What’s New in Healdsburg Restaurants, Hotels, Wine & Food in 2017
The latest restaurant, bar and tasting room openings, new chefs and more
New York City has nothing on H’burg—as we locals call it. Sure, the Big Apple is about 2,000 times the size of our little town, but Healdsburg has new restaurants and bars opening (almost) as frequently as our country’s biggest city. In the last 12 months, a number of new can’t-miss establishments have burst onto the local scene, while a number of stalwarts have added new offerings. Here, in chronological order from most recent, are some of the latest food and beverage finds from Healdsburg restaurants, tasting rooms, bars and more that we think you should put on your must do in Healdsburg list for 2017.
The Latest News on Healdsburg Restaurants & Healdsburg Bars (Updated August 2017)
Scopa becoming a Duke’s private lounge
When the beloved Italian Healdsburg restaurant Scopa closed its doors in April 2017, locals heard rumors that owners would keep the space to host private events and large parties for their neighboring restaurant, Campo Fina. No longer. A new ownership notice has gone up in the window of Scopa. A local official initially told us that mega vintner Bill Foley—owner of Les Mars hotel, Chalkboard and the new Brass Rabbit in downtown Healdsburg—had snatched up the skinny, rustic spot to turn it into a lounge for Brass Rabbit with cocktail service provided by next-door neighbor, Duke’s Spirited Cocktails. It’s actually the other way around, according to Shane McAnelly, executive chef of Chalkboard and Brass Rabbit. Duke’s has acquired Scopa restaurant for private events and access to Scopa’s kitchen with plans to add a food menu at Duke’s. McAnelly and his staff at Brass Rabbit are developing cool bar food recipes now and will handle the cooking. No official announcements yet on when Duke’s new space will be ready or when food service will begin, so stay tuned. (If you’re curious why Scopa closed and when Brass Rabbit restaurant opened, scroll down for our April 2017 Healdsburg restaurants news report.)
Scopa, 109A Plaza Street, Healdsburg, CA, thebrassrabbithealdsburg.com
Kitchen 335 opening at Persimmon
When I walked by Persimmon on a Thursday night at 8 p.m. two weeks ago, I was surprised to see the Healdsburg restaurant closed with no notes posted on the door. Big changes were already in the works. Owner and veteran local restaurateur Octavio Diaz was already deep into a 3o-day revamp to transform what was one of the plaza’s newer eateries into Kitchen 335, a farm-to-table restaurant named for its street address. The Healdsburg restaurant sources all ingredients from nearby farms, with an emphasis on What’s Up Farms, a privately-owned Sonoma County farm that works with schools in Santa Rosa to teach children about farming. Chef Rodrigo Mendoza, who left Willi’s Seafood less than a year ago to head the kitchen at Persimmon, will remain executive chef; he also supplies the kitchen with herbs and vegetables from his home garden. Kitchen 335 opened on August 1, and the menu looks tasty. Grand opening will be later this month once the liquor license is secured. (Read below to learn about the recent changes at Willi’s and Persimmon.)
Kitchen 335, 335 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, CA, kitchen335.com
Journeyman opens off Healdsburg square
Pete Seghesio, a fourth-generation member of the Seghesio wine family, has fulfilled a life-long dream to make his own prosciutto, just like his grandfather once did. After he and his relatives decided to sell Seghesio winery in 2011, Pete traveled to Florence, Italy, every winter for five years to apprentice with a top charcuterie maker. The culmination of his passion project is Journeyman Meat Co., Sonoma County’s first small-batch, custom-crafted meat shop and salumeria. Located in the same building as Single Thread Farm Restaurant & Inn just off the Healdsburg square (which Pete owns), Journeyman is more than a place for Pete and his wife, Cathy, to sell their cured meats. It’s an intimate tasting bar for wine and charcuterie, featuring their new Journeyman wines, as well as a retail space and most importantly, a salumificcio and butcher shop. Pete makes his charcuterie in Cloverdale at Journeyman’s new, USDA-approved salumificcio, fully equipped with authentic Italian fermentation and aging equipment, including four small-batch fermentation rooms and two individual aging rooms for aging whole muscle meat and salumi. Journeyman is one of the few charcuterie makers that practices single fermentations for each of his meats. He also has a smoking chamber for slow-smoking sausage, curing bacon and more and will offer butcher services.
