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Columnist Houston Porter offers round 2 of his ’Easter treats and eats’ in Petaluma

We were sure there would be more Easter feast announcement after last week’s column and sure enough, a few more options came hopping in. However, on this holiday more than most, make those reservations and pre-orders early because this is the first major holiday in over a year for which our restaurants are offering limited indoor dining. They are sure to be backed up, especially because many are struggling to find staff. Additionally, please keep in mind that Easter is one of the few holidays when many of our local restaurants close. Some regularly close, while other will be closed this year because they are short staffed and this is as good a time as any to give their hardworking kitchen and serving crew a day off with the family. So, make sure you double-check with your favorites if you plan to eat out or order take-out the day of to make sure they are actually open, and if they are, order early as Easter 2021 is likely to be a blockbuster.

Along with last week’s announcements, new additions to the Easter feast menu include Penngrove Market, Beyond the Glory, April Pantry and Café Bellini. Check with them directly for availability as Easter is now less than a week away and restaurants are still trying to avoid over-ordering from their suppliers.

Penngrove Market (penngrovemarket.com) is offering dinner for four of Boar’s Head glazed ham, creamy veggie gratin with leeks, broccoli and cauliflower, twice baked potatoes with black pepper pecorino and chives and organic mixed greens, all for $60. We thoroughly enjoyed Penngrove Market’s Passover dinner for four last week for the same price, and could not believe how much food there was. However, we were not surprised at all at how tasty the meal was, which is what we have come to expect from Penngrove Market’s kitchen. They are also offering lemon meringue tarts and hot cross buns for Easter dessert, although we never leave the store without a pint or three of the Penngrove Market exclusive chocolate chip cookie ice cream from Mariposa Ice Creamery, made with large chunks of Penngrove Market’s house-made cookies.

Beyond the Glory (btgpetaluma.com) is also offering a family-style meal for four for $65 with a choice of meat (lamb chops, barbecue ribs or BTG house made marinated tri-tip), choice of salad (garden salad or Caesar), red potato salad, house made baked beans with ham and sourdough bread.

April Pantry is known for its food that’s almost too pretty to eat. (Photo courtesy April Pantry)
April Pantry is known for its food that’s almost too pretty to eat. (Photo courtesy April Pantry)

April Pantry (aprilpantry.com) is becoming a perennial special meal favorite and Easter is right up their alley. They are offering delivery or pick-up between 3 and 6 p.m. on Sunday, with everything packaged in eco-friendly containers or reusable recycled plastics. The full-size order is $150 and will serve four, while the half order is $75 and serve two. Dinner starts with an Easter egg basket filled with hand-decorated hard-boiled eggs, chocolates and confections and ends with lemon rhubarb cake with lemon glaze. In-between is a spring farmers salad (tender spring lettuces, thinly shaved colorful Easter egg radishes, sugar snap peas, edible flowers and micro greens, topped with house-made herb yogurt ranch dressing), roast of lamb (marinated in sweet orange flowers, garlic and yuzu and comes with ginger mint-lime yogurt sauce), charred springtime farm veggies (asparagus, rainbow carrots and spring onions with lemon aioli), green garlic mashed potatoes with crème fraiche and chives and “pull apart” buttery dinner rolls with edible flower power herb butter. Dinner also includes a side of sweet pea and mint raviolis with tarragon cream sauce, unless you want to opt for the vegetarian dinner, in which case these raviolis are served in a larger portion as your main, in place of the lamb.

Some of the offerings from the mimosa bar at Cafe Bellini. (Submitted photo)
Some of the offerings from the mimosa bar at Cafe Bellini. (Submitted photo)

Café Bellini’s (thecafebellini.com) Easter special is herb-crusted prime rib with au jus, served with mashed potatoes and seasonal veggies, all for $29 per person. This menu item is available starting at 3 p.m. on Sunday and will run until it is sold out. And don’t forget that Café Bellini has a full bar as well as plenty of other great food items if that prime rib sells out. In fact, they offer several family-style meals which feeds four to five people, depending on how hungry your family is. Currently, they have a fried chicken meal (two whole chickens, mashed potatoes, gravy, coleslaw and four biscuits, $75), roasted tri-tip (plus mashed potatoes, gravy, barbecue sauce and fresh vegetables, $65) and spaghetti and meatballs (blend of ground chuck and pork sausages meat balls, marinara sauce, spaghetti noodles and parmesan cheese, $65) A family-style garden salad with choice of two dressing is an additional $18.

Persian pop-up

As promised in last week’s column, I have more information on the Boro Baba (eatborobaba.com) pop-up schedule for this Sunday, April 4, between 5:30 and 8 p.m. at La Dolce Vita wine bar. Boro Baba is owned and operated by Petaluma native Navid Manoochehri, whose first job ever was as a busser at JM Rosen’s Waterfront Grill. If there is enough interest, Navid hopes to offer more local pop-ups as he searches for a brick-and-mortar location.

