Il Fornaio

Dining News: Second Sac Restaurant Adds Kitchen Tip Option


Following in the footsteps of Magpie, Ella has added a kitchen tip option to their receipts.

For those unfamiliar with the way tips are distributed, generally, only service staff can legally share in the tips. Kitchen staff is prohibited by law from getting a cut (unless servers choose to share their tips as a gift), and this leads to great pay disparities between the front of the house and back of the house staff.

Click here for a more detailed explanation of the issue.

Magpie was the first Sacramento restaurant to add a line where diners could choose to leave a tip of any amount for kitchen staff. Ella's option is similar, but the receipt asks if you want to "allocate 5% of the above tip to the Kitchen Staff." My server clarified that it meant that for every $100 in tips collected, $5 would go to the kitchen staff. This does not mean that if you leave a 20 percent tip, 5 percent goes to the kitchen, with the remaining 15 percent going to the servers.

One of the criticisims of the Magpie system is that some servers started to see less take home pay as diners started splitting the same tip percentage between service and kitchen staff. The Ella system seems to try to tackle this issue by strongly suggesting that 5 percent go to the kitchen, though I suppose one could change that 5 percent split to any number.

Selland's PR contact did not respond to a phone and e-mail request for comment and elaboration on Wednesday afternoon. My server at Ella during an afternoon visit said that the change took place at the beginning of the year.

While we're on the topic of tipping, there was a great San Francisco Chronicle article earlier this month that examined what's happened to restaurants that have tried to eliminate tipping and increase wages.

So when Sous Beurre Kitchen opened in the Mission in February, Mauschbaugh followed the example of five Bay Area restaurants that abandoned tipping in late 2014. He printed all-inclusive prices on his menu, which allowed him to pay his kitchen staff well above minimum wage and offer health insurance.

This October, though, Mauschbaugh aban-doned the tipless model and issued pay cuts. “We got overrun with taxes, and it became unsustainable,” he said.

Read the entire article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

More News:

Rum Rok - The weather may be cooling down but this newly opened Tiki bar has been heating up the downtown bar scene ever since it opened Dec. 9...Co-owner Bob Simpson hopes that the bar, which occupies a former nightclub space on the corner of H and 15th streets, will become a go-to stop for concert and theater-goers attending shows at nearby Memorial Auditorium and Wells Fargo Pavilion. In Sactown Magazine. (Fifth item.)

Soup as medicine: Aka Tonkotsu, Ryujin Ramen House - But there’s no rest for the busy, so I load up on soothing soups like the Aka Tonkotsu ($8.95) from Ryujin Ramen House. With spicy red ginger, green onions, BBQ pork and plenty of super-hot broth, it’s like medicine in a bowl. I love the semicooked egg, too, for its creamy smoothness. Ann Martin Rolke in Sac News & Review.

That parm, tho - Rocklin recently got its first Jimboy’s Tacos, which held its official grand opening last week. Welcome to Parmesan-dusted heaven, Rocklin. The Rocklin Jimboy’s (5410 Crossings Drive) joins the Folsom location and a few spots further away in testing new Jimboy’s menu items. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.

Tea, please - More and more boba shops keep opening in Natomas. The latest is T4 U, which boasts hip decor and excellent credentials. The first T4 opened in Taiwan in 2004, slowly adding more Taiwan locations before expanding to Malaysia in 2012. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review. (Fourth item.)

Bakery’s invisible expansion - Its customers may not realize it, but the popular Karen’s Bakery & Cafe in Old Folsom has practically doubled its space. After years of having its cooking and baking staff squeeze into a tiny kitchen, the business has leased a nearby building that formerly housed the Thai Siam Restaurant. Bob Shallit in the Sac Bee.

Continue reading "Dining News: Second Sac Restaurant Adds Kitchen Tip Option" »

15 Most Popular Happy Hours of December 2015


Here are the 15 most popular Sacramento happy hours of December 2015 (based on page views) on Cowtown Eats:

  1. BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse (Last month's rank: 1)
  2. Bento Box (Last month's rank: 2)
  3. Chicago Fire (Last month's rank: 3)
  4. Zocalo (Last month's rank: 4)
  5. Fat's Asia Bistro (Last month's rank: 5)
  6. Ruth's Chris Steakhouse (Last month's rank: 7)
  7. Cheesecake Factory (Last month's rank: 8)
  8. 33rd St. Bistro (Last month's rank: 6)
  9. Firestone Public House (Last month's rank: 9)
  10. Buffalo Wild Wings (Last Month: Unranked)
  11. Hook & Ladder (Last month's rank: 10)
  12. Burgers & Brew (Last month's rank: 12)
  13. Il Fornaio (Last Month: Unranked)
  14. Lucca (Last Month: Unranked)
  15. Broderick Restaurant & Bar (Last month's rank: 15)

Thanks for visiting Cowtown Eats! We had more than 48,750 page views and nearly 21,400 unique visitors.