Journeyman Meat Co., 404 Center Street, Healdsburg, CA, 707-395-MEAT (6328), journeymanmeat.com
Jordan and Relish Culinary team up for winery lunch cooking class
Jordan Winery has launched a new series of Healdsburg events in September and October with Relish Culinary Adventures called Farm-To-Table Interactive Cooking Luncheons. The experience begins with a garden tour and continental breakfast in the Jordan Estate garden, featuring the Jordan Cuvée Champagne by AR Lenoble, homemade pastries, harvesting activities and more before provisions shopping at SHED and the Healdsburg Farmers’ Market near the Relish Healdsburg demonstration kitchen. At Relish, guests enjoy a reception with Jordan chardonnay and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a hands-on cooking class with the Relish chefs, before a three-course winery lunch paired with Jordan wines and other surprises. Tickets are $200 per person and can be purchased on Jordan Winery’s website.
Jordan Vineyard & Winery, 1474 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg, CA, 707-431-5250, jordanwinery.com/events
Relish Culinary Adventures, 14 Matheson Street, Healdsburg, CA, 707-431-9999, relishculinary.com
Tiki parties on Healdsburg square
Duke’s is doubling down on the tiki craze. Two Polynesian-themed tiki pop-up parties have been hosted so far this summer—the first replete with Star Wars tiki mugs and a second with complimentary ahi poke and pork sliders, passed by bar co-owner, Laura Sanfilippo, wearing a traditional Hawaiian dress. Justin D’olie, formerly of San Francisco’s newest tiki bar, Pagan Idol, has relocated to Sonoma County and joined the Duke’s team. Justin grew up in Hawaii, and you can always recognize him by the ever-present smile and tropical shirt. (He also hosted Duke’s first Tiki Cocktail Class last weekend.) Be sure to like the Duke’s Facebook page for future event announcements.
Duke’s Spirited Cocktails, 111 Plaza Street, Healdsburg, CA, drinkatdukes.com
More News about Healdsburg Restaurants, Healdsburg Tasting Rooms & Healdsburg Bars (Added April 2017)
Bistro Ralph becomes The Brass Rabbit
A fixture in the wine country restaurant scene for more than two decades, Bistro Ralph’s reinvention as Ralph’s Martini House in 2015 was sadly short-lived. Now, vintner Bill Foley, owner of Healdsburg’s well-loved Chalkboard, is opening a new concept chez Ralph dubbed The Brass Rabbit. Chalkboard Chef Shane McAnelly and the team have kept quiet on details, but Tasting Table reports that the new restaurant will open in May and offer a “seasonal supper club menu” with French influences.
The Brass Rabbit, 109 Plaza Street, Healdsburg, CA, thebrassrabbithealdsburg.com
Willi’s Seafood gets makeover, new chef
A pillar of the Healdsburg dining scene since 2002, Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar closed for a week in late March for a mini makeover, including new lighting and paint throughout. Chef AJ McCloud, formerly of Houston’s in Southern California, now oversees the kitchen, replacing Rodrigo Mendoza (see Persimmon news below).
Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar, 403 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, CA, starkrestaurants.com
Hard to believe it, but one of Healdsburg’s best and most beloved restaurants is shutting its doors after eight years. Scopa, the narrow-but-delicious upscale Italian restaurant on the Plaza, will close April 8 so owners Dawnelise Regnery and Ari Rosen (who is also the chef) can focus on spending more time as a family. The duo has become a fixture in the local community, opening Campo Fina, the more casual restaurant around the corner, and starting Corazon Healdsburg, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting equality. Regnery, who is pregnant with the couple’s second child, said Campo Fina will remain open, and noted that the end of Scopa was bittersweet. “It’s been a really difficult decision, but one of moving our family and lives towards simplification and space for the new,” she said. We wish them luck, and thank them for all that great food.
Scopa, 109A Plaza Street, Healdsburg, CA, scopahealdsburg.com
Downtown Healdsburg’s newest tasting experience: Idlewild, which opened early March in the old Sanglier space on Plaza Street. The salumi and wine bar is the brainchild of Sam Bilbro, who makes wine for a label that also bears the Idlewild name. All of Bilbro’s varietals are of Piedmont origin but grown locally—think Dolcetto, Barbera, and a variety of clean, bright whites and pinks. Inside the space, the experience is intimate but not over-the-top; bar seats and window bench seats are the options, and servers only share the origin of the meats if you ask. The result: an environment that allows the products to speak for themselves. Bilbro himself comes from good rootstock; his two brothers, Jake and Scot, and their father, Chris, are in the business as well, crafting the Limerick Lane and Marietta labels.
