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Monday, August 31, 2009

Bodega Bay Italian Restaurant Cioppino

Seeking Italian on the Sonoma County Coast
by Carolyn Horan

Cioppino at 1400 Highway One in Bodega Bay is the latest business venture by restaurateur Steve Weissmann. With business partners Nancy DeLorenzo, the General Mangager, and Ron Mac Donald, the Chef, Steve is creating a new look and menu at this location that has been a restaurant for over twenty years. A couple months ago the transition began when this team took over “Claudio’s” in Pelican Plaza in Bodega Bay. They started slowly by interviewing customers and local patrons to see what they wanted. The answers to their queries were: ‘fish and chips’ – ‘white clam chowder’ – ‘pizza with a nice crisp crust’ – and lower prices.

Nancy worked with Sonja (a server at the restaurant) to design and create a new look for the building that has a nice view of the bay. The new décor is very pleasing and features interesting paintings of local artists which can be purchased (prices ranging from $200 to $6000). The furniture offers a warm and comfortable setting. For this interview I sat on an easy chair next to a couch and coffee table which had a special treat on it: a series of small intimate soft paper cook books printed in the 1930’s and 40’s. Thumbing through one I even found a hand written recipe on a piece of paper turning brown with age. If you like the outdoors there is a glass enclosed porch for dining. As part of the future plans the owners may expand to the second floor which has a great view of the bay and could be available for special events as well as regular dining.

All the partners are local Sonoma residents. Steve attended Anally High and worked for years with his dad in the restaurant business (actually his dad ran a restaurant in this location some many years ago. Nancy DeLorenzo is from Petaluma and has an extensive background that includes the food service banquet business as well as marketing and retail. She clearly has an artistic bent which shows in the décor. Ron started as a dishwasher when he was a young sprout and 25 years ago worked his way up to Chef at Orlando’s in Santa Rosa. He has been in the local food scene ever since and the Cioppino Recipe is his signature dish for this restaurant.

Friday and Saturday evenings a single musician is present to entertain the diners. It is often a solo guitarist or someone who plays and sings. Also there is a musician most Sundays. If you are interested in having soothing background music with you meal you can call to find out who is playing during these times. The number is 707-875-2933.

The menu starters are Shrimp Scampi Parmigiano, Laura Chenelli’s Chevre with tapenade, Calamari, Antipasti assortment, and of course the New England Clam Chowder. A house salad or a Caesar salad is 5.95 for a half and 8.95 full salad. There is also an Italian Chopped salad or Roshini Chicken salad for 7.50 a half or 13.50 full salad. There are seven options for Pasta dishes which range from 12.95 to 18.95. Sandwiches with a side salad are about 10.00. Pizza’s range from 9.00 to 15.00 and Nancy has introduced a new crust to go with the variety of toppings Ron prepares. Entrees are Cioppino starting at 19.95 and going to 28.95 as you add more crab and lobster; fish and chips, Snapper, Tilapia or Salmon 15.00 to 18.00 or a Chicken Marsala 15.95 or Top Sirloin and Prawns 19.95.

The wine list has wine by the glass for $6 to $8. There is sparkling wine and both light crisp and full bodied whites. The larger selection of reds includes one of my new favorites, Highway 12 ’06 Merlot for $30 or Highway 12 Blend ‘06 for $32. A list of well known local reds ranges from $26 to $49 and there are five selections of Italian Reds for $34 or less. They also serve a house red and house white at $22. Beer and Soda is also available.

The restaurant is open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. In the winter and cooler months they close at 8:30 p.m. You can call for reservations at 875-2933.

Pelican Plaza
1400 Highway One
Bodega Bay, CA 94923

The photographs for this article were taken by Jack Journey Photography.