Fred Bollaci’s Top Dining in Marin County (North San Francisco Bay Area), CA!

PP= Platinum Palate. All others are Golden Palates.

Marin County

Arizmendi
1002 4th St.
San Rafael, CA
415.456.4093

Arizmendi is a worker-owned neighborhood cafe whose goal is to enhance the lives of customers, empower workers, and foster sustainable business in the community. All the artisan crafted baked goods are prepared from scratch with joy and care, along with freshly brewed locally roasted organic coffee, the “best scones” in town, and vegetarian pizza. Multiple locations in the San Francisco Bay Area.

 

Arti
7282 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
Lagunitas, CA
415.488.4700

Arti Indian Cafe, a reflection of true Indian cuisine prides itself in the textures, aroma and essential flavours from the heart of India, showcasing fresh ingredients and dishes made to order.

 

Arun
385 Bel Marin Keys Blvd.
Novato, CA
415.883.8017

Enjoy classic Thai cuisine in an unlikely setting in an industrial park, however once you step past the manicured gardens into the comfortable dining room, you will feel a world away. Legend has it that the first king of Thailand was floating down the Chao Phraya River while trying to escape from his enemies, he prayed to Buddha for protection and in return he would build a temple in his honor. After many days and nights the king lifted up his weary head to see in the distant horizon the sun rising, at that moment he knew that Buddha has delivered him safe from his enemies. As tears of  gratitude steamed down his face , he decided that horizon will be where he would build the temple and he named it Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn).

 

Baan
726 San Anselmo Ave.
San Anselmo, CA
415.457.9470

Baan means house or home in English and is a symbol of comfort and wellness. Enjoy fresh, local, and seasonal food at this local favorite.

 

Bar Bocce
1250 Bridgeway
Sausalito, CA
415.331.0555

A Sausalito water front hangout offering a fair priced menu of bright garden salads, one-of-a-kind sourdough pizza, and a vast selection of local beer & wine. Our outdoor setting is elevated by a fire pit enhanced back patio, bocce court and sweeping views of Richardson Bay. Relax with a laid-back vibe as you unwind overlooking the Sausalito Harbor.

 

Barrel House Tavern
660 Bridgeway
Sausalito, CA
415.729.9593

A Northern California vibe, attentive hospitality, and a locally sourced seasonal menu. Located in historic downtown Sausalito overlooking the Bay with breathtaking views of San Francisco’s city scape, Treasure Island and The Bay Bridge, Barrel House Tavern is an inviting waterfront oasis and a lively destination. Landmarked as a historical building, this location was once home to the first ferry terminal to and from San Francisco, before the Golden Gate Bridge was built. Now converted into a modern casual eatery with contemporary twists on rustic comfort food.

 

Blue Barn Gourmet
2105 Chestnut St.
Corte Madera, CA
415.927.1104
Also in San Francisco

Blue Barn Gourmet is a neighborhood deli dedicated to quality food in both flavor and harvest with chef driven and product oriented menu with thoughtful salads, toasted sandwiches, grilled cheese and soups for a clientele that values quality, ingredients and convenience from a local artisan. Blue Barn is partnered with many local producers and are inspired most by the seasonal produce harvests of Oak Hill Farm, a small, sustainable, and family-run farm located in Sonoma.

 

Buckeye Roadhouse
15 Shoreline Hwy.
Sausalito, CA
415.331.2600

Buckeye Roadhouse is the quintessential Marin County dining mainstay since 1937. Enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine in the cozy rustic bar before entering the beautiful Aspen lodge-style dining room adorned with vaulted ceilings and magnificent river-rock fireplace. Once seated partake in some mouthwatering favorites, featuring fresh, local ingredients to create delicious traditional American cuisine with a Californian contemporary twist.

Owner Peter Schumacher was born in Switzerland and grew up under the tutelage of his families restaurants learning the breadth of the business from the kitchen to the front-of-house. He spent his post-graduate travels absorbing global cultures and culinary flavors throughout Europe and North and South America. He settled down to hone his skills in New York City at the Grand Central Oyster Bar and the Drake Hotel where he worked with Jean Georges Vongerichten. In 1992, Peter migrated West to San Francisco with his wife Liz and joined the managing team at BIX. With it’s colorful jazz club scene and Supper Club cuisine, BIX became the place to be. Stepping into the renovated Buckeye Roadhouse in 1999, Peter’s dream of creating a sophisticated yet comforting restaurant has become reality. The Buckeye continues to provide customers with excellent food and hospitality.

