Franchetti’s Wood Fire Kitchen
Chef John Franchetti has long been beloved for his Santa Rosa’s Rosso Pizzeria + Wine Bar and Petaluma’s Rosso Pizzeria + Mozzarella Bar, plus his Rosso Eventi + Rosticerria in Santa Rosa.
Now, we can love him even more, at his new Franchetti’s Wood Fire Kitchen. The space isn’t actually new – it’s in what was previously called Rosso Eventi + Rosticerria on Dutton and College avenues. But this past December, Franchetti and his Rosso partner Kevin Cronin split up, with Cronin keeping the two Rosso restaurants.
It was a friendly deal to allow Franchetti to focus more on his private event activities at his space, plus ramp up more of the off-site Cal-Italian theme parties he likes to cater with wife, Gesine.
For daily diners, the news is extra good, since Franchetti has expanded menus, and added dinner service. Rather than focusing on rotisseries and porchetta as before, the line-up now ranges all across egg dishes, sandwiches, pizza, small plates and big plates like the signature “4-H Fair pig roast” of luscious cuts sourced nose to tail (ask for daily preparation and price).
Start your day with Chetti’s Hash, a skillet of bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, rustic cut potatoes, chicken and bacon topped with over easy eggs that melt into the whole marvelous mess ($12.75). At lunch, it might be tri tip dip fancied with chimichurri, garlic aioli and caramelized onions on ciabatta with jus for dipping ($10.25), or the Harvest Fair award-winning chicken sandwich topped in apple slaw with chile mayo ($9.75).
As he did at Rosso, Franchetti sends out thin crust wood fired pizzas that are properly moist in the middle and crisp bubbled on the edges (small 11” / large 14”).
A white style begins with garlic, herbs, EVOO and parmesan; add toppings for combos like the exotic mushroom piling king oyster, oyster, hen of the woods and tarragon roasted fungi atop Fontina, taleggio and arugula ($16/18), and even better with an organic fried egg (add $2).
A red style starts with marinara, garlic and oregano, finished in combinations like the Manchester 92 of mozzarella, caramelized onions, pepperoni, Italian sausage and prosciutto ($17/$19).
Another specialty is piadini, or salad served on pizza crust with EVOO, garlic, herbs and parmesan ($13). One of the bestsellers is the Caesar model, lively with anchovy lemon dressing, Gorgonzola, Calabrian chili paste and lemon oil – you can try to pick it up, but it’s easier to eat with knife and fork.
The list of small plates is lengthy, but rancini is a stand-out, bringing savory risotto balls stuffed with sweet Italian sausage, roasted peppers and pimento cheese for dunking in garlic aioli and lemon EVOO ($2 each). This is excellent seared polenta, too, made with Tierra Farm corn and scattered with mushrooms, arugula and tiny Peruvian sweet peppers plus a side of truffle porcini spread ($14).
For dinner, a quarter roasted chicken is simple but stunning, dressed with lemon oil and Calabrian chili paste – the juices and flavors moisten the roasted fingerling potatoes alongside ($14.95). And for another example of simple cooking can shine, the pasta pomodoro is a delicious toss of gluten free organic quinoa spaghetti with pine nuts and shaved parmesan ($12.25), a must with meatballs added ($2 each).
One thing hasn’t changed: pastry chef Dominique Cortara still rents space here, sending out breakfast pastries and other sweets like sumptuous lemon cheesecake kissed with blood orange curd ($5.75). If you haven’t been able to save room, there are no excuses – you can take dessert to go.
Franchetti's Wood Fire Kitchen: 1229 Dutton Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-526-1229. Hours: Breakfast and lunch 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri. plus 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sat. & Sun.; dinner 5 to 8:30 p.m. Weds.-Sun.
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