Friday, July 19, 2013


Pizzalina Exterior

I was intrigued by Pizzalina from the beginning.  I caught Louise Franz (owner) blogging all about the experience of opening a restaurant from scratch, and in particular, about Pizzalina in San Anselmo.  I visited in February for a bite when I was in the area.

Pizzalina set up

When you walk in the cheerful vibe is noticeable, and the fact that someone cares about the place is evident.  Louise was on the floor, greeting pizza lovers and said hello to me too.

Pizzalina Pizza

Having life interfere with my blogging, I seem to have misplaced the take out menu I brought home to prompt memory of the pizza I ordered, and since Pizzalina is in tune with the seasons, it isn't on the current posted menu.  I hope it comes back.  It was composed of some of my favorite things!

Prosciutto, Blue Cheese, Fig and Caramelized Onion Pizza

The pizza had a name after a train stop, and it was composed of prosciutto, figs, caramelized onions and bleu cheese topping the flavorful mozzarella cheese and perfectly crisp and bubbly crust.  I'm getting hungry all over again just describing this.

The pizzas range from $10-$18 currently, and there are salads, pasta, entrees such as wood roasted quail ($22) as well.  The emphasis is local and seasonal, there are wines on tap (Cal-Italian) and microbrews.

The latest Marin County food inspection reports are here.

914 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
San Anselmo, CA 94960
(415) 256-9780

For directions, try Anna's Map.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Cantina

The Cantina exterior

On a warm summer's day I dropped into The Cantina for lunch, and a few days later found myself there for brunch with family.  The Cantina was a long lived restaurant in Mill Valley that left for a bit, replaced by Maria Maria, then it came back with some reinvention.

Chips and Salsa 

Chips and salsa arrived soon after I sat down, and I found that the chips are gluten free and made fresh every day on premises.

Arroz con Pollo 

I enjoyed an old favorite, and found a new twist.  This arroz con pollo had a pounded chicken breast atop Mexican rice.  Along with the ranchero sauce, there were chunky pieces of red and green bell peppers and onions.  Usually I've had this dish where the chicken was served over the rice in tenders, and not with such fresh and colorful peppers and sweet onion as toppings. Also my experience of this dish at other places is without the corn cake, refried beans and green lettuce.  This dish shined.  The only thing I would have changed is to have some kind of dressing or topping for the plain, yet crisp and fresh lettuce.

Crab Omelet 

A second trip for brunch found me irresistibly drawn to the crab omelet. The omelet was accompanied by soft potatoes, sour cream and pico de gallo. I was happy with this dish.  The crab was very smooth and paired well with the egg envelope.

The latest food inspection reports can be found here.

The Cantina
651 E Blithedale Ave.
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(415) 381-1070

For directions, try Anna's Map.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


photo credit: iStockphoto

Well it comes time again to clean up the side bar and refresh what's here and gone.

Closures since I last updated the list:

Mill Valley
Caffe Oggi

Fu Zhou Super Buffet
Sam's Roadhouse

San Anselmo
Chinese Kitchen
Lanna Thai
LoCoco's Italian Pizzeria
Orchid Thai Restaurant

San Rafael
California Bakery & Cafe
Pinky's Pizza (July 28, 2013)

Giovanni's Pizza

Stinson Beach
Stinson Beach Grill

A few have been closed for some time and I missed those until now...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Barrel House Tavern

Barrel House Tavern Door

I've been looking forward to trying the new Barrel House Tavern in Sausalito since I first heard about the care being put into the remodeling.  Owner Chris Henry spent about two years carefully restoring and enhancing its original architectural features and made it warm and inviting.

Barrel House Tavern Side View

There are many opportunities for a great view of the bay and San Francisco in the distance from an inside window or the spacious and comfortable deck.

Flat Bread and Pioneer

Tonight I went with friends and two were out of town visitors from Nebraska.  We were given a treat of an apricot based dip and crisp rosemary flatbread shortly after we were seated.  Three of us tried the Pioneer cocktail, a whiskey-based drink that included Whipper Snapper Whiskey, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth, Peach Liqueur, Canton Ginger Liqueur, lemon, soda and orange bitters.  The consensus was wow on the drink.

Flat Bread
The Flat Bread with Serrano ham, burrata, spring onions and nectarines was also a riot of pleasing tastes and textures.

Crab Sliders 

We also enjoyed the Crab Sliders with avocado, cilantro and watermelon radish-jicama slaw on brioche.  We requested that the chef split the two sliders for four to enjoy before bringing it to the table, so the photo shows the split sliders rather than the usual appearance.  I loved the mix of tastes and textures and would come back some time just for these.

Pan Roasted Cod

We shared a bite of each others dishes so all could appreciate the variety.  This Pan Roasted Cod with yellow corn, summer squash, shitake mushrooms, baby carrots and port reduction was burst with fresh, moist light cod flavor and the accompanying vegetables were well paired with it and the port reduction.

Wood Fired Chicken

My dining companion was particularly taken with the well-paired flavor of bacon in this Wood Fired Chicken with red bliss mashed potatoes, bacon, carrots and lemon thyme jus.  I was impressed with the crispness of the skin while the meat under it was moist and tender.

Grass-Fed Niman Ranch Ribeye

I had this Grass-Fed Niman Ranch Ribeye with red wine butter, fries and housemade aioli.  The portion was actually  more generous than it appears in this photo.  I smeared the red wine butter over the entire steak and let in melt and ooze into the tender medium-cooked ribeye steak.  I loved the rich flavors and the crisp exterior, moist interior fries dipped into the garlic infused aioli.

Apricot Crisp

Wanting to linger and enjoy the lovely view with our Nebraskan friends, we ordered two desserts to sample between the four of us.  First up was an apricot crisp topped with a vanilla bean ice cream.  We loved the contrast of the warm seasonal apricots with the crisp granola crisp and cool rich ice cream.

Creme Brulee 

The creme brulee was also smooth, delicious with a delicate crisp caramel topping, and was accompanied by  crunchy 'cat's tongue' long rectangular cookies.

The creator of the tastes this evening is chef Matthew Bousquet.  Previously he was the executive chef at Bistro Jeanty in Yountville. He also co-owned Windsor's Mirepoix that received a Michelin star, and also its sister spot Bistro M in Windsor as well. The Windsor restaurants closed in 2011.

Barrel House Tavern is so new that the food inspectors have not visited, however, its inspection report will be posted here once complete.

Barrel House Tavern
660 Bridgeway
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 729-9593
For directions, try Anna's Map.