Executive Chef-Owner Robert Price graduated from the City of Bath Culinary Institute in Bath, England in 1983. Upon graduation, he secured a position at The Capital Hotel in London, a Michelin Star restaurant where he worked under Executive Chef Brian Turner for four years. In 1990 Robert met Bruce Marder (a pioneer in Californian Cuisine) and fell in love with the West Coast’s food bounty. His new passion quickly earned him Executive Chef at West Beach Cafe where he stayed for four years. In 1994 Robert opened “Rumpus” in Union Square, San Francisco and was named “A Rising Star Chef” by Michael Bauer for the San Francisco Chronicle a year later.

 

Bungalow 44
44 E. Blithedale Ave.
Mill Valley, CA
415.381.2500

Located in the heart of downtown Mill Valley, CA and just a short 20 minute drive from San Francisco, Bungalow 44 has been the best neighborhood hotspot since opening its doors in 2005. Comfortable, quaint and stylish with a menu offering creative California cuisine, Bungalow 44 is a favorite dining destination for Mill Valley residents and visitors alike. Guests seeking upbeat nightlife will enjoy the relaxed bar that boasts extensive wine and beer selections, as well as, crafty specialty cocktails. The cozy dining room with leather banquettes is often abuzz with lively conversation and laughter making Bungalow 44 an ideal restaurant for an evening with friends. The dinner menu created by chefs Michael Pihl and Robert Price includes a variety of seasonally inspired dishes and wood grilled specialties that emphasize local, fresh ingredients. Among the most popular dishes at Bungalow 44 are Housemade Gnocchi, “Harry’s Bar” Tuna Carpaccio, Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad, Braised Short Ribs, and Kickin’ Fried Chicken.

 

Burmatown
60 Corte Madera Ave.
Corte Madera, CA
415.945.9096

A mixture of Burmese cuisine along with innovative asian fusion dishes. Our menu is designed family style as we offer an eclectic array of communal plates and bites for all to enjoy.

Burmatown was founded by a mother and daughter who wanted to build something everlasting together. They started this journey in 2014 when the old Sea Thai location opened up. Both Jenny (mom) and Jennifer (daughter) both new to the industry decided to quit their normal jobs and open their restaurant. Mom went through a journey in many different career paths to finally end up finding her calling in life. Creating and feeding people the food that she loves. Most of her culinary background came from home. She always loved hosting family and friends’ getogethers so she could bring people together through her food. Jenny was born in Burma (Myanmar) and was raised to learn the traditional Burmese style of cooking. Through her years living in San Francisco, she also learned various other Asian cuisines, which she learned to love as well. The menu at Burmatown showcases both her traditional Burmese side, as well as her modern fusion of Asian cuisines.

Daughter came from a background of working for a graphic design startup by day and bar-tending by night. She was always happy when around people. Jennifer wanted to start her career young and wanted to build a place where people could join together in one communal space. She researched day and night on how to start up a restaurant and when the perfect location showed up, took the risk and started the journey with her mom, which she considers her best friend. She now loves that she has a chance to build relationships and really get to know everyone that comes into the restaurant. Everything is prepared fresh daily–some of the popular items tend to sell out.

 

Cafe’ Reyes
11101 Shoreline Hwy.
Point Reyes Station, CA
415.663.9493

Quaint, rustic local favorite, in a spacious barn-like building with popular patio featuring wood-fired pizza and other dishes, beer, wine, and cocktails.

 

Copita
739 Bridgeway
Sausalito, CA
415.331.7400

Popular Mexican spot near the harbor with great patio with water views and a great tequila selection.

Owned by celebrity chef Joanne Weir and San Francisco restaurateur Larry Mindel. Chef Weir recently completed 30 episodes for her PBS cooking series, “Joanne Weir Gets Fresh”, where she turns her home kitchen into the classroom as she works side-by-side with a real-world student for a hands-on cooking lesson. This series will begin airing January 2015 nationwide and it marks Joanne’s 10th season on PBS.

Prior to launching her publishing, television and teaching career, from 1985 to 1990, Joanne worked at Chez Panisse, one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the United States. Joanne’s first book, From Tapas to Meze (Crown, 1994) was selected by Julia Child as one of her 12 personal favorites out of 1000 cookbooks published that year. Her talents were then showcased in the PBS series “Weir Cooking in the Wine Country”, shot on location in the Napa Valley. The companion book, “Weir’s More Cooking in the Wine Country” (Simon & Schuster, 2001) went on to garner a James Beard Award nomination and an IACP Cookbook Award nomination.

Joanne’s adopted hometown of San Francisco was the culinary setting for “Weir Cooking in the City”, her 26-part PBS series and companion book (Simon & Schuster, 2004) for which she received a James Beard Award for Best Cookbook. A completely revised version of From Tapas to Meze (Ten Speed Press, 2004) won the 2004 Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Mediterranean Cookbook.

