After at least half a dozen years stalking Chef Mark Malicki, Melanie Wong was pleased to catch up with him again at Casino Bar & Grill in Bodega, where he’s cooking dinners on certain days of the week (reportedly, Friday to Tuesday). His posted menus include dishes like warm rabbit salad with huckleberries, hazelnuts, and cream; fideo with shrimp, mussels, and kale; and oxtail-stuffed piquillo peppers. With no item over $15, “this is a true bargain in farm-to-table cuisine,” Melanie says.

On a recent visit, the menu was barbecue—with Chef Malicki’s own special touch. The beef ribs were a show-stopper: “Smoky from the grill, the kalbi-cut short ribs were spicy, garlicky, and sweet,” says Melanie. The flavors are bold, but balanced. Collard greens are tender but not mushy, topped with roasted fennel and onion strips.

The mac ‘n’ cheese “wouldn’t win any beauty contests but had loads of cheesey goodness,” probably from a variety of cheeses to achieve its depth of flavor.

Casino Bar & Grill [Sonoma County]
17000 Bodega Highway, Bodega

Discuss: Chef Mark Malicki at Bodega’s Casino Bar & Grill

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