Dining News: Enotria to Reopen Today


That photo, taken on March 19, will be incorrect as of this evening.

Enotria, the restaurant that closed abruptly in January, will reopen as an event space/wine bar serving comfort food, reports Sonya Sorich in the Sac Biz Journal.

Enotria Restaurant & Wine Bar  will reopen as a wine bar on Thursdays through Saturdays, and will serve as a venue available for private parties on remaining days....

But Hardie has retained his role as owner in the restaurant's new incarnation, he said in a phone interview Wednesday.

He said he's reconciling any challenges by giving more responsibilities to a leadership team that includes general manager/events manager Brianna Fried and the restaurant's lead caterer, Gabriel Glazier, a former executive chef at Maranello and Slocum House. Matthew Lewis will direct Enotria's wine program.

Read the entire story in the Sac Biz Journal.

Also, here's the Sac Bee's version of the story.

Enotria is located at 1431 Del Paso Blvd and can be found online at

More News:

Feast and a foodie fight - Monday's "Insight" discussion veered from Feast when fill-in host Rick Kushman, a former Bee political reporter and lifestyles columnist questioned why restaurant reviews written by the Bee's Blair Anthony Robertson were "mean." Robertson wasn't in the studio -- or even anonymously on the telephone -- to defend the accusation but features editor Swanson fairly explained to Kushman the role and latitude of critics. Ed Murrieta in the Sac Biz Journal.

Mother, Sacramento - But the standout of the evening was the Fresh Pasta. This dish changes regularly, but on the night we dined it included fresh homemade noodles, peas, mushrooms, asparagus, buffalo mozzarella and mint leaves to garnish. Lucky for me that my friend who ordered this dish was willing to share because it was so fresh, so good and so clean plate-worthy. Now I am no vegetarian, but I didn’t miss the meat for a second during my meal at Mother. It’s walking distance from our office, so for my next visit I’m planning to grab a few fellow SacFoodies and head over for lunch. Who’s with me? Liz Conant in Sac Foodies.

Fruity Tipple: Ernesto’s Raspberry Mojito - I’m a big fan of mojitos, especially on warm afternoons—but I have found a variation on the traditional, super-minty version that just may become my new favorite. Ernesto’s Mexican Food crafts a lovely, blushing-pink raspberry mojito that contains raspberry puree in addition to a judicious amount of muddled fresh mint and lime. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.

Continue reading "Dining News: Enotria to Reopen Today" »

Dining News: Chefs that Also Write Yelp Reviews


During Sac Bacon Fest, local writer Becky Gruenwald marveled at the ability of one of her fellow judges to identify which chef cooked which dish even though it was a blind tasting.

btw, chef thiemann picked who had made every single dish. those darn chefs #baconfest

— Sacramento Foodways (@sacfoodways) January 27, 2014

It got me to thinking, given their finely-tuned palates and knowledge of the industry, wouldn't it be great if we could know what chefs thought of other restaurants.

Luckily for us, there's a local chef who occasionally takes to Yelp to deliver his verdict on restaurants he's eaten at - Michael Touhy. Chef Touhy is probably best known for his three years as chef at Grange and now heads the kitchen at LowBrau and the soon to open Block Butcher Bar. Here are a couple of his reviews.

Chef Touhy on Magpie Cafe:


Chef Touhy on Ramen House Ryujin:


Chef Touhy on Roxy:


He also reviews Shoki II Ramen House, Hot Italian and a number of restaurants in the Napa area.

I confirmed with Chef Touhy that these reviews are indeed his.

"Sometimes, I will write a review," said Chef Touhy in an interview conducted over Twitter direct message. "I try and be brief as it is usually from my cell phone. I will mostly comment when it is a positive experience and I care to share. Or, if it is absolutely Horrendous :)."

Unprompted, he also shared how he uses Yelp in addition to contributing the occasional review.

"I rarely read yelp," continued Chef Touhy. "If I'm traveling and don't have an agenda or, if I am at a loss for an area or a particular cuisine I'll pull it up. Then, I look at how many reviews and, how many stars. If they have like 600+ and are 4 stars out of 5, I will consider going. I do not read the reviews as they are pretty... another story:)

"I will look at my own establishment's Yelps and look for any consistent comments or what may be a trend. This can be helpful for identifying issues with service and consistency from the kitchen. I am not hyper vigilant however on yelp. It definitely has a place for now. It will be interesting to see how it plays out."

Read all of Chef Touhy's reviews on Yelp.

Do you know of other local chefs who write Yelp reviews? If you do, please share it in the comments.

