“A boy went back to Napoli” (actually it was the West Coast)
“because he missed the scenery” (viewing wineries and restaurants)
“the native dances and the charming songs” (Kyle singing Sinatra)
“but wait a minute, something’s wrong…”
“Hey mambo, mambo italiano”
“there’s so much more, than Italian restauranto”
“you Hawaii tourists only look for pasta and proscuitto”
“there’s so much more delisha than the italiano disha”
Anyway, for no apparent reason at all, we seemed to have dined primarily on Italian cuisine
while visiting the West Coast. I normally make dining reservations through OpenTable.com but
realized several trips ago that we often cancelled our reservations due to unplanned
circumstances (the B & B breakfast was just too filling, the mid morning snack turned into a full
blown lunch, the unplanned lunch prevented further gastronomy the rest of the day, etc,
etc…). Therefore, on our last trip, I only made reservations for dinner at Cyrus and left other
dining options to the wind.
Christopher’s on Whidbey Island
Located on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound of Washington, Christopher’s is a small family
run restaurant focusing on fresh regional ingredients. While it’s not an Italian restaurant per se,
it’s menu includes many Mediterranean inspired dishes including
sandwiches served on Ciabatta rolls with proscuitto and provolone,
tomato sauce braised lamb shanks and salads with couscous and
garbanzo beans. The menu also features local wild salmon, clams
and Penn Cove mussels along with wine made from grape varieties
grown on the island.
We tried the lamb shank braised in tomato sauce, slow baked
salmon over wild rice, barbecued salmon sliders and the warm couscous salad (over the course of
two meals). The lamb was falling off of the shank bone and as delicious as any I’ve ever had.
Surprisingly, it was less than $20 which propelled it to the top of the taste-to-cost ratio list.
What else can you say about fresh wild salmon? Buttery, flavorful and perfect as a filet or served
on mini buns with slaw with wild berry barbecue sauce.
Christopher’s is definitely a gotta-go-to-again restaurant. I encourage a side trip to Whidbey
Island the next time you’re visiting Washington.
103 NW Coveland Street
Coupeville, WA 98239
This was a spur of the moment decision as I finished my tasting glass of Meeker Vineyard late
harvest Zinfandel. We planned on a simple afternoon snack and the Meeker Vineyards pourer
recommended Santi which was right next door. I admit that we didn’t indulge
in a full blown meal – we shared a salad and pasta – but boy, was it divine!
The Insalata di Pere; roasted pear slices with gorgonzola cheese on a mixture
of endive and frissee was the perfect combination of hearty bitter greens
(actually more yellow-green than green which is expected of those “greens”),
salty and rich bleu cheese, sweet and soft roasted pears and tangy balsamic
vinaigrette. I plan on trying to recreate this combination in my own kitchen
soon. The Spaghettini al Sugo Calabrese was thin spaghetti served with a rich
tomato based ragu with beef and pork rib meat with shavings of Pecorino
Romano. Combine perfectly cooked al dente spaghettini with a rich sauce
balanced with sharp cheese and you have two diners regretting finishing their breakfast earlier
that morning. I also would have loved to try their Trippa all Romana or tripe braised with
tomato, oregano and mint but alas, that’s for another trip to wine country. Another definite
21047 Geyserville Avenue
Geyserville, CA 95441
The proprietor at Belle du Jour Inn recommended Cena Luna to us on the second day of our stay
in Healdsburg. Located just off of Healdsburg Square, this quaint restaurant is run by the
husband and wife team of Stuart and Yvette Hom. Their pork shank (diners beware, it’s a lot
more substantial than lamb shank) had the Mrs begging for her backup diner husband/disposal
while the shredded duck and leeks with fettuccine was substantial without being too rich. Their
ever changing fritto misto or mixed deep fried appetizer (we had calamari, cauliflower and long
beans) with Meyer lemon aioli (garlic mayonnaise) was also very good as well as their
gingerbread cake to finish the meal.
241 Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Cucina Restaurant and Wine Bar
Our brief stay in the States ended with a meal at Cucina Restaurant and Wine Bar in San
Anselmo. My brother and sister-n-law are frequent patrons to this homey
establishment so he wanted these Hawaii tourists to experience the same. Our
meal started with complimentary bruschetta – toasted bread slices topped
with a tomato, garlic, basil and olive oil salad. Our salad was something to
behold; Zucchini Carpaccio. Though the ingredients seem simple (unless
there are secret ingredients I didn’t notice), it was the perfect marriage of
crisp raw zucchini julienne, salty and rich Pecorino Romano, crunchy and
smoky toasted almond slices and cool herbal fresh chopped parsley (I actually
have made my own version several times since returning to the Islands). That
alone made the meal though the wild mushroom pizza (baked in a wood burning stone oven),
spaghetti carbonara and gnocchi in porcini sauce also ably sated these ravenous diners.
Cucina Restaurant and Wine bar
510 San Anselmo Avenue
San Anselmo, CA 94979
So the next time you find yourself craving for “enchilada with the fish, baccala”, take Rosemary
Clooney’s advice and Mambo Italiano to one of these Italian eateries.