s
s
Sections
Search
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
X

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Login

X

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

LoginSubscribe

Alfredo’s Italian Restaurant

Where: 1426 E. Washington Street, Petaluma

When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. & 4:30 to 9 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sat. & Sun.

Contact: (707) 782-0500, alfredositalianpetaluma.com

Cuisine: Italian

Price: Expensive, entrées $14-$27

Corkage: $15

Tucked away in an obscure corner of Washington Square Shopping Center in Petaluma, Alfredo’s Italian Restaurant qualifies as a hole-in-the-wall. You’ll never see the barebones storefront unless you know to look for it, nested behind Staples on a narrow, hidden parking lot off Washington Street and McDowell Boulevard.

But seek it out. Chef-owner Ramiro Nolazco and his son and co-owner David Nolazco are quietly cooking up excellent pastas ($14-$23), chicken piccata ($18.50), veal marsala over polenta ($27), and an array of other classic Italian dishes. There’s nothing fancy or fussy here, just plenty of the delicious comfort food I could happily devour every single day.

Maybe even twice a day, considering the wallet-friendly lunch special of fresh baked bread, a half salad, a half pasta and a scoop of gelato ($16).

That’s not to say this is simple stuff. You can taste the care and quality ingredients, and dare I say it, this two-year-old trattoria is now one of my favorite casual dining destinations.

Start with the bruschetta, the four thick, griddled toasts smothered in lots of wild mushrooms sautéed with cream and a hint of truffle oil then finished with shaved Parmigiano and arugula ($9.50 lunch/$12.50 dinner). The regular bruschetta is very good, too, topped in diced tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil and shaved grana ($7.50/$8.50), but the mushroom model knocks it out of the park.

Chef Ramiro previously ran the kitchen at Ristorante Allegria in Napa, and some of his signatures show up again here. I’m happy to see his arugula salad, good as always with poached pears, jicama, toasted pecans, blue cheese and gently sweet white balsamic vinaigrette ($8/$8.50). I’m not as excited about the return of his warm cabbage salad, though — it’s too many flavors amid the pepper bacon nubbins, mushrooms, blue cheese and warm red wine vinaigrette ($9).

Another Allegria standby — sweet soy marinated skirt steak satay — is a weird appetizer for an Italian eatery, oddly propped over a bit of with sautéed spinach and tall pile of onion rings.

The skewered beef is tasty enough ($10/$13), though I prefer the traditional beef carpaccio ($12/$12.50). The paper-thin sliced filet mignon is elegant, dressed in its classic capers, red onions, arugula, Parmigiano-Reggiano and a swath of whole grain mustard sauce.

And rather than onion rings, I like my fried fix with the calamari, tossed with fried green beans and artichokes for dunking in spicy chipotle aioli and lemon caper aioli ($12.50/$13). Nice and crisp, I tell David, who takes care of the trattoria’s 10 tables and never seems to stop smiling.

For entrees, it’s tough for me to move beyond the perfect pastas. Chef Ramiro has a bold touch with seasoning, from the spicy marinara on the linguine tumbled with pan seared prawns, scallops, mussels, rock shrimp, manila clams and fish ($20/$23), to the basil pesto and cream-infused marinara on the penne sautéed with chicken, sundried tomatoes and sweet corn ($15/$16).

I also like the saffron notes in the homemade pappardelle tossed with prawns, sundried tomatoes and broccoli ($20/$21). The subtle floral flavor adds pleasing earthiness to the dish’s delicate roasted shrimp bisque sauce.

Yet still, I keep going back to the so simple, so satisfying capellini ($12.50/$14). Whisper-light angel hair pasta nearly floats in its cloak of juicy chopped tomatoes, pungent basil, plenty of garlic and glistening extra virgin olive oil.

On my last visit, in fact, feeling greedy for that capellini, I asked David if I could switch out the garlic mashed potatoes that come with the chicken parmigiana ($19). He cheerfully accommodated, and it’s possible that now, I may never order any other entrée here.

This is heaven, as crispy breaded, pounded-to-tender chicken, melty cheese and marinara melds with the noodles and soaks up garlic butter from the accompanying al dente carrots and broccoli.

Desserts deliver the expected crowd pleasers, including tiramisu ($7.50), amaretto cheesecake ($7.50) and Grand Marnier orange crème brulee ($9).

For something different, however, I recommend the bread pudding ($7), dense and not too sweet on a pond of maple brandy sauce and bright yellow crème anglaise dotted with sliced strawberries.

As any self-respecting hole-in-the-wall should be, Alfredo’s isn’t big on décor. Think mustard-colored walls hung with landscape and wine bottle paintings, plain wood bistro tables and a partial open kitchen framed by hanging garlic bouquets.

A tall service bar sits in front of a wine display showing highlights from the eight whites, one rosé and 12 reds on the list (Sycamore White Zinfandel $7/$26, no thanks, but it’s nice to see several pleasant Italian reds like Chianti and Sangiovese).

Strolling out with a full belly and garlic on my breath, I’m entirely pleased.

I feel like I’ve found a new friend, and his name is Alfredo.

Carey Sweet is a Sebastopol-based food and restaurant writer. Read her restaurant reviews every other week in Sonoma Life. Contact her at carey@careysweet.com.

Show Comment