More News:

Why do restaurants go out of business? - Restaurants close for all kinds of reasons, of course. Some people run out of energy. Many realize it’s way too hard. Gary Moffat, owner of the very successful (and enduring) Carpe Vino in Auburn, decided to weigh in on the issue via his blog and says he knows what the most basic reason is – financials. Or as he calls it, “restaurant mathematics.” Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Craving Thai Food? Drop Into The Coconut Midtown - I finally had a chance to check out The Coconut Midtown, a new Thai restaurant that inhabits a space on J Street that has housed a seemingly endless lineup of eateries. After a terrific meal at this small restaurant, it’s my hope that this is one establishment that will sink roots and stay put. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.

Continue reading "Dining News: Chefs that Also Write Yelp Reviews" »

Dining News: LowBrau & Block Butcher Bar Hire Former Grange Chef to Head Kitchen


LowBrau, the popular German beer hall at 20st & K streets, and its upcoming sister eatery Block Butcher Bar have brought on the talented chef Michael Tuohy to lead their culinary duties, reports Tori Masucci Cummins in Sactown Magazine.

Tuohy was widely lauded for being a leader in the farm-to-fork movement during his time at Grange, and prior to that, he was with the renowned Woodfire Grill in Atlanta for years. Most recently, he was the executive chef at St. Helena’s gourmet grocer Dean & Deluca. He and his wife Patti, who works at UC Davis Cancer Center, moved back to Sacramento from Napa at the end of May.

“This feels right,” Tuohy says. “Sacramento is a wonderful place to live, and the food scene has really taken off since I left.”

Hargis says he wants the LowBrau and Block Butcher Bar team to be known as “aficionados on charcuterie” by creating house-made salumi and other cured meats. With LowBrau’s menu, Tuohy plans to begin creating all of its sausages in-house, like a spicy fennel sausage, chorizo sausage and other unique variations with duck, goat and lamb. Other offerings will include pickled items like sauerkraut and kimchi, and main dishes like inventive panini sandwiches.

Read the entire story in Sac Mag.

Click here for more posts about LowBrau.

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Sacramento Mikuni chef wins global award - Sacramento Chef Taro Arai, owner of Mikuni Japanese Restaurant Group, won the 5th annual "Lord of Rice" contest put on by The Rice Trader, a publication for the global rice industry. As the Lord of Rice this year, Arai will lead judging in the World's Best Rice contest, part of the The Rice Trader World Conference Nov, 19-21 in Hong Kong. The conference is expected to draw 500 people from the rice industry and rice trading world. Mark Anderson in the Sac Biz Journal.

Feeding Crane Farms Opens Natomas Produce Stand - Feeding Crane Farms has opened a weekly, roadside produce stand in Natomas. The stand operates 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays off West Elkhorn Boulevard, just south of East Levee Road. The stand sells locally-grown, organic produce. On Natomas Buzz.

Ask a Pastry Chef: What to Eat at Estelle's Patisserie in Sacramento, CA - If you're a first timer, the pastry case can be daunting, with options ranging from delicate, single-serving cakes and tarts to rustic cookies and French macarons. To help make your decision easier, we got Esther's top five picks, which include a light strawberry cake that's easy to say yes to (even when you're watching your waistline) and an almond croissant made with 70-80 layers of dough. Erin Jackson in Serious Eats.

Continue reading "Dining News: LowBrau & Block Butcher Bar Hire Former Grange Chef to Head Kitchen" »

Dining News: Leadership Shakeup at Enotria


Since their multi-million dollar remodel, Enotria's been making moves to get into the highest echelons of the dining world. They brought on a forward thinking chef. When their top notch sommelier moved on, they didn't miss a beat when they promoted from within. And in January, they hired Anai Lawson as General Manager, a man who has worked at the French Laundry and Per Se, and who boasted just a couple weeks ago that his goal was to bring a Michelin star to Sacramento.

Well, over the weekend, Sac Bee restaurant critic Blair Anthony Robertson reported that Lawson and Enotria had parted ways.

Lawson did not return a phone message for an interview, but in a brief text message, he stated: "Family emergencies have come up where I couldn't spend that much time in Sacramento on a full-time basis. Enotria is in good hands and will prosper due to the efforts of their entire team."

Executive chef Pajo Bruich, whose work has taken Enotria to new heights since he started there in the fall, initially confirmed the news about Lawson's departure via a text message Friday night. In an interview Saturday morning, Bruich said the personnel change should not be seen as something negative...

"Anani and I are great friends and hold a tremendous amount of respect for each other," Bruich said. "He has decided to be closer to his daughter and re-evaluate what his desires are currently. I fully support his decision."

Read the entire story in the Sac Bee.

I certainly hope everything's ok Lawson and his family, but to me, it sounds a lot like the excuse every politician gives when they step down. In either case, I have a reservation to eat at Enotria next week for the first time since Chef Pajo Bruich took over the kitchen for a special occasion dinner. Despite this news, I've decided to keep it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Click here for more posts about Enotria.

