Some may recognize Chef/owner John Franchetti's name as the co-founder of Rosso Pizzeria in Santa Rosa and Petaluma. That partnership broke up a couple years ago. Franchetti claimed this catering/event space as his share and serves up breakfast/lunch every day, happy hour Wednesday through Sunday, plus dinner Wednesday through Sunday. I had a chance to check out Franchettis' Wood Fire Kitchen last month with a couple friends for Sonoma County Restaurant Week. Not able to get a reservation for Saturday night, we took our chances on a late walk-in and snagged the one open spot between the door and the ping-pong tourney. Yes, that's right, ping-pong. A lot of screaming and hollering by the teams and at least one ball bouncing off our dinner table made for a unique ambiance. But on to the food . . .
Mean+Green large pizza, $19.75, was just outstanding. The creamy, freshly pulled mozzarella and tender, leopard-spotted crust set a high water mark. Then the pesto base, roasted sweet onion, spinach, Italian sausage, black pig bacon, dots of Calabrian chili paste add up to more than enough to make a pizza purist shudder. But what great flavors exploded from this combo. The pesto was so fragrant, hard to believe we could be tasting this mid-summer level of intense, fresh pungency in early March.
Pasta Pomodoro, $12.25, plus a meatball, $3.50, was delectable carb-loading for the athletes in training. The firm bite of the gluten-free organic quinoa spaghetti was impressive. Rich and zesty tomato sauce, pine nuts and shavings of parmesan made this a comforting choice.
Two of us opted for the three-course $29 dinner menu http://www.sonomacounty.com/restauran... . We were shocked by the generous size of the appetizer course. I had a slight preference for the Crab and fresh burrata with roasted tomatoes, but nothing wrong with the Roasted asparagus and radicchio with house-smoked pancetta and preserved lemon. Both of us went with the Liberty duck plate featuring half a slow roasted local duck, mashed sweet potatoes, house-made apple kraut, currant agro dolce and thyme demi. This was a more rustic prep than the apps, and again, a huge portion, especially considering the discounted price. The panna cotta dessert was the weak point of this meal, as it had curdled and separated, but the rhubarb-strawberry compote topping was fine.
We ordered some fine local brews, and no corkage was charged on my BYOB. My friends, visiting from San Francisco, could not get over the high quality of the food and reasonable prices at Franchettis'. The regular menu features locally raised meats and entrees with only one exception are $18 or less with most being quite a bit less. One dining companion quipped that this was Chuck E Cheese with better pizza. It's certainly winner of best food in a ping pong parlor. Though we enjoyed the cooking greatly, each of us expressed some hesitation about returning due to the din and tried to think of strategies that would allow us to go back. Maybe sitting outside or further from the ping pong table and putting green would buffer the noise. Or avoiding the weekend sports crowds. We also wondered if lunch time clientele with less alcohol consumed might be less boisterous. As the weather warms, I'll be tempted to get a pizza on the patio. Worth another chance and some effort to accommodate, yes, Franchettis' is that good.
Franchettis' Wood Fire Kitchen, Catering & Events
1229 N. Dutton Ave
Santa Rosa, Ca. 95401
Breakfast + Lunch, Monday-Friday - 10:30am-2:30pm
Breakfast + Brunch + Lunch, Saturday + Sunday - 9:30am-1:30pm
Dinner, Wednesday-Sunday - 5:00pm-8:30pm
Happy Hour, Wednesday-Saturday - 4:30pm-6:00pm and Sunday - 4:30pm-8:15pm
Free corkage on Sundays