One of Joanne’s most recent book is an exciting all-in-one reference guide, TEQUILA: A Guide to Types, Flights, Cocktails and Bites (Ten Speed Press, 2009). This book was the inspiration for Copita and is a significant resource for Copita. You can purchase your own copy and Joanne will be glad to sign it for you when you visit Copita. For more information regarding Joanne, please visit: http://www.joanneweir.com/

Larry Mindel, an American success story and entrepreneur has been at the forefront of the dining industry for over 40 years. Deeply influenced by the culinary traditions of Italy, his trailblazing restaurants influenced San Francisco dining. He began his career by selling instant coffee to local retail merchants in the Ann Arbor area while a student at the University of Michigan. He branded it “University Hall.” Larry’s career took root in San Francisco with his purchase of venerable Caswell Coffee Company (founded, 1829) for 1 million dollars in 1963. He was 26 years old and had $36.00 in the bank. Emboldened by youthful naiveté, he overestimated his power of negotiating. Unable to bring the price down, he raised the money they requested, primarily from a local bank. With passion and hard work, Caswell doubled in size for 3 years. In the 4th year, he took a leap of faith and made a 15 million dollar commitment to become the exclusive buyer of Kona coffee from Hawaii. They locked in a set price and branded it as a premium product, “Kona Coffee”. Subsequently, Caswell’s success attracted a bidding war between larger Midwestern coffee companies anxious to gain a foothold in the rapidly growing West Coast market.

Following the sale of Caswell, Larry co-founded Spectrum Foods with the purchase of Chianti restaurant in Los Angeles. He and his business partner transformed Chianti from a failing trattoria into a restaurant with the most coveted seats in Los Angeles. Under Larry’s direction, Spectrum created 14 trend setting restaurants in California. These included Ciao, with one of the nation’s first exhibition pasta-making stations, and Prego featuring a wood-fired pizza oven in the dining room. Both innovations were the result of spatial problem solving. In 1984, Saga Corporation acquired Spectrum Foods and Larry served as President of the Saga Restaurant Group, overseeing more than 200 restaurants generating a combined $375 million in annual revenue.

Upon the merger of Saga with Marriott in 1986, Larry departed and acquired Il Fornaio, negotiating the deal on the back of a napkin. At that time they were a collection of six money-losing small Italian bakeries in California. Under his direction, Il Fornaio reorganized every aspect of the operation into a bakery-backed restaurant and within ten months the first Il Fornaio Cucina Italiana e Panetteria opened in Corte Madera, California to overwhelming public and critical acclaim. By 2008 Il Fornaio operated twenty-two restaurants with annual revenues of $145 million.

Larry was the first American and the first person of non-Italian descent to be awarded the Caterina de Medici Medal from the Italian government, recognizing excellence in the preservation of Italian heritage outside of Italy. He opened Poggio Trattoria in 2003 near his home in Sausalito as the ultimate experession of his passion for Italy. For the past decade it has been a highly acclaimed, three-starred top-ranked San Francisco Bay area restaurant. In 2012, as the result of a contested margarita making competition between Larry and Joanne Weir, they co-founded Copita Tequileria y Comida together.

 

El Huarache Loco
1803 Larkspur Landing Circle
Larkspur, CA
415.925.1403

Also in San Francisco

What began as a search for the tastes of home quickly transformed into suc­cess when Chef Veronica Salazar launched El Huarache Loco in 2005 from La Cocina’s incubator kitchen in San Francisco’s Mission District. With a belief that she could make a living doing what she loved, Chef Salaza brings the colors and flavors of Mexico City to the San Francisco Bay area.

 

El Paseo
17 Throckmorton Ave.
Mill Valley, CA
415.388.0741

Originally built in the mid-1940s, the history of the Bay Area is woven deeply into the construction of El Paseo. The bricks walling in the quaint warren of rooms were reclaimed from landfill from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the thick beams, supporting many of the ceilings, were rail ties from the gravity trains used to bring visitors up Mount Tamalpais’ East Peak at the turn of the last century. Designed by noted architect Gus Costigan, who sketched his designs while serving in WWII, El Paseo is a soulful and authentic example of the California Mission-Style. With this incredible history in mind and a near life-long tradition of celebratory family meals spent at El Paseo (birthdays, Mother’s Days, recording contracts… you get the idea) Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Sammy Hagar financed the meticulous two year restoration of the property; a restoration which has enhanced El Paseo’s warmth and accentuated its timeless appeal.

With this unbelievably charming architectural backdrop El Paseo’s culinary team, headed by Chef Tyler Florence  has created a menu featuring the bounty from Marin County’s farmers and ranchers; and those efforts and attention to high quality ingredients has been recognized by both the press and the public. Every year since opening in 2011 El Paseo has been listed as a San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 Bay Area Restaurant and has received a coveted “3-stars” from San Francisco Chronicle food editor, Michael Bauer. Go-to items include Clams with saffron wine broth, dry aged steaks, signature popovers, and meyer lemon cheesecake for dessert.