Idlewild Wines, 132 Plaza Street, Healdsburg, CA, idlewildwines.com
Highly anticipated Single Thread Farms opens
For more than a year, Healdsburgers (and foodies across the country) have been eagerly awaiting the opening of Single Thread Farms Restaurant & Inn by husband-wife team, Kyle and Katina Connaughton (pictured). As we reported last spring, the restaurant experience includes personal tours of the restaurant’s rooftop garden and greenhouse, an 11-course meal, California-focused wine pairings and the option to stay in one of five suites on-site. The menu, heavily influenced by the chef’s work with French chef Michel Bras in Japan, revolves around fresh produce Katina and her team grow at the couple’s property nearby. Their thoughtful, farm-focused cuisine highlights not just the four seasons–but 72 micro-seasons of ancient Japan (each lasting five days). A soft opening occurred in December 2016, and Single Thread has already been nominated for James Beard Awards’ Best New Restaurant.
Single Thread Farms Restaurant & Inn, 131 North Street, Healdsburg, CA, singlethreadfarms.com
K-J Partake becomes Siduri Wine Lounge
The Kendall-Jackson family of brands has a new home in downtown Healdsburg: Siduri Wine Lounge, which opened late last year in the space formerly occupied by K-J Partake. Today, this spot offers regionally inspired, eclectic bites designed to go with wines by the glass or bottle, including more than twenty Pinot Noirs. The place has a distinctly hipster vibe, with an old-growth redwood tasting bar, a retro turntable (with vinyl ready to play) and even draft beer. What to order? For starters, be sure to dig in to the candy cap mushroom kettle corn and buttermilk fried chicken (pictured). Later, try a plate of braised and fried alligator dunked in remoulade with grilled lemons.
Siduri Wines, 241 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, CA, siduri.com
Persimmon 2.0 (**Closed July 2017**)
It’s only been a year since Asian-fusion eatery Persimmon took over the tiny Charcuterie bistro on the square, and owner and local restaurateur Octavio Diaz is already making big changes to keep up with Healdsburg’s ever-changing food scene. Not content with traffic after the restaurant’s first summer season, Diaz refreshed the concept, bringing in a new chef, Rodrigo Mendoza (pictured), formerly of Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar, and a new manager, Healdsburg-raised Ryan Costa, who just returned from the New York restaurant scene. Today the menu is more, well…Asian, featuring a variety of clay-pot, broth-based dishes (don’t miss the Dungeness crab in coconut milk during season), somen noodles, crispy duck and baby back ribs. Ingredients are sourced primarily from local farms. Mendoza, who is from Bolivia, has added South American spice to some of the dishes as well. Persimmon’s wine list has been reinvented, too, focusing almost 90 percent on Sonoma County wines.
Persimmon, 335 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, CA, persimmonhealdsburg.com
Sonoma Cider Taproom debuts
For the last few years, the only way to sample Healdsburg-made Sonoma Cider was to find it at local bars or buy it at Big John’s. In October, however, the company opened a taproom and restaurant one block south of the Healdsburg plaza, in the same shopping center as FLO behind the Parish Café. The taproom boasts 25 taps in all, and will pour micro-releases, experimental batches and exclusive flavors from Sonoma Cider, as well as additional artisanal ciders from around the world. A menu of approachable fare in the form of small snacks and shareable plates also is available. Open since October 2016.
Sonoma Cider, 44 Mill Street, Healdsburg, CA, sonomacider.com
New chef at Dry Creek Kitchen
A new executive chef took the reins at Hotel Healdsburg’s Dry Creek Kitchen restaurant last summer, and he’s a familiar face to owner (and celebrity chef) Charlie Palmer. Chef Scott Romano (pictured) started his career in New York at Aureole, Palmer’s flagship restaurant, back in 1997, and the two have been friends ever since. Romano was most recently executive chef at Charlie Palmer at the Joule in Dallas. To celebrate their long connection, Romano and Palmer have collaborated on a special menu of “Reflective Cooking” that comprises dishes to remind them of years and times past. Highlights include seared quail with corn and sweetbread pudding, and veal chop with sautéed foie gras, orange-cooked carrots and potato-parsnip puree. (Last month, DCK also hired a new sommelier, Jeff Creamer. He most recently served as wine director at Brix Restaurant in Yountville, where he managed a 4,000-bottle cellar.)
