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SATISFYING SATURDAYS
10/30/2010
Satisfying Saturdays
Sausalito’s Poggio—A Great Trattoria

90 POGGIO RISTORANTE 777 Bridgeway Sausalito, California 94965 (415) 332-7771
http://www.poggiotrattoria.com

By Stephen Eliot

So many wines, so many restaurants, so little time. We confess that what we do for a living is not an unbearable grind and that we do, in fact, revel in discovery, but sometimes the moment calls for something comfortable and familiar and certain to please. In truth, we do not find ourselves making repeat visits to many restaurants even when we are impressed with the food, but there is a special small handful that we return to again and again. Last Saturday, Charlie introduced one of our favorites, Oakland’s Bay Wolfe Restaurant, and I have the same personal, almost-proprietary feel about Sausalito’s Poggio Trattori.

Now, Poggio requires a bit of a drive across a bridge or two for us East Bay folks, but the rewards far outweigh any effort such commute may entail. Inspired by the rustic cuisine of Northern Italy and headed by the passionate and very talented Chef Peter McNee, Poggio turns out a constantly changing menu of innovative, deeply flavorful dishes that, while never fussy or precious, are about as interesting and genuinely soul-satisfying as trattoria food is likely to get. While invoking the usual “seasonal”, “locally produced” mantras that seem almost mandatory of Bay Area chefs, the menu at Poggio simply goes several steps further and transcends typical Italian fare as translated by an American kitchen.

Outstanding recent offerings include oak-grilled lamb tongue with beets , horseradish and soft-cooked egg; goat head stew with calabrian chile, chickpeas and semolina gnocchi; Littleneck clams with pork belly confit, butter beans, peperonata; Whole wheat fettuccelle, sardines, castelvetrano olives, breadcrumbs; and braised lamb neck ragu with polenta filled pasta, english peas, mint…and, well, you get the idea. Of special note, Poggio periodically features special multi-day events such as a celebration of Bolitto Misto that takes simply boiled meats to new heights, and, every Fall, the Festa del Tartufo, or festival of white truffles is absolutely not to be missed. This year, the 7th annual Festa runs from November 9 to November 13, and we will be there.

The place is roomy and open and never so noisy that conversation becomes a challenge, and in warm weather it front façade opens to sidewalk dining. The wine list is extensive, well chosen and reasonably priced. It is on the San Francisco Chronicle’s list of Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants, and it is on my short list of places to eat when I do not want to think but only want to be feel good.

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