 

Fish
350 Harbor Dr.
Sausalito, CA
415.331.3474

Popular seafood restaurant overlooking the harbor, serving fresh, wild, sustainable fish, in a casual setting with popular outdoor patio.

Frantoio
152 Shoreline Hwy.
Mill Valley, CA
415.289.5777

Named for the large olive oil press, the restaurant presses, bottles, and sells their own organic olive oil on site. Frantoio has been independently owned and family operated since 1995. As a supporting member of Marin Organics, we use locally sourced organic non-gmo ingredients, bringing the best Marin has to offer to our traditional northern Italian cuisine. Balancing our menu is our extensive wine list that showcases some of the best Californian and Italian vineyards.

Peaked wood beam ceilings, terra cotta tile floors and meticulously crafted lighting create a comfortable and elegant ambiance that unites rustic warmth with contemporary design. With a full bar, spacious main dining room, a private event space for large groups, commuter friendly happy hour and intimate private dining in our olive oil press room, Frantoio Ristorante provides an unsurpassed culinary experience for any occasion.

Insalata’s
120 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
San Anselmo, CA
415.457.7700

 

Owner Heidi Krahling honors her father, Italo Insulata (Salad) and became a chef during California’s culinary coming of age in the 1980s. She and her husband, Mark Krahling, opened Insalata’s in 1996 and both have worked hard to make it a central part of the San Anselmo community. Today, Heidi guides her culinary team while Mark ensures that the restaurant’s myriad components run smoothly. Their goal has always been to provide gracious service and delicious Mediterranean-inspired food to their guests while taking care of their teams of chefs and servers. Head Chef Taylor Carnes brings creativity and passion to every dish he develops. A former valet at Insalata’s, Carnes trained at the Napa Valley Cooking School and quickly worked his way up the kitchen ranks to head cuisine. Look for upscale Mediterranean cuisine with freshly baked bread.

 

Left Bank
507 Magnolia Ave.
Larkspur, CA
415.927.3331

(also in Menlo Park and San Jose)

La Rive Gauche (The Left Bank) is the southern bank of the River Seine in Paris. “Rive Gauche” or “Left Bank” generally refers to the Paris of an earlier era: the Paris of artists, writers and philosophers. The phrase implies a sense of bohemianism, counterculture and creativity. While it remains a haven for artists and bohemians, it is also the site of many wonderful and famous brasseries, including Les Deux Magots (The Two Maggots), Café Flore and Brasserie Lipp. Chef proprietor, Roland Passot epitomizes the fun and French Culture. Shopping at the Farmers Market is a ritual in France, which is replicated at Left Bank, where chefs work with local farmers and seasonal produce to create our seasonal menu items as well as the French classics you crave like Escargots, Mussels, Onion Soup, Salade Nicoise, Steak Frites, and Profiteroles.

 

Le Garage
85 Liberty Ship Way, Ste. 109
Sausalito, CA
415.332.5625

Despite being fans of opposing French soccer teams, Bruno Denis and Olivier Souvestre opened Le Garage together in April 2008. Born in Brittany, France, Olivier moved to San Francisco in 2005 and worked as Executive Chef at Chez Papa Bistrot where he met Bruno. A native of Versailles, France, General Manager Bruno has been working in the restaurant industry for the past 10 years in San Francisco. Although the soccer rivalry continues, they are committed to serving simple French bistro style food utilizing fresh local ingredients in a relaxed casual atmosphere.

 

Marche’ aux Fleurs
23 Ross Common
Ross, CA
415.925.9200

The Marché aux Fleurs is the famous farmers’ market in Nice, France. It is a daily place of
community and connection over food; in emulating this principle, we hope to offer
a place of conviviality and community.

 

Like many good things, Marché aux Fleurs was inspired by a trip to Europe. Dan and Holly Baker’s post-college graduation adventure in France and italy turned into a life-changing food experience. Inspired by the tradition of daily food markets filled with local produce, the feeling of familial intimacy in restaurant dining, and the focus on simple ingredients highlighted with masterful cooking techniques, they came back to the U.S. with a seed planted. On Valentine’s day in 2001, that seed bloomed into Marché aux Fleurs, named after their favorite daily farmers’ market in Nice. Marché aux Fleurs’ menu is informed by the French and Italian tradition of highlighting local ingredients in a simple yet masterful way. Each Thursday and Sunday, Dan and Holly make a trip to the San Rafael Civic Center Farmer’s Market where they pick up what’s fresh, seasonal, and local from their longtime friends and vendors. The cuisine is a mix of European and Californian influences with a heavy focus on seasonality and quality of ingredients above all else. Marché aux Fleurs also boasts an extensive wine list, filled with boutique and small-batch wines chosen specifically to complement the dishes.