Dry Creek Kitchen, 317 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, CA, drycreekkitchen.com
Breakfast at Mateo’s Cocina Latina
Back in the days when Mateo Granados operated a food truck at the local farmers’ market, hungry shoppers would line up by the dozens for his legendary farm-fresh breakfasts. Last summer, Granados brought back those breakfasts—this time to his Healdsburg restaurant, Mateo’s Cocina Latina. The “Market Breakfast” is available only on weekends, and comprises different items every week, depending on what’s available. Produce from local spots such as MIX Garden, Ridgeview Farms, and Soda Rock Farm are mainstays on the list. Be sure to try Granados’ hot sauces with your meal.
Mateo’s Cocina Latina, 214 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, CA, mateoscocinalatina.com
Cellars of Sonoma moves to Healdsburg
For eight years, Cellars of Sonoma owner Scott Jordan (no relation to the Jordans at Jordan Winery) has been championing small Sonoma County producers at his tasting room in Railroad Square in downtown Santa Rosa, and he’s bringing the same focus and level of hospitality to a new tasting room space just off the Healdsburg square behind Healdsburg Bar & Grill. Open since July 2016, Cellars of Sonoma pours wines from eight Sonoma County vintners; many produce small lots of wine with only a few hundred cases per varietal and are not available in national distribution. Jordan closed his Railroad Square tasting room on New Year’s Eve to focus entirely on his new space in Healdsburg.
Cellars of Sonoma, 20 Matheson Street, Healdsburg, CA, cellarsofsonoma.com
Barndiva adds Bistro and Somm’s Table
For years, the Studio Barndiva space—just north of Barndiva restaurant on Center Street—has been an art gallery by day and private event venue by night. Last June, Barndiva owners decided to bring daily dining service to the eclectic space and renamed it The Gallery Bar + Bistro. Think of the new iteration as an informal version of the restaurant next door, a nod to the environment of a public house with artisanal cocktails and a classic French bistro menu by Barndiva Chef Ryan Fancher’s cuisine, a French Laundry alumn. The funky patio seating, cocktails and vintage cigarette card collection were already worthy of a visit, but now the cuisine is drawing epicures. Mainstays here include steak frites, macaroni au gratin and the “Gallery Board,” from which you can make your own duck leg carnitas tacos. The Gallery serves fabulous “Sunday Supper” three-course prix fixe dinners every weekend and continues to add features to the bistro’s hospitality. Be sure to ask about the new Somm’s Table. It’s a curated wine shop by day, and in the evenings, when not being used for winemaker dinners, the artistic dining space can be booked for up to ten diners for an intriguing wine pairing chef’s table.
Barndiva Gallery Bar + Bistro, 237 Center Street, Healdsburg, CA, barndiva.com
Duke’s Spirited Cocktails debuts
Artisan craft cocktails are more popular than ever, and Duke’s, which opened last summer in the old John & Zeke’s space on the Healdsburg plaza, is the most popular place to sip for locals and tourists alike. The bar is helmed by three Spoonbar! alums (Laura Sanfilippo, Tara Heffernon, and Steve Maduro), and the menu is chock-full of cocktails made with garden ingredients grown by Sanfilippo and Heffernon. Perhaps the biggest attraction is cocktails on draught, which have a touch of spritz and seasonal ingredients. The only downside to Duke’s: On weekend nights, it can be difficult to get in (seriously). Part of the Healdsburg Cocktail Triangle.
Duke’s Spirited Cocktails, 111 Plaza Street, Healdsburg, CA, drinkatdukes.com
Geyserville Gun Club opens
Devotees of Diavola, Geyserville’s famous pizza place, always complained about not having enough to do while they waited for tables. They now have an entire playroom in the Geyserville Gun Club, which opened last March. The eclectic bar, owned by Diavola chef Dino Buciga, sits just three doors north, and boasts a swanky city-meets-country vibe that draws as many farmers as it does tourists. Gun Club specializes in craft cocktails made from boutique spirits and even has Negronis on tap. Not surprisingly, “GGC” has great food, too, including lumpia and, of course, cold pizza—all made by Buciga and served through a window between the two kitchens. The best part? If you go when you’re waiting for a table at Diavola, the hostess will call the bar when your name is up. Also part of the Healdsburg Cocktail Triangle.