Dustin’s Passion Project: New details on Dustin Valette’s yet-unnamed restaurant in Healdsburg. Partnering with the former Dry Creek Kitchen chef will be his brother Aaron Garzini, a front-of-house vet with stints at John Ash and Co., SF’s Beetlenut and Francis Ford Coppola’s Rustic.
“We dreamed about this when we were little kids playing in the yard,” said Vallette of his 20-plus years of planning a restaurant with his sibling. (The two are half-brothers.) The boys grew up in the restaurant business in Sonoma County, and will be paying homage to many of their favorite local farmers, winemakers, grape growers and artisans at the yet-to-be-named eatery. They’ll include hand-hewn furniture from a 750-year-old redwood stump on a nearby property.
“I bumped into that stump recently and memories came flooding back,” said Valette, of the tree that was milled by his father 35 years ago after it fell.
“Everything in the restaurant will have a story,” said Valette, including the menu. Look for a parade of Sonoma County’s bounty, with a changed-nightly Chef’s Tasting Menu, fresh pastas, local meats, house made charcuterie (Valette’s a well-versed charcuterist), bespoke cheeses from a local cheese maker, and of course, Valette’s signature Scallops en Croute.
The vibe will be upscale casual, meaning entrées in the $20-30 range; no white tablecloths, a “clean look with sharp edges” and an extensive wine and cocktail program. The brothers say they’re hoping for a late February 2015 opening.
Of course, there’s always another story behind every restaurant opening and closing: Someone winning and someone losing. For months, news that Valette was looking for a space of his own after six years with Charlie Palmer at Dry Creek Kitchen was one of the worst-kept secrets in Healdsburg.
Most bets were on Bistro Ralph’s, so it came as a surprise to some when Zin’s Jeff and Susan Mall announced their closing. No one is speaking publicly about the reason behind the couple’s departure, but suffice to say, the restaurant will be much missed and there’s plenty of push for the Malls to continue cooking for the community.
“The spirit of Zin will live on with Valette,” said the couple. Zin’s last day will be Dec. 30, 2014.
Holidays on a budget? Want to make a holiday dinner for a crowd for under $75? Angela Wooton, Director of FoodiesProject.com, will be hosting a cooking demo, recipes and tips on stretching your pennies for a stellar holiday dinner with BiteClubEats.com and Chef Christopher Hanson. The event (which will include some noshes) will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at G&G Market’s Ginger Grill (1211 W. College Ave., Santa Rosa). The event is free, but donations will be accepted. For more details go to BiteClubEats.com/Classes for registration.
Still hungry? Check out Heather’s always-updated food and dining blog at BiteClubEats.com.