 

Marinitas
218 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
San Anselmo, CA
415.454.8900

Marinitas features a menu inspired by dishes found throughout Mexico and Latin America using local and seasonal products. Marinitas delivers Latin focused lusciousness that is an exciting blend of the new and the familiar. Cocktails focus on the silver and gold liquors of Central and South America. The bar is dedicated to classic cocktail preparations including citrus juice squeezed to order, house made sweet and sour made from unrefined cane sugars, along with the highest quality mixers.

 

Nick’s Cove
23240 Hwy. 1
Marshall, CA
415.663.1033

Nick’s Cove Restaurant and Oyster Bar is a destination restaurant for award-winning cuisine in one of the most beautiful coastal settings in all of California. The natural beauty and abundant farm produce of the West Marin coast inspire chef Joshua Seibert’s seasonal, sustainable and delicious California cuisine. The menu is sourced from local dairy and produce farms, and the fresh seafood of Tomales Bay and nearby waters. Each dish is fresh and approachable, the perfect combination of comfort and refinement, and the very essence of elegant but hearty, farm-to-table cuisine.

The newly updated restaurant has all the nostalgic charm of an upscale hunting lodge, complete with restored mahogany bar, woodburning fireplace, reclaimed redwood tables and game trophies on the wall. You can sample our beloved crab macaroni and cheese, or oysters locally harvested from Tomales Bay and nearby Drake’s Bay, accompanied by a drink from our outstanding local wine and beer list. As the mist settles over the hills of Point Reyes, you’ll be warm and comfortable in our glass-decked restaurant, where every table has a view, surrounded by water and the glow of sunset. After hours, you can stroll to the lighted boat shack at the end of the pier, and enjoy an expertly mixed cocktail by candlelight.

Nick’s Cove is one of the last remaining historic settlements catering to the early California tourist trade on the beautiful Tomales Bay coastland. It’s served as a depot for tourism, local fishermen and agricultural operations throughout its history. The property was originally part of a vast ranch until Henry W. Hallock, President Lincoln’s chief of staff during the Civil War, bought the property in 1850 and then sold it to Jeremiah Blake, an easterner who settled on Tomales Bay at a place that became known as Blake’s Landing. During that time, the property was the site of industries as diverse as saddle making, duck raising and dairy farming. The North Pacific Coast Railroad constructed tracks along the shorefront in 1873, spanning the region from Sausalito to the Russian River, transporting passengers and freight, such as dairy products, fish and clams.

But it was the construction of a modern highway in 1930, followed by the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937, that brought a surge in tourist traffic looking for food, lodging and adventure. Marin County became a popular destination for weekend motorists, and Tomales Bay was an especially popular choice because of its excellent fishing.

The similiarity of Tomales Bay to the Adriatic Sea, with its mild winters and shallow waters, made the location a prime spot for a large Yugoslavian immigrant community. The Nick Kojich family, the original owners of Nick’s Cove, came from that Yugoslavian tradition. They built several houses atop wooden pilings near the beach, and opened a seafood restaurant selling shrimp and crab cocktails to passing tourists. Once prohibition ended in 1933, Mr. Kojich (a rumored bootlegger) began serving alcohol too.

The Kojich’s rented their water’s edge cabins to people from the San Francisco Bay area, Sacramento Valley and beyond. Tomales Bay was a favorite spot for weekend fishermen and hunters, and the Kojich’s catered to those seasonal attractions. The Kojich family remained at Nick’s Cove until their eventual retirement, when Nick’s nephew Andrew, and his wife, Dorothy, took over ownership. Andrew Matkovich was a son of bay pioneer Gregory Matkovich and had actually been born in one of the rental cabins.

Although the original restaurant burned down on the year they acquired it, the Matkovich’s rebuilt it from scratch with a full menu, specializing in local seafood. The Nick’s Cove cabins continued to flourish during the 1950s and 1960s, and became a hub for recreational fishing. The Matkovich’s hosted an annual Stingray Derby and a Shark Derby, and held traditional events such as clam digs and crab feeds. Visitors would often tie up at the pier for a meal at the restaurant, and many fishing boats would sell directly to the restaurant, which determined the evening’s menu.