We placed our order with Boro Baba like normal when we run into a new-to-us cuisine, which means we ordered one of everything on the menu, including the Doogh (yogurt-mint soda) and Albaloo Soda (sour cherry soda). I find that often, the oddest sounding thing ends up being the most interesting, so am really looking forward to the Doogh. The three mains are Joojeh Kabob (saffron and yogurt marinated chicken tenders with basmati rice and roasted tomato), Ribeye Cap Kabob (marinated ribeye cap with basmati rice and roasted tomato) and yes, the vegan Ghormé Sabzi (herb stew, mushrooms, Rancho Gordo beans and basmati rice. When it comes to Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, I never shy away from the veggie dishes. We also order all four sides (Mast-o-Khiar, Shirazi Salad, Feta and Herbs and Noon Barbari), as well as dessert, which is a saffron-rose Rice Krispie Treat with pistachios and cinnamon. For all those new and excited flavors, the bill came in at tidy $75, which for two, plus the inevitable left-overs, is worth it to get our hand on a cuisine we’ve never tasted before. Pre-orders are required and can be placed at Boro Baba’s website.

Grand opening

Grand Central Café will hold their soft opening this Saturday, April 3, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at their newly renovated 226 Weller St. location, in what was originally the ticket depot for the Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railway Company (although the building was moved decades ago from a slightly different location). While awaiting their café food service permit, Grand Central will be offering their retail products, which include Ecuadorian cacao, chocolate and other imported artisanal items, as well as their own brand of coffee and local wares from Nomad Botanicals, Wild Oat Hallow, Petaluma Coffee and Tea, and ice cream from Mariposa Ice Creamery. Additionally, the one and only Trade Secret Chef Brenda Anderson, formerly of Secret Kitchen, will be on hand serving up her special treats, including empanadas.

New owners are getting ready to open a bar in the old Whisper Sisters location on Washington at Kentucky. (CRISSY PASCUAL/ARGUS-COURIER STAFF)
New owners are getting ready to open a bar in the old Whisper Sisters location on Washington at Kentucky. (CRISSY PASCUAL/ARGUS-COURIER STAFF)

New no-name bar

The owners of the yet-to-be-named new bar and eatery at the recently shuttered Whisper Sister location indulged my request for information and were happy to share their vision for the new space, to which they only just got the keys to this past Saturday. Co-owners Dustin Sullivan and Jared Rogers tell me, “…the nuance of the concept develops over time as you pick up on the energy and rhythm of the neighborhood. Trust me, I love a new bar as much (or more) than probably anyone, but I know that from an operator's standpoint, taking the time to pay attention to detail and build the right brand and the right identity for the community only leads to more fulfilling and consistent guest experiences down the road. And at the end of the day, our goal is to make as many people happy as possible.”

These certainly sound like words of wisdom, so it comes as no surprise that the pair have partnered before (and currently) at the successful Guesthouse restaurant in Kentfield. They tell me that their general plan is to open a “friendly, welcoming, laid-back, neighborhood-y, high quality American bar” that is simple, approachable but executed at the highest levels. The two recognize how important family dining is so are planning to have some good options in that category, too. They have a lot to do before opening, which they are hoping will be sometime in late summer or early fall. In the meantime, they are excited to be opening here in Petaluma and look forward to becoming part of the community. And although the name on the ABC license notification reads “Good Buddy,” they say that this is just a working title and may change as the space evolves and finds its own character.

Shuckery shakes up cocktails

Across the intersection from “Good Buddy,” the ABC notice in the window of the Shuckery had me a bit worried, but owner Jazmine Lalicker was nice enough to appease my anxiety when she took some time out of her busy day to message me that all was okay. In fact, there are great things are on the horizon at Petaluma’s only oyster bar and favorite seafood restaurant, including an upcoming cocktail menu. There are several reasons a restaurant will post a Department of Alcohol Beverage Control “Public Notice of Application to Sell Alcoholic Beverages” sign in their window. Yes, sometimes it means the business is selling to a new owner, while other times, it is required because one owner is buying out another owner. Basically, any change in the status of the license or the owners of the license required public notification. In the case of the Shuckery, Jaz tells me that they are in the process of adding liquor to their current beer and wine service, hence the notice. This means cocktails will soon be available alongside the Shuckery’s great seafood dishes. Jaz has always been creative with the Shuckery’s beer and wine list so we can’t wait to see what she and her staff come up with for cocktails.

Volpi’s Italian Ristorante put up a sign recently that it will be back in business May 6, after more than a year of closure. (Houston Porter/for the Argus-Courier)
Volpi’s Italian Ristorante put up a sign recently that it will be back in business May 6, after more than a year of closure. (Houston Porter/for the Argus-Courier)

Volpi’s is (almost) back

Anyone driving by Volpi’s over the past week may have seen the big “Volpi’s Opening May 6th Thursday” sign in the window. When they originally closed due to the pandemic, the word on the street was that they would remain closed until they could again host guests for inside seating. That day has finally come and is only about a month away. Many have inquired on social media if they can make reservations, but a Volpi’s representative has yet to respond.

Now hiring

There are a lot of restaurants looking to hire as things open back up, with the most recent ad to catch my eye is from Route One Bakery & Kitchen in Tomales. Since opening last summer, we can’t help but stop by Route One for great pizza and pastries on our way out to Dillon Beach. And if they have anything left on our way back through Tomales, we grab some treats to bring home too. Shannon Gregory is the owner, and also owns Marshal Store and really cares about what he serves. Contact him directly through Facebook if you are interested in being part of this unique team in this special spot.

New and Peruvian

A couple of readers have let me know that a new Peruvian restaurant called Bistro 201 is schedule to open in the old Kwei Bin location next to Whole Foods. I didn’t even know what Peruvian food was until Quinua Cucina Peruana opened at Petaluma Boulevard a few years ago and have loved it ever since. Hopefully, Petalumans love Peruvian as much as we do because we’re now going to have three restaurants serving this incredible cuisine. We wish the new owners the best of luck.

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