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Sonoma County, CA, United States
A food and restaurant review through the eyes of a 13 year old and his family.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Romeo's Pizza & Pasta Restaurant - Petaluma

Romeo's Pizza & Pasta Restaurant is a family run business in Petaluma. It's across from the Golden Eagle Shopping Center in a river front building.

We like to go here because it is family owned, simple, casual and family friendly. When we go to Romeo's I usually order the ravioli's and I get a combination of beef and cheese. You get to choose the sauce for your pasta - marinara, meatball, alfredo or creamy pesto. I order the meatball sauce. It also comes in two sizes: small or large. I have only had the small size and it is HUGE! It's pretty good...BUT, the coolest thing is for the kids. They can create their own pizza! It's really inexpensive and fun for them. They bring a pizza pan, sauce, toppings of your choice, cheese and a ball of pizza dough to your table and you create it. It can be any shape, any size, whatever. It's probably one of the best kinds of things for the "basic eater" (like my sister Rylee). Rylee says, "It's really good! I get to make my very own pizza and I love Romeo's pizza!"

If you are in a hurry, you can get slices of pizza to go. They make lots of other pasta and salads. A great family friendly restaurant. Romeo's website is: www.romeosonline.com You can even make an order online.

Back to ravioli's for a minute, one of my all time favorite ravioli's is from Canevari's in Santa Rosa. They have been in business forever. My mom and dad had Canevari ravioli's at their wedding in 1987 and they were around way before they got married. Mr. Canevari and his family make the ravioli's fresh daily. They sell original, cheese, veggie and meat ravioli. They also sell sauce to go with it. My favorite is veggie with the original sauce. It's this little hole in the wall on Lewis Rd. in Santa Rosa off of Steele Ln. It kind of looks like a deli. When I get a craving for great ravioli's, I ask my parents really nicely if we can go to Canevari's and load up!.

To wind it up, here is my rating of Romeo's Pizza a& Pasta Restaurant in Petaluma:

How it felt: ***
Price: $
Food: ***
Service: ****
Kid Friendly: *****

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Food Adventures While On Vacation in Utah!













I went on a road trip to Utah for a close friend of ours wedding.

On the way to Utah we had to make a stop at Cabela's on the way in Reno, NV. It just happened to also be lunch time. Cabela's has a restaurant/grill in the store. They have things like, fried cheese curds, onion rings, fries, burgers, brats, salads, sandwich's, soups and kids meals. Some of the meat items that you can get are buffalo, venison and beef. We went to the grill and I ordered a buffalo burger....it was really good and it was very big. Buffalo meat usually comes from Montana. It is really tender, has very little fat and I think it has a better flavor than beef. My sister Rylee (the basic eater) had a kids meal which was a crustable PB&J that came with a snack pack of apple sauce and a drink. My mom had a grilled chicken sandwich and we shared a few onion rings. After finishing up at Cabela's....I also bought some of the best buffalo jerky that I've ever had. If you're on a road trip and you're going through Reno, I would recommend Cabela's Grill. It's quick and very clean and the food is better than a fast food restaurant.

After a long drive, we arrived in Utah. One of the best things about Utah is that people who live there get Winder Farms Dairy delivered to their door. This is the best milk and chocolate milk you'll ever have. Our close family friends, The Shober's, ordered some of the chocolate milk in real glass bottles. The next day was the wedding reception for our friends Nick and Heather. They had grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, different salads, every IBC soda you could think of and pie and ice cream for dessert. It was very fun. All the people in Utah are very nice.

We ended up staying for a week longer than we planned. My dad flew in one-way as a surprise and spent the rest of the time with us. My close friend, Uncle Bobby, took me to Sonic Burger while we were there. They don't have many in California so it was a very great experience for me. I had a Sonic Burger....DELICIOUS and an extra large cherry limeade with special ice in it. We spent another day touring the Temple Square in Salt Lake City (SLC). You have to have a temple recommendation to go in it and you have to be Mormon so I did not get to go in it. But we still got to tour the Mormon Tabernacle, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and the Conference Center. All of these buildings were amazing. I was very fascinated by the Mormon Religion and their buildings. I had lots of questions. In the Joseph Smith Memorial Building is a cafe called Neauvo Cafe (sp?) We had lunch there. I had a Tomato Asiago Soup with a fresh breadstick. It was very creamy and very good. I talked to the chef there for a bit and gave him one of my business cards. He was a really nice guy.