In 1973, the widow Dorothy Matkovich sold Nick’s Cove to Alfred and Ruth Gibson, ending more than 40 years of family ownership. The Gibson’s ran the business on very similar lines, and continued to attract hunters, fishermen, nature lovers and unsuspecting travelers who stumbled upon a restaurant/motel full of character and scenic beauty. Guests included university professors, writers, sportsmen, kayakers, and a private pilot who rented one of the cabins every time he flew into the Bay Area. Under the Gibsons, the popularity of Nick’s Cove continued to grow, and further improvements were made to the property. After Al Gibson’s death, Ruth Gibson continued to operate the restaurant and rental business until maintaining the property proved too costly.

The current owners of Nick’s Cove have taken special care to maintain the integrity of its traditional architecture in recognition of the cottages’ historical importance. These cabins reflects the coastal vernacular style common to the community, and they have been carefully preserved, while improving their decor to accommodate modern amenities, without damaging their historical qualities. Rooms are available for those looking for a great weekend getaway.

 

Osteria Stellina
11285 Hwy. 1
Point Reyes Station, CA
415.663.9988

Situated just a short drive from San Francisco, in a pastoral nook of West Marin triangulated by rolling agrarian hills, the Point Reyes National Seashore, and the heel of Tomales Bay, Chef-Proprietor Christian Caiazzo’s Osteria Stellina is a small-town restaurant with a national reputation for serving rustic delicious meals made strictly from the freshest organic ingredients available. Since opening in 2008, Osteria Stellina (little star) features a daily printed menu has been a reflection of the surrounding region’s ever-evolving seasonal supply of local produce, meats, cheeses, and seafood. Sourcing ingredients within the local close-knit and robust community of farmers, ranchers, and fisherman, combined with a rotating list of local craft beers and wines

Chef-Proprietor Christian Caiazzo: An accomplished veteran of many high-profile restaurants, including Postrio in San Francisco and Union Square Café in New York City, Chef Caiazzo cooked in professional kitchens throughout the country for more than twenty years before settling in the Bay Area and opening Osteria Stellina in 2008. After moving to the tiny town of Point Reyes Station to learn more about the burgeoning American artisan cheese movement, he became firmly enamored with the local culture and soon began to envision opening a restaurant where locals and visitors could gather elbow to elbow and enjoy the abundance of spectacular regional products in a gracious, inviting setting. He imagined an unpretentious menu of sophisticatedly clean dishes that highlighted the flavors of West Marin. Thus, Osteria Stellina, named after his daughter, was born.

Look for: House marinated olives, the soothing Acini di pepe in brodo: tiny pasta in chicken broth, Parmigiano Reggiano & fresh parsley, Chicory mix salad with chèvre, pomegranate, toasted pecans & balsamic dressing, Stellina oyster pizza: Straus cream braised leeks, oysters, lemon thyme & parsley, Strozzapreti Pasta with Tomales water buffalo ragu & fresh oregano, Orecchiette with house made fennel sausage, broccoli rabe & pecorino Romano, Seared local black cod with cauliflower-yukon gold potato mash and sauteed organic rapini, Margaita’s famous Niman pork chile verde served with housemade tortillas, Tomales Bay clams & mussels, local black cod calamari, shrimp and cannellini beans in saffron broth with grilled Brickmaiden sourdough, and GBD: famous grilled cheese with Point Reyes Farmstead Toma on Brickmaiden sourdough & Paradise Valley greens.

 

Picco
320 Magnolia Ave.
Larkspur, CA
415.924.0300

Pisco means “summit” in Italian. Enjoy rustic, locally-inspired Italian cuisine at this hilltop local favorite. Pizzeria Picco next-door is also a popular choice.

San Francisco-based chef/owner Bruce Hill’s goals are simple: cook with the best seasonal ingredients, employ and teach great technique, and design dishes that best suit the unique atmosphere of his restaurants. Working under Jeremiah Tower at Stars in 1984, the self-taught Hill began to implement the tenets that have since earned him a spot on the roster of the Bay Area’s most groundbreaking chefs: use the best local ingredients at the right time of year.
After opening Aqua in 1990 and bringing Oritalia to fame in 1993, Hill transformed the Waterfront Restaurant in 1997, receiving a Rising Star Chef award by Wine Spectator Magazine. In 2002, Hill revived Bix Restaurant as a partner and executive chef. Under Hill’s direction, Bix garnered it’s first 3-star review from the San Francisco Chronicle. Chef Hill opened Picco and Pizzeria Picco in 2005, quickly becoming a Marin County top dining spot. Zero Zero, is Chef Hill’s most recent opening (2010), serving Cailfornia/Italian cuisine in the tech-savvy SOMA district of San Francisco.

 

Pizzeria Picco
316 Magnolia Ave.
Larkspur, CA
415.945.8900

Sib of Picco, the pizzas at this local hotspot are crafted in the traditional Neapolitan thin crust style, hand stretched and cooked in a wood burning pizza oven and are made from the finest quality ingredients from local farmers and producers. Fresh mozzarella is pulled in-house. Pizzeria Picco’s menu also features organic salads, a daily soup and Straus Dairy soft serve ice cream.

