorgeous photos of out downtown, shot from the east, either from in the river or from the other side of the Turning Basin. However, while standing in the downtown, you never get that view because you are standing in it. Well, Grand Central’s relaxing seating area (with custom-built Adirondack chairs) offers the live version of the Petaluma downtown postcard. And with music added to last Saturday’s festivities, I can see Grand Central becoming a very popular spot as they expand their hours and offerings.

And although their café kitchen is not yet up and running, we were able to enjoy food from Trade Secret Chef (Brenda, formerly of Secret Kitchen), including an excellent sausage sandwich (using Caggiano sausages from here in Petaluma), an exquisite quinoa salad and a perfectly baked sweet empanada. Grand Central has plans to have Trade Secret Chef pop-up regularly at this location. We finished out our meal with an ice cream bar from Mariposa Ice Creamery, because why wait until you get home to raid your ice box for Mariposa ice cream when you can buy something fresh right there at lunch? A last-minute addition to the grand opening, we were excited to see Relax and Eat Bread’s tent and stocked up on several loafs, including a seed-rich rye that literally looked like a piece of artwork, and tasted even better. We also secured a couple of their wonderful chocolate chip cookies but the pièce de résistance was being able to grab a bag of their hard-to-get English muffins. We’ve never had a better English muffin and are finding any excuse to include one with every meal since Saturday’s purchase. Currently, Grand Central is offering some of their staples, such as coffee and chocolate imported from Ecuador. Check “Grand Central Petaluma” on Facebook for their latest hours and offerings.

Don’t skip the fries at Scowley’s Burgers, which come plain or covered in cheese and chili. (Photo courtesy of Scowley’s)
Don’t skip the fries at Scowley’s Burgers, which come plain or covered in cheese and chili. (Photo courtesy of Scowley’s)

Inside at Scowley’s Burgers

Scowley’s Burgers announced that as of today, Thursday, April 8, they will finally open their dining room for in-person dining. Out of respect for the safety of his staff, owner Robert Gaustad chose to wait until they could all get vaccinated before opening the indoors. This is a first for Scowley’s, which opened this past fall, during the pandemic shutdown, and has had to rely on take-out and delivery (through Petaluma Food Taxi) in order to launch the restaurant. Looking forward, Robert plans to add draught beer and a couple of TVs so sports fans can enjoy the upcoming baseball and football seasons. He also plans a small “novelty freezer” for specialty ice cream bars and if he can find a place to put the machine, and hopes to offer milkshakes shortly. Scowley’s is located at 229 N. McDowell Blvd. and the menu can be found at scowleys.com. You can read my recent article about Scowley’s in the online at Petaluma360.com

Tri-tip dinner for a cause

I have a hard time passing up on a tri-tip dinner, especially when it’s a fundraiser, so the upcoming Scouts BSA Troop 9 tri-tip to-go fundraiser has me licking my chops. Pre-ordering is required and that deadline is April 12 for pickup at the Elim Lutheran Church Parking Lot (220 Stanley St.) on Saturday, April 17, from 3 to 5 p.m. Dinner is a whole grilled, marinated and seasoned tri-tip for four, plus one quart of cowboy beans, a baguette, a salad kit and chocolate chip cookies, all for just $50. You can also buy dinner for friends, families or local heroes and then just have them drop by Elim to pick up their order. Additionally, they are also seeking donations to help Troop 9 scouts get to a week-long camp this summer. Orders can be placed at my.cheddarup.com/c/troop-9-scouts-bsa. “Online payment is preferred but if needed we can accommodate checks and cash on a case-by-case basis; also some delivery may be possible in certain circumstances.” (Call John Schempf at 481-9766 for more info.) People are asked to follow COVID protocols, by wearing mask and socially distancing.

Charcuterie boards

The Small Business Spring Sale Extravaganza is this Saturday, April 10, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the parking lot of Pinky’s Pizza with all sorts of great finds, including Elderberry syrup varieties, leather goods and jewelry, patriotic flags and tumblers, organic body scrubs, succulents and planters, candles and Color Street Nails. But what caught my attention at the last sale were the handmade charcuterie boards from Of the Woods, which boarders on Pinky’s parking lot. So often, we put together a quick charcuterie platter for surprise guests, only to find that the boring old cutting board we usually use does not do the trick. A dedicate charcuterie board is a nice thing to have on hand and Of the Woods makes some beautiful ones. We are even thinking of having something custom made.

Plant sale

If you are looking for “a great selection of organic vegetables, perennials, succulents and drought-tolerant plants, all grown and nurtured with the expert skills” of the Petaluma Garden Club’s members, and all to support a good cause, check out the annual plant sale on Saturday, April 10, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1939 Castle Drive. They will also have pots, tools and other garden-related items for sale, all to help support local charities, including Petaluma Educational Foundation and SRJC scholarships. Masks and social distancing required.

