Every region needs a gathering spot, and for Sonoma County, that place might just be Petaluma. Indeed, the entire town caters to an active-, music-, food-, and fun-loving lifestyle, and this is where people go for later night action, plus plenty of street festivals like the annual Salute to American Graffiti party, Butter & Egg Days Parade, and Taste of Petaluma culinary fair.
Here is where you’ll find destinations like Taps Restaurant and Beer Tasting Room (54 E. Washington St., Petaluma, 707-763-6700), a shrine to hot dogs, brats, sausages and beer. Think “Cheers,” and you’ve got this cozy hideaway, set in a wood-paneled basement space beneath the historic Hotel Petaluma (205 Kentucky St., Petaluma, 707-559-3393). Taps is not just any suds, either, but 30 craft, microbrewed and Belgian beers on tap. Owner Eric Lafranchi also offers a wide array of domestic and imported canned and bottled beers, with varieties posted weekly on chalkboards above the long wooden bar.
The franks are fancy, too, like a BLT of a bacon-wrapped Miller’s foot-long that’s deep-fried, then dressed with lettuce, tomato, and mayo, or a Reuben of an all-beef dog piled with pastrami, Swiss, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing.
Also in the Hotel Petaluma, taste wine and local cheeses and view work by local artists at Barber Cellars (112 Washington St., Petaluma, 707-981-7034); and enjoy oysters and other fresh seafood in The Shuckery (100 Washington St., Petaluma, 707-981-7891).
Another gem glitters in Rosso Pizzeria & Mozzarella Bar (151 Petaluma Blvd., Petaluma, 707-772-5177), in Petaluma’s Theater District. It’s an offshoot of the enormously popular Rosso Pizzeria and Wine Bar in Santa Rosa (Creekside Center, 53 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa, 707-544-3221), and anyone craving a little company will find the crowds converged here seven days a week.
Chef-owner John Franchetti and co-owner Kevin Cronin offer award-winning artisan wood-fired pies, and also pulled-to-order mozzarella among a boutique cheese selection called “Latteria,” with assortments made fresh every hour.
Mozzarella can be paired with guanciale, green olive and Fresno chile toast, straciatella cheese can be had with bottarga (caviar), jalapeno and tomato confit toast, or you can get homemade burrata, served with Prosciutto di Parma or warm braised leeks, sieved egg and tarragon breadcrumbs.
For the finishing touch, drinks. The Petaluma location boasts a wine list called “In the Hood” featuring wines from the Petaluma Gap.
It just doesn’t get any more neighborhood-happy than that.