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Restaurants & Bars

Monti's in Santa Rosa

Food Tyrant | Dec 6, 2005 10:51 PM

She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed lunched with our in-laws yesterday at Monti's Rotisserie and Bar in Santa Rosa.

It is a nicely appointed place in a mall with a reasonable level of background chatter. The chef from Willi's Bar in Santa Rosa and Healdsburg opened this place and the menu looked interesting with small plates abounding. My kind of place where you can order lots of different dishes.

So we did.

They have a tasting section for $11 where you pick 3 items. We chose the Crab Stuffed Deviled Eggs, the Smoked Salmon Rillettes and the Hummus with Lemon Oil and Harissa. They were served on a long oval platter with thin, crisped slices of baguette. The crab was quite salty and did not impress anyone. The smoked salmon was good, but the hummus was the best item on the plate, a rich slightly spicy blend of chickpeas and lemon. Maybe I should have tried the Duck Liver
Mousse with Truffle Honey?

We then had some Crispy Calamari, Rock Shrimp, and Fennel with Lemon Aioli. Very well done in that the calamari was not rubbery, but soft and flavorful. I would have liked more garlic in my aioli but this was a good choice. Note that they flatten the calamari before dipping in the batter so it was a little weird to eat flat tentacles.

The House Made French Fries Tossed with Gorgonzola and Rosemary was another disappointment. The thinly sliced potatoes (tend to cool rapidly) with some gorgonzola sprinkled on it was served in a small steel pan. There wasn't much rosemary smell or flavor although plenty of thick rosemary sticks were evident. Lots were left over.

The Wild Mushroom Pizza with Roasted Garlic Confit and Fontina Cheese was good, but we were warned that it was going to take 20 minutes. A curious warning. We were planning on sticking around at least that long. But the server seemed intent on making sure that we were not hungry and didn't mind the wait (maybe he had forgotten all the other stuff we had ordered? I don't know. I'm trying to be generous). The pizza was of the thin crust variety, generous in size, and they burned it. 20 minutes in an oven can do that to you, don't you know? It wasn't very burned but definitely on the black side. Again we have had better.

For the meat eaters, the Open Faced Grilled Sirloin Burger was quite tasty but cooked beyond to what we had asked for. More medium than rare with barely a hint of pink. Still it was tasty but the stewed veg that accompanied it was not worth the space on the plate. The green beans had that washed out green pallor that comes from overcooking. Frankly it was a surprise to see such insipid looking veg in this day and age.

The Spit Roasted Pork Loin Sandwich with Pomegranate Glazed Onions was also good if a little sweet to my taste, but they did say pomegranate glazed onions, so I can't complain.

Finally there was the Tunisian Dungeness Crab Briks (no typo) on Tomato Chutney. Sadly they were reminiscent of the crab in the Deviled Eggs, salty and not very flavorful. These Briks are essentially crispy fried egg rolls cut in half (not on a bias)and served on a tomato chutney. Now while it isn't tomato season anymore I figured that the chutnification was ok. And it was tasty. And we did ask about the Tunisia bit but the server hadn't a clue.

We were a little light on the drinks although they looked like they had an interesting bar and wine menu. A nice Prosecco for $6 and what I was told was a lightweight Bloody Mary (with Balsamic). The coffee and tea comes in plunge pots and was also very good.

So there you have it. Another restaurant that proves the law of the middle. Not worth the $150 for 4. Of course we ordered more than normal, but still it was an expensive waste of time. While the menu sounds good, execution was lacking. None of the dishes really had that snap or pop that you would expect from the descriptions. But it was one visit and perhaps if we are in the area againwe might go back. Then again I kind of want to try Zazu and from what I hear it is a far better deal than this was.

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