On another day we hiked at the Brighton/Solitude Ski Resort Area in the Wasatch Mountain Range. The Wasatch Mountains are ginormous and beautiful. At sunset they turn almost purple. That night we went to a Mexican restaurant called The Red Iguana. I heard about this restaurant on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri. It is in a dumpy area of Salt Lake City. We had to wait for an hour! There was a line outside the door but the wait was worth it. The interior of the restaurant had autograph pictures of ZZ Top, the Rat Pack, Guy Fieri and lots of other stars, musicians, etc. They also had tons of awards that they had won. This was truly the best Mexican food I have ever had. I had a Carne Asada Burrito with Mole Negro. The burrito was so big that it fell apart so I ate the filling and left the tortilla. The filling had carne asada (grilled steak), tomatoes, salsa, onions, rice and beans...it was very flavorful and the mole negro was AMAZING. It had banana, walnuts, raisins, Mexican chocolate, spices, etc. in the sauce...really different and really good. If you're ever in Salt Lake City, Utah you should definitely go there.

On another day, we tried another place that was on Diner's Drive-Ins and Dive's called Moochies. Moochies is located in kind of a residential area near Liberty Park where you can get fresh spring water from a fountain that comes straight from the Olympic mountain artesian well. My Uncle Bobby grew up in this area and took us for a drive around. Moochies is know for it's Philly Cheesesteak and Meatball Sandwich's. You can get a 6 inch or a 12 inch sandwich. I had a 6 inch Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich with no mushrooms. It had thinly sliced and grilled rib eye steak, grilled red and green peppers, onions and cheese. I love that sandwich! It is very filling and very delicious.

I forgot to tell you about going to this cool waterslide park with our friends the Ingram's. It is a big, awesome waterslide park called Cowabunga Bay. I had so much fun! They dump 12,000 gallon buckets of water on you...and some of the slides were so long that it was pitch black dark in them. It was a blast!!!

In Utah, they have the best grocery store ever called Harmon's. Harmon's is owned by 2 brothers. They built the store in Draper, Utah based on feedback and surveys from around the country on what the "perfect" grocery store would be. This store has 2 levels. The first level is the grocery store and the 2nd level they offer cooking classes and a lounge that you can sit and eat at. They have a gelato bar, a pizza oven, a sushi bar, an awesome deli, a salad bar, olive bar, a bakery and they sell Winder Dairy Farms milk....which is the best.
On another night...our friends Bree and Mike invited us over for dinner. They were in Alaska and had caught a boat load of halibut! They asked if I would want to cook dinner for them. So I did. I made poached halibut with a butter and white wine sauce, steamed carrots and homemade cesear salad. All of this I learned from Chef Roger of La Gare Restaurant. It turned out really good! The only thing that I was missing was some vermouth for the butter sauce and anchovies for the cesear. Bree let me use a the cheek part of the halibut which is supposed to be a delicacy. It was a great night at their house and I had so much fun cooking. She even had white pepper and shallots...I was very impressed!

This was one of the best Utah trips I've ever been on. I liked all the restaurants we went to, but most of all, the best part was hanging out with our friends. I am very thankful for them and I'm really happy for the new married couple, Nick and Heather. I can't wait to go back...to go skiing!












Sunday, August 1, 2010

One of The Best Days of My Life! - A "Full" Day At La Gare Restaurant


By now, everybody knows that La Gare Restaurant is my all time favorite restaurant. The reason it's my favorite restaurant is because it's family owned, the wait staff is really nice, the food is awesome and the best is the Chef/Owner Roger Praplan.

