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SMITH: Will Caff?Portofino live on?

Folks who cook, pour and serve at Caff?Portofino fear a perception that the savored downtown Santa Rosa spot died a month ago with owner Bob Musante.

But I lunched there on Monday (minestrone and a half Caesar) and found that chef Arturo Cardenas, who has worked there 22 years, and 25-year bar manager Su Wolfard are at their posts and hoping Portofino will stay open for close to forever.

Its future fell into doubt in 2000 with the death at age 34 of athletic, naturally charming Victor Belmonte. He'd opened it with his parents, Vittorio and Maria, and brother, Henry, in 1987 where the Courthouse Cafe had been.

The family did sell Portofino in 2002, but buyer Musante wisely made few changes. With Musante's death Jan. 9 at 68, it's likely to be sold again.

Will Maria's fettucini survive another change of hands? We can hope.

VICKI'S CARE: Remember that horrendous head-on crash on Stony Point Road near Cotati in December, the one believed caused by a young man driving with a needle alongside him and drugs in his veins?

The woman in the other vehicle, Vicki Siefer, was so grievously hurt there was fear she might not survive.

We've learned a bit about Siefer, who is 46 and an Piner alum. She had endured the loss of a career job and an upside-down home and became beloved as a caregiver for ailing seniors.

She is finally out of hospitals, although not yet able to walk on her reconstructed legs. Rose Pierre, who appreciates how Siefer cared for her 88-year-old mom, has opened a bank account to receive donations to help her pay her <QA0>


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