 

Pizzalina
914 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
San Anselmo, CA
415.256.9780

Pizzalina was created to celebrate the simple art and sensibility of enriching a community through real, sincere food. It was born of the belief that simple food, made lovingly, by hand, with the highest quality ingredients, served in a space where all are welcome and treasured, is an honest day’s labor and a higher calling. It was born of a desire to rekindle fellowship, and the ritual of breaking bread together, which is the very core of being human. The prevailing philosophy is: Keep it simple, use the best quality ingredients, step out of the way and let the ingredients sing for themselves. Every ingredient on our menu has a story, from the Italian milled 00 flour and San Marzano tomatoes to the local Ramini Bufala mozzarella. Family friendly local favorite sure to please with a selection of beer and wine available on tap and by the bottle.

Photo of Poggio Trattoria by the restaurant @Facebook

PP
Poggio Trattoria
777 Bridgeway
Sausalito, CA
415.332.7771

Poggio is a classic Italian trattoria with comfortable neighborhood charm and destination-caliber cuisine. Using the best available local ingredients and property-grown organic herbs and vegetables, the daily changing menu features soulful classics of Northern Italy, simply and earnestly prepared.

After 30 years of building successful restaurants, legendary San Francisco restaurateur Larry Mindel has made a name for himself in the culinary landscape. With Poggio, he makes his definitive mark. It’s been a long and adventurous trip to complete his vision of what a great restaurant can be with Poggio, one that began with personal epiphany years ago during his first trip to Italy and that has since included uncountable trips between California and ‘The Boot.’ But for Italophiles everywhere, it was a journey well worth the effort. Larry opens a restaurant that reflects not just where he’s been, but who he is. Poggio is the natural extension of a career marked with numerous accolades and wonderful restaurants.

“I’m not trying to build a new empire here,” says Larry. “This is just all of my experience wrapped into four walls. My hope is that it will be a place my friends and family feel comfortable in.”

Millions of people across the country have enjoyed visiting Larry’s restaurants, though many are likely to recognize the establishments before they recognize the man. Combining a passion for Italy and keen restaurant savvy, Larry has created such trend-setting restaurants as Ciao in San Francisco, which was the first restaurant in the U.S. to feature exhibition pasta making in view of the dining room, highlighted with all-white décor and floors made of white Pirelli rubber. Two years later, Larry opened Prego in San Francisco, bringing one of the first restaurant exhibition pizza ovens to the United States and launching this nation-wide trend. He also reinvented Il Fornaio, changing it from a charming collection of Italian bakeries into an empire of restaurants and bakeries in five states generating more than $150 million in annual revenue.

 

Now, with more than 30 Italian restaurants under his belt, Larry is finally zeroing in on a definitive spirit with Poggio. “I feel I have gotten as close as I can to the very heart of what Italian cooking and hospitality are about,” he says. “And this is one person’s dream of doing a restaurant as well as it can be done.” Larry resides in Sausalito, along with his wife and family. And while he continues to make regular pilgrimages to Italy, he maintains a special connection to the Bay Area. Poggio is Larry’s Italian love letter to his home. “I’ve lived here for 37 years,” he says, “and this restaurant is a chance for me to give something back to a community that has been so great to me.”

Chef Benjamin Balesteri was born in Monterey and raised in the Salinas Valley. The Swiss farming family on his mother’s side gave him an appreciation of growing seasonal vegetables, artisanal cheese, and seasonally butchered meats. The Sicilian fishermen on his father’s side taught him how to fish in the Monterey Bay and the best ways to prepare freshly caught fish and seafood and bring out their unique qualities.

Balesteri, now 32 years old, showed a natural aptitude for the culinary arts. He began working in restaurants at an early age, and eventually enrolled in culinary school at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Through visiting chefs, he was given an opportunity at Tra Vigne to travel to Italy. His time in Italy was both familiar and inspiring to him and it was during this period of his life that he learned firsthand his own Italian culture as well as the language. “Just like the people in Italy, I’m guided by what’s available in the wild and in the garden,” Balesteri explains. “In Italy, they don’t manipulate food, but rather, bring out what’s best about it. I do this at Poggio, as well.”

Upon his return from Italy, he joined Poggio as a sous chef, and in 2010, he couldn’t resist the challenges of New York City and became the opening sous chef at Lincoln, working under acclaimed Chef Jonathan Benno. In early 2012, the lure of fishing, surfing, and the country’s best fruits and vegetables brought Balesteri back to California, where he was welcomed home to Poggio. In early 2013, Balesteri was promoted to executive chef at Poggio where he is leading the kitchen and continuing the exciting house cured charcuterie, fresh pasta and culinary program the restaurant has become known for. “Growing up, great food was important to my family, but it was really about people coming together,” Balesteri said. “This is the tradition of Poggio that I intend to carry on.”