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Beer, Brats and BBQ: Two new restaurants bring international food to Midtown -  Just when you thought there weren’t enough spaces left for bars and restaurants in Midtown, two new entrants have come upon the stage. One focuses on beer and sausage, the other on Caribbean flavors. One goes for the party crowd and hopes to be the center of attention. The other quietly dishes out bright flavors and hopes to be a spot of island relaxation amid the bustle of Midtown. Luckily for neighborhood residents and frequent visitors, both places do exactly what they’ve set out to do, and do it well. Let’s start with Midtown’s newest watering hole and sausage party, LowBrau Bierhall. Greg Sabin in Inside Publications.

Ernesto's Mexican Food: Save Room for Flan - If you like Mexican food, chances are you’re familiar with Ernesto’s in midtown. This festive dining spot is a favorite of my family – we often order the kitchen’s zesty, tomatillo sauce-drenched enchiladas suizas and the tender, crusty carnitas. But one of the best reasons to visit Ernesto’s (and its sister restaurant, Zocalo) is its distinctive and delicious flan. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.

Continue reading "Dining News: Leadership Shakeup at Enotria" »

Daily Dining News: Interview with Masullo Chef


Regular readers of this blog know that I love Masullo. The pizza's perfect. Their wait staff is delightful, and their prices are right. Sac Mag's Cathy Cassinos-Carr gets to know owner/chef Robert Masullo.

Robert Masullo is Italian, which helps when you’re the proprietor of a pizza joint known for serving Neapolitan-style pizza. But don’t go around calling it authentic, says the 41-year-old Masullo, who grew up in the same Land Park neighborhood where his hip pizzeria now stands. “If you’re not in Naples,” he argues, “you’re not really a Neapolitan pizzeria. But we do make it as close to authentic as we can.”

The Culinary Institute of America grad is apparently doing something right. Masullo Pizza opened in 2008 and is still standing, despite the Great Recession and the competition drummed up by the local pizza boom that spawned Hot Italian, OneSpeed and other competitors. It even won national acclaim recently when it made the list of Chris Bianco’s 11 favorite pizza places on the food website It’s high praise coming from Bianco, himself a legend in the pizza world. “I was so thrilled to have that sort of peer recognition from someone who speaks to what you’re trying to do—someone who understands it,” says Masullo.

Read the entire interview in Sac Mag.

More News:

Five Memorable Dishes - I have been lucky to enjoy a raft of terrific meals these past few weeks. Of all the dishes I happily devoured, these five were perhaps the most memorable...Featuring Biba Restaurant, Ernesto's Mexican Food, One Speed, Tower Cafe and Newcastle Produce. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.

New Hyatt chef making changes - Jason Poole, the new executive chef at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento, has made some changes at the hotel's restaurants — and he plans some more. Poole replaced Ian Libberton, head chef for six years, who moved to an executive position at the Grand Hyatt in San Francisco. Mark Anderson in Sac Biz Journal.

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Happy Hour at Ernesto's Mexican Food

Ernesto's Mexican Food
1901 16th St
Sacramento, CA 95814

Web site:


Happy Hour

Monday to Thursday
4 to 6 p.m.

Late Night Happy Hour

9 p.m. to Close

Continue reading "Happy Hour at Ernesto's Mexican Food" »

Daily Dining News: Best Mexican Dishes in Sac?


Sac Mag restaurant critic Kira O'Donnell has rounded up a list of her 13 favorite dishes at Mexican restaurants across the Sacramento region. Among her choices are:

Ernesto’s Mexican Food: Enchiladas Suizas - Enchiladas appear on practically every Mexican restaurant menu, and they’re often uninspiring. But these are a knockout, thanks to the electrifying green sauce that smothers the dish.
Tequila Museo Mayahuel: Chile Relleno de Queso - Delicate and light as a cloud, Mayahuel’s chile relleno is one of the restaurant’s finest dishes.
Centro Cocina Mexicana: Camarones y Calamares a la Parilla - For this enticing, light appetizer, chefs marinate Monterey Bay squid and shrimp in olive oil, serrano chilies and oregano, then quickly grill the meat, infusing it with a deliciously smoky flavor.

See her entire list in Sac Mag.

More News:

Fox & Goose takes to Facebook for an expanded response - Here's an update on the dust-up over a short but negative review of Fox & Goose in the Feb. Midtown Monthly. Social media is a powerful tool. Is this a good response from the pub? Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

10 most popular midtown restaurants - Two things make a restaurant popular: lots of diners. And lots of passion. To measure which midtown Sacramento restaurants capture both, the Sacramento Business Journal created an index that incorporates both the average rating and number of reviews on two popular online rating services: Yelp and Urbanspoon. Sac Biz Journal.

Continue reading "Daily Dining News: Best Mexican Dishes in Sac?" »