Spring Hill Open Air Market

On Sunday, April 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Spring Hill Gardens (384 Spring Hill Road) will hold an open-air market to support local vendors, including Mariposa Ice Creamery, Kind King Clothing, Dismal Things, Art by Jonny, Stony Point Pottery, Lucia Art, Artful Dodge, Rountree Fairy Homes, Teatime with Laine, Mayberry Knittery, Steele Botanica, Bloomfield Fine Gods, Just one Art, Soma Sourdough, Color Street Nails, Inspired Acrylics, Spoonful of Sugar and Buddy’s Farm Honey. Pets are not allowed, kids are (accompanied by an adult) and masks are mandatory.

Petaluma People’s Choice Awards

In case you missed it, the Petaluma People’s Choice Awards final voting round ends this Sunday, April 11. Visit Petaluma360.com to vote for your favorite businesses, professionals and restaurants.

Sip & Donate

For the entire month of April, a portion of every bottle purchased online from both Barber Cellars and Barber Lee Spirits offers the opportunity to donate to the Petaluma Active 20-30 Club and all the great work that they do around Petaluma. Simply select “Petaluma Active 20-30” at checkout at barbercellars.com and barberleespirits.com.

Dino’s Greek Food Truck can be found at The Block — Petaluma Thursday through Sunday. (HOUSTON PORTER/FOR THE ARGUS-COURIER)
Dino’s Greek Food Truck can be found at The Block — Petaluma Thursday through Sunday. (HOUSTON PORTER/FOR THE ARGUS-COURIER)

Dino's Greek Easter

Greek Easter isn’t until May 2, but Dino’s Greek Food Truck isn’t going to make you wait that long for its Easter giveaway. Up until this Friday, April 9, order from Dino’s (permanently at the Block – Petaluma Thursdays through Sundays), write your name and phone number on your receipt, and give it to one of Dino’s employees and you will be entered to win a $200 Greek prize pack. The drawing will be on Saturday, April 10, and the package will include Greek imported goodies, as well as house-baked tsoureki. “Tradition has it that the tsoureki symbolizes the resurrection of Christ and rebirth in general as the flour is molded into shape and rises and takes on life as it transforms into its final shape. The red-dyed egg which is usually placed on top of the braid symbolizes the blood of Jesus.”

Zimi’s Pizza

Dino also let me know that plans are moving ahead on his re-opening of the pizza joint at the Block, newly christened Zimi’s, with his hopes that they will host some sort of soft opening around the 20th of this month. As soon as Zimi’s has finalized their menu, Dino promises to pass it along so readers can take a look.

Clam pizza

While on the topic of pizza, yes, you read that correctly – there is such thing as a clam pizza. First appearing in New Haven, Connecticut, Frank Pepe opened his pizzeria in 1925 and it was his clam pizza that helped put him on the map. A thin-crust Napoletana-style pizza, Frank’s clam pizza was a white pie with mozzarella, garlic, oregano, a swirl of olive oil and of course, clams. Recently, Jim Kovarik posted the question on the Petaluma Foodies page on Facebook that he was looking for a clam pizza pie here in Petaluma. Some voiced a disbelief that such a thing even existed, while others were skeptical of its existence locally. Sure enough though, Petalumans came up with several suggestions. Although we have had a clam pizza before at Hank’s, it does not appear to be on their current online menu, but when it reappears, we recommend trying it.

However, it was Hector’s Pizza that got the most nods, and Jim reported back, “The winner was Hector's! It was the bomb!”

Kim Rolly Brothers pointed out that, “the lemon has a great kick to it” and Michelle Barry concurred on the choice – “love that pizza! The capers add such a great flavor!”

Maya Celeste reminded us that Huria’s in Bodega also makes a clam pizza. We haven’t been to the Bodega location but had the pleasure of trying their food when they used to do pop-ups at HenHouse and always loved the food. Their clam pizza is actually called “The Bodega” and features Bechamel (white sauce), ocean clams, fresh mozzarella, garlic, green onions, fresh parsley, olive oil and chili lemon. Huria’s is located at 1400 N. Highway 1, Bodega Bay.

Movie theater re-opens

The downtown movie theater has reopened, which will hopefully get more folks into the Theatre District for pre- and post-movie meals. With the weather warming up, why not give yourself an extra hour or so to enjoy the surround eateries, which are within steps of the theater include Pho Sonoma, Trattoria Roma, Hank’s and La Dolce Vita.

Owner Christian Caiazzo and Katrina Fried in front of Stellina Pronto in Petaluma. (PHOTO BY RAY TANG)
Owner Christian Caiazzo and Katrina Fried in front of Stellina Pronto in Petaluma. (PHOTO BY RAY TANG)

Hiring

Stellina Pronto is hiring full and part-time for “baristas, assistant bakers, pastry, porters/dishwashing.” Stellina Pronto is the new Italian bakery, salad and sandwich shop that is going into Bovine Bakery’s former location. Submit resume and cover letters to jobs@stelinapronto.com.

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