 

Prabh Indian Kitchen
24 Sunnyside Ave.
Mill Valley, CA
415.384.8241

Located in the heart of Mill Valley, California is a cultural experience where you can enjoy authentic Indian food in a traditional way. Located in a converted house and a welcome addition to Mill Valley’s dining scene, this casual yet stylish Indian restaurant is a cut above the rest. South Asian art and sculpture, fresh flowers, and copper accents add splashes of color to the mahogany furnishings and granite tabletops, while the glass-enclosed front porch is a sunny spot to enjoy an easygoing lunch, kids included.

Bring a group and explore the menu family-style, as you won’t want to miss the tender, well-spiced, and garam masala-redolent lamb rogan josh or the sizzling kebab of chicken tikka in its tangy, delectable yogurt marinade. Flaky samosas filled with a flavorful blend of potatoes, peas, caramelized onions, and served with a trio of tasty chutneys.

 

R’Noh Thai
1000 Magnolia Ave.
Larkspur, CA
415.925.0599

Local favorite overlooking a creek with a warm ambience and fireplace, featuring authentic Thai cuisine with an extensive menu. Enjoy a variety of curries, noodles, Pad Thai, and stir fry dishes with tofu, pork, chicken, beef, prawns, roasted duck, seafood, and organic chicken.

 

Sol Food
401 Miller Ave.
Mill Valley, CA
415.380.1986
and
903 Lincoln Ave.
San Rafael, CA
415.451.4765

Fun, fresh, flavorful Puerto Rican soul food. Look for daily specials, soups, salads, sandwiches, Arroz con Pollo, Rotisserie Pork Rib dinner, and Sweet Plantain Casserole.

 

Sushi Ran
107 Caledonia St.
Sausalito, CA
415.332.3620

Sushi Ran is recognized as one of the top Japanese restaurants in the US, and has netted high honors over the past 30 years.

The restaurant features a vibrant fusion of traditional Japanese and Pacific cuisine. Arrive early to grab a seat at the small sushi bar, savor exquisite fresh fish and Santa Barbara Uni, paired with a great wine and sake list.

 

Valenti & Co.
337 San Anselmo Ave.
San Anselmo, CA
415.454.7800

CHEF/OWNER DUILIO VALENTI. HERE IS A LITTLE BIT ABOUT ME AND MY RESTAURANT FAMILY… THE CO
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Chef/Owner Duilio Valenti was born and raised in Lombardy and he has a profound love and connection to my Italian motherland. Chef Valenti, having lived many years in Marin County has also developed a deep relationship with the local land, its products and its people. “I don’t think of myself as a chef nor as a restaurant owner: I’m a cook. I have dedicated my life to learning the art of cooking: culinary school, apprenticeships, working in great restaurants, books, notes and observation. I have worked with some of the best chefs in the world: Gualtiero Marchesi, Gaston Lenotre, Gianfranco Vissani, Michel Rostang just to name a few, and although they all have contributed to my culinary treasures and experiences what really matters is what I feel like creating today, because as we say in the restaurant business “a chef is only as good as the last dish he cooked”.”

A family affair, Valenti’s wife Maria has a novel approach at being your host, with a sparkling and joyful personality. Daughter Bianca was inspired by her grandfather Jean Valenti, (founder of Associazione Italiana Sommeliers), has been studying the fine art of wine service and is in charge of our wine list, bringing you a selection of extraordinary California and Northern Italian wines, mostly from small, independent producers. Mr. Cristiano Marcondes, the Maitre d’, has been working alongside Chef Valenti for many years.

 

Village Sake
19 Bolinas Rd.
Fairfax, CA
415.521.5790

The izakaya is the community hub. A welcoming place to eat and drink with friends and to celebrate life’s milestones. It’s a place where you can feel comfortably well known or sufficiently anonymous. With equal importance placed on food and drink. Village Sake is a Japanese pub serving mouth-watering Japanese “izakaya” fare with finely paired sake and craft beers. Having visited izakaya throughout Japan, the goal was to recreate the relaxed pub feel, fantastic sake, and succulent small dishes in Fairfax.

About Fred Bollaci

I'm CEO and President of Fred Bollaci Enterprises. I lost more than 100 pounds while living "La Dolce Vita" and I'm now known as "The Healthy Gourmet." Sample the good life with me through fitness, fine food, and good wine. Meet chefs who cater to a healthy gourmet lifestyle through my Golden Palate blog.
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