Roger and his sister Jackie asked if I wanted to come to La Gare and help prep for dinner service. I spent yesterday morning there. This was the coolest ever!
When I first got there, we walked into the kitchen. The kitchen is the cleanest kitchen and a perfect set up for cooking. The gas burner is 31 years old and it works like a brand new stove. Chef Roger was cooking Coq Au Vin, which is chicken in red wine. The chicken had been marinating for 3 days! He showed me how to carmelize pearl onions for this dish, and even first thing in the morning, they tasted great. I got to talking to Chef Roger about how he became a chef. He started cooking when he was really young in Switzerland and in France. His father taught him a lot about cooking. Over the years Chef Roger has cooked at different restaurants including the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco and Hotel Meridian in New York. My dad stayed at that hotel a few times for work and said it's a really nice hotel. He's even cooked at the Bohemian Grove. His family opened La Gare in 1979.

Chef Roger also teaches at the Santa Rosa Junior College. Chef Roger is my favorite chef.

While I prepped, Chef Roger taught me how to make escargot and the halibut special. These are my favorite dishes at La Gare Restaurant. We did over 100 escargot! Then we made a peppercorn sauce and a blue cheese sauce for steak. I liked the blue cheese sauce the best. I can't share the ingredients to anything because they are a secret. I also got to help do the raspberry tarts. This is a flaky pastry that has a really good cream spread over it, then layered with with fresh raspberries and then brushed with an apricot glaze. I had to brush the glaze in one direction all over the top. While I was there, Heather stopped by from The Bite Club. She took some pictures and sampled some of the food, and asked Roger lots of questions. It was great to see her, and she got a full tour of the kitchen when we were done.

We made reservations to eat there that night so I could try the food I helped with. We were seated by Jackie (Chef Roger's sister). She went over the specials. Our server's name was Bobbi. She was a very nice lady. We gave her our order which was an appetizer of escargot, an order of halibut, a NY steak with blue cheese sauce, the coq au vin, and for the "basic eater" my sister Rylee had buttered noodles with carrots. Chef Roger came out and took me into the kitchen to check things out. I talked a little bit with the kitchen staff and then brought my mom a morrel mushroom to try. Our escargot came and Chef Roger brought us the crab cake appetizer special. They were SO GOOD! I even got my sister to dip her bread in the escargot drippings which is a huge big deal. She even tried a little bite of the crab cake. Then next thing to come to our table was the cream of asparagus soup. It's one of my favorite soups at La Gare and my sister loved it. The restuarant was really busy...there was a huge party of about 15 people. Jackie asked if I would help serve the guests their dinner. It was really fun. After that, our server, Bobbi, asked me to help make a tableside Caeser Salad for a group of 4 sitting next to us. Again, it was awesome.

When I was done helping with the salad, our family had our dinner. Everything was great. After that, I went back to the kitchen where Chef Roger was making up a Panna cotta for my family to share. Panna cotta is like a flan, but it taste like the best vanilla ice cream on earth. It was served with mixed, fresh berry sauce. Panna cotta is now my favorite dessert at La Gare.

All in all, it was one of the most memorable days in my life, and I'll never forget it. This day gave me a real understanding of how much hard work and effort is put into cooking in a restaurant. It's not an easy day. Roger starts at 7 in the morning, works until 2 in the afternoon, gets a short nap, and is back at the restaurant cooking from 5 o'clock til 10 at night. That's a long day.

Thanks to Roger and Jackie for letting me come in and prep and teaching me how to cook escargot, and a few other secrets. It was the best.




(EDITORS NOTE FROM DAD-It's so easy to see why this is such a successful and established restaurant. Roger and Jackie have a passion for great food, but moreover, for great experiences. Chef Roger spends long, long hours in the kitchen, teaches at the local college, and still took time out of a busy Saturday-prep to spend two hours teaching and mentoring a 10 year old. He is obviously, and rightfully, proud of his kitchen and his products. Welcoming a reporter into your kitchen during prep is something I don't think every chef would do, but Roger did that with Heather from The Bite Club with no hesitation. Sometimes when something is around a long time, people forget about it, or overlook it. Those of you who have been there know, and those of you who haven't, should go.)