Restaurants & Bars

Crocket - Valona Café – Sunday meatloaf and live jazz

Krys | Apr 25, 200501:51 AM     5

Locals know it as Niki’s place. Niki runs the deli that seems to be a gathering place for the artistic community located in the town best known as the home of the C & H Sugar Company. On Sunday, Niki’s husband, a professional musician, brings the band to the deli for a jam session. Other musicians drop in and join the group during the evening.

It’s honest food, at decent prices with few surprises. The wine bar has a nice, if small, selection that is reasonably priced for a generous pour. However, you can nurse an espresso all night while listening to the music and no one will pressure you to order more.

Most people order a sandwich and I had the meatloaf on marble rye with mayo, butter lettuce and tomato ($5.50). It was a good sandwich. The cold cuts are mainly Saags and Columbo. Bread is from Richmond’s Maggoria bakery and baskets hold Italian loaves for sale.

The deli leans towards Italian. There’s a small grocery with a few pastas, sauces and such. There’s fresh mozzarella and Point Reyes blue cheese. You can special order muffaletta. There’s an Italian sausage with pepper sandwich.

A blackboard has the soup of the day and a special (chicken salad).

On Saturday and Sunday they serve a full breakfast.

The best thing about breakfast is the home fries which are crusty outside, coated with salt, sprinkled with herbs, strewn with thinly shredded mozzarella and cheddar and topped with a dollop of sour cream.

They came with the Niki’s Special – scrambled eggs with avocado and cottage cheese dusted with curry. It was just that … scrambled eggs, next to a scoop of cottage cheese next to slices of avocado with curry powder sprinkled over everything. It was all fine but I was expecting the ingredients in the scrambled eggs and not just neighbors on the same plate.

Niki says it’s a high protein plate and her children loved this growing up. Well, it is high protein, tasty and healthy … if you can resist those potatoes.

Pretty standard breakfast items which include eggs, breakfast meats, scrambles, omelets, waffles (plain and Belgium), oatmeal, breakfast burritos and sandwiches.

There’s nothing fancy about the décor. A large sunny window looks out on Pomona Street. The small kitchen is tucked in the far corner of the store. There’s a three stool counter between the kitchen and deli case. The opposite wall has the stage, baby grand piano, large CD collection and six stool wine bar. There’s one sidewalk table.

The beer/soda cooler is on the back faux brick wall. Next to the Chet Baker “Let’s Get Lost” poster is a large soft green neon Vino sign. An easel with some sketches for sale is next to the baskets of Italian bread.. One artist draws in his notebook while the music plays. From time to time there is a shout of appreciation from the audience. A musician with a violin joins the group and does some incredibly cool riffs.

The sun sets. The street lamps softly glow. The music heats up as the evening cools and Sunday in Sugar City seems a little sweeter.

Valona Market Café
1323 Pomona Street
Crockett, Ca 94525


9am – 11 pm all week

Wed-Friday 9 am – 11 am Deli Breakfast only
Sat –Sun 9 am – noon Full breakfast

Sunday 6 – 10 pm.

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