All Fired Up About Monti's Rotisserie

Monti's Rotisserie

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All Fired Up About Monti's Rotisserie

One of the 'hottest' trends in Sonoma dining is wood-fired oven cooking. Though at Monti's Rotisserie & Bar in Santa Rosa's Montgomery Village, chef-owner Mark Stark has long known that, making an enormous wood-fired rotisserie the heart of his restaurant since it opened in 2004.

He uses the beast to roast his meats, poultry, fish and vegetables, and virtually anything else can benefits from the flames. The intense heat sears in juices and flavor while adding a slightly smoky crispy edge, and because Sonoma County produces some of the highest quality boutique-farmed ingredients in the world, only simple preparations are required for optimum flavor.

Just hearing the snap-crackle of the burning embers gets diners' mouths salivating in anticipation. Then, after the succulent meats cook slowly, rendering fat to fall-off-the-bone tenderness, they are presented as Mediterranean-style plates available as nightly specials served after 5 p.m.

The plates change all week long, and on weekends, the chef prepares a Saturday special of crispy Liberty Farms duck in sweet and sour duck jus, or smoked prime rib on Sundays, served with blue cheese butter and potato-bacon latkes.

The rest of the Mediterranean-American menu entices through lunch and dinner, too - (grilled ahi slathered in green olive tapenade is terrific), yet diners come specifically for their favorites, such as Monday's Moroccan-barbecued Gleason Ranch goat with tzatziki and crispy Meyer lemon potatoes, or Tuesday's pomegranate-glazed baby back ribs on a bed of Julyas' tangy-sweet wine kraut.

In a nod to modern tastes, there's even a full, gluten free menu, sacrificing no taste for stars like a barbecued Duroc pork chop alongside potato-bacon pancakes and jalapeno-apple sauce.

Pulling it all together is the cosmopolitan setting in the bustling Montgomery Village Shopping Center, where a lot of the activity takes place at the bar, offering 40 wines by the glass, and an oyster and shellfish station. The food recipes showcase big flavors, and so do the cocktails, such as the intriguing Smooth Criminal of Bulleit Bourbon, fresh lemon, OJ and maple syrup that's shaken then served straight up.

Dare we say it – it's a 'hot' concept, but one that's survived a delicious test of time.

714 Village Court, Santa Rosa, 707-568-4404,

Carey Sweet