It’s been super rainy in Sonoma lately, and while I have been attempting to be well-behaved and cook at home (all for the sake of saving money), I decided to take myself out to lunch at one of my favorite rainy day spots – Cafe Citti.
I’ve been a bit down in the dumps lately – I think I’m entering into a midlife crisis and I also just got dumped (so my ego is a bit bruised). Therefore life is a little off right now…
I’ve been writing a lot, trying to make it as a contractor and get this blog going. It’s hard to get motivated sometimes to get in the kitchen and prepare lunch or dinner.
So, I drove up to Kenwood, a small town just north of Sonoma, to go to Cafe Citti to pig out on tasty Italian food. Italian food is my comfort – pasta, to be exact, and I needed comfort this weekend, that is for sure.
Arriving at Cafe Citti
Cafe Citti is a trattoria, a casual Italian restaurant. The little white building is rather unassuming, and dare I say a little dumpy looking, but, as one learns living in Sonoma Valley – some of the best restaurants in the area could use a little work to their facade (in fact, Cafe Citti was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives).
I like to sit at a two top in the window, therefore, I always get there early for lunch service. They open at 11 AM and whenever I get there after 12 noon on a weekend, I have to wait for a table. So, 11:30 it is.
If it’s nice out, I’ll sit outside on the patio, which is dotted with umbrellas and charming murals.
Take heed – It’s a challenging parking lot because the traffic usually stinks on the highway, so take care when parking out front (and when backing out). You can also park in the back and on Shaw Avenue (near VJB Vineyards & Cellars).
Placing your order at Cafe Citti
When you enter don’t sit down because you order at the counter. The menu is vast and written on white boards, so take your time. After you put your order in at the counter, you sit down and you’ll be taken care of for the rest of your meal. You’ll also pay at the table, so no need to get your wallet out when you’re at the counter.
Cafe Citti offers hearty salads, soups, panini, pastas and tasty rotisserie chicken, the latter which is stuffed with garlic, rosemary and sage. You can build your own pasta dishes by selecting the sauce and noodles (tip: you can get half orders of pasta!). The panini are offered at lunch only. Make sure to check the specials board for daily specials.
At the register you’ll see bagged Italian breadsticks. They’re free! So grab one for your table to nibble on or for the road.
As I mentioned earlier, I like to sit at the window. I watch the rain fall, the traffic go by, tipsy tourists wandering the streets looking for tasting rooms, and the view – well, it’s just gorgeous.
Time to eat (and drink) at Cafe Citti
The wine selection at Cafe Citti comprises a handful of inexpensive Italian wines. I often chose a red wine, either a Montepulciano or a Sangiovese.
If you’re feeling like sparkling wine, avoid their Prosecco, which is served in little screw cap bottles, and go next door to VJB and buy a bottle of their Prosecco – because there is no corkage fee at Cafe Citti! Which means you can BYOB. In fact, I had no clue there was no corkage fee until I was doing a bit of research for this post. Score!
Cafe Citti is famous for their Caesar salad – it’s large (well, ok, every portion there is large) and the amount of garlic in the dressing will leave you with the magical ability to fend off vampires for weeks.
I wasn’t in the mood for that since I was going to be getting plenty of garlic in my entree, so I opted for the caprese. Their caprese consists of large slices of tomato, served with housemade mozzarella, topped with basil and served with olive oil and balsamic. It’s big enough to split, or, for me, perfect for my mid-life crisis gorging.
However, this is what I really came here for – A.O.P.
This is simple Italian food at its finest: olive oil, garlic, and pancetta. Add a touch of red pepper flakes and you have a light, yet flavorful, spicy pasta.
Did I mention garlic? They are huge, cooked pieces that can be a bit of a surprise to bite into. Granted, I push a few to the side, but, the dish is so flavorful that you’ll be glad for those big garlic pieces!
I could have eaten the whole bowl. In fact, I have eaten the whole bowl in the past (and had to put my sweatpants on when I got home, urgh). This time I ended up taking 1/3 home for breakfast in the morning – toss a fried egg on it and you’ve got a tasty savory breakfast.
If the A.O.P. isn’t your thing, there is no shortage of options: Bolognese, marinara, white & red clam, pesto, arrabbiata…you get the picture.
Final thoughts about Cafe Citti
After another glass of wine, I was happy, sated and ready to hustle through the rainy weekend.
Cafe Citti is like a warm blanket – it’s cozy, unpretentious, casual and chock full of comfort food. For me, it’s a respite from the cold – it warms me physically and mentally. It reminds me of my grandma’s amazing Italian food and that things are going to be just fine.
Cafe Citti is family friendly and dogs are welcome on the patio. It’s also ADA accessible.
Take action – visit Cafe Citti!
Stop by Cafe Citti when you’re in Wine Country – it’s a great place to fill up before a long day of wine tasting; spend time with family by the fireplace; or to stop by to pick up dinner on the commute home.
Cafe Citti is open for lunch and dinner. They are located at 9049 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, CA 95452. Call (707) 833-2690 or visit cafecitti.com for more information.
Do you have a favorite rainy day restaurant or cafe? Share it below!