I also want to give a special shout out to Cask & Barrel, Hook & Ladder and Ernesto's Mexican Food for generously sponsoring Cowtown Eats and keeping the lights on here. 

Thank you all for coming. If you have any tips/suggestions/thoughts, please e-mail me at [email protected]

Don't forget to check back daily for new posts and Cowtown Eats resources like the Cowtown Eats on TwitterFacebook and the Sacramento Happy Hour Map.

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Dining News: Sac Beer & Chili Festival is on Saturday

Have a hankering for chili? Or looking for a unique activity to do while the family's in town for Easter? How about the 3rd Annual Beer & Chili Festival at Fremont Park (16th & Q) on Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m.

Each $37 ticket comes with a 5 oz beer tasting mug and a chili tasting bowl. Both beer tasting and chili sampling are unlimited.

If you're a baller, you might opt for the $67 option, which also includes a t-shirt, swag bag and early admission at noon so you can beat the crowds.

The event is a fundraiser for The Sac Artists Council.

Local restaurants cooking chili include:

  • River City Brewing
  • 58 Degrees
  • Fat City
  • Starlite Lounge
  • Broderick Roadhouse
  • Bacon & Butter
  • Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Company
  • Golden Bear
  • Blackbird
  • Tank House
  • Sysco
  • Morgan’s Bar & Grill
  • Sutter Buttes Brewery

Local breweries who will be handing out unlimited tastes include:

  • Drake’s Brewing
  • Speakeasy Ales & Lagers]
  • 21st Amendment, Lost Coast
  • North Coast
  • Grand Teton
  • Two Rivers Ciders
  • Crazy Mountain Brewing Company
  • Ninkasi Brewing
  • Tap It Brewing
  • River City Brewing Company
  • Bike Dog Brewing
  • Tipsy Cow Creamery (Beer Ice Cream!)
  • Rubicon
  • Lagunitas
  • Hoppy Brewing Company
  • Sutter Buttes Brewery
  • Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
  • Sierra Nevada
  • New Helvetia Brewing Co.
  • Eel River
  • Six Rivers
  • Mad Rivers
  • New Glory Craft Brewery
  • Common Cider Brewery
  • Heretic Brewing Company

For more information or to get tickets, visit

More News:

VIDEO: Cooking with Il Fornaio - Chef Bruno Amato whips up some venison with house made blueberry preserves and soft polenta for Paul Robins and the rest of the FOX40 morning crew to sample. On FOX 40.

VIDEO: Sacramento Sweets Company - The Sacramento Sweets Company takes pride in only using the finest ingredients to make their sweets. Melissa Cabral is in the kitchen helping out making candy. On Good Day Sac Part 1 | Part 2.

Continue reading "Dining News: Sac Beer & Chili Festival is on Saturday" »

Dining News: 16 Places for Fall Comfort Food

The recent rains and the early dusks are reminders that Fall is finally here. Looking for dishes that help you feel like the fall? Consider these suggestions from the Sac Bee's Allen Pierleoni on or near The Grid.

  • We're happy as a clam with multiple chowder ingredients: tender chunks of sea clams, clam broth, white wine, sherry, cream, butter, bacon, potato, fresh thyme, bay leaves, Old Bay seasoning, celery, onion, carrot and coarsely ground black pepper. Get it at Jamie's Broadway Grille, 427 Broadway, Sacramento; (916) 442-4044; www.jamiesbroadwaygrille. com.
  • Begin the day with chicken-fried New York steak (hand-cut from a strip loin), breaded and deep-fried, with from-scratch country gravy. Get it at Evan's Kitchen, 855 57th St., Sacramento; (916) 452-3896,
  • Two winners: peppercorn-and-cumin-crusted bavette steak topped with melting blue cheese-infused butter (with perfect mashed potatoes); and luscious citrus-accented salmon that's so fresh it almost swims off the plate. Get them at Crocker Cafe by Supper Club, Crocker Art Museum, 216 O St., Sacramento; (916) 808-1289, www.
  • Fried pork ribs may be a staple in the South, but not around here – except for these. Raw pork ribs are coated in seasoned flour and fried in vegetable oil. They come out tasting like a crisp hybrid of pork chop and chicken. Moist, salty, delicious, especially when dunked in the outstanding house-made 'cue sauces. Get it at T&R Taste of Texas, 3621 Broadway, Sacramento; (916) 739-1669.
  • Better burger: The patty is a half-pound of Niman Ranch short-rib meat, topped with Spanish sheep's milk manchego cheese, Little Gem lettuce, tomato confit, onion straws and a "dijonnaise" of house-made mayonnaise and Dijon mustard from France. The buttered and grilled-to-a-crunch roll is from Grateful Bread bakery. Get it at Maranello, 8928 Sunset Ave., Fair Oaks; (916) 241-9365, www.maranellorestaurant. com.

Check out all 16 suggestions in the Sac Bee.

More News:

A Farm at the Center of Things - It’s best known for its salad mix. But Feeding Crane Farms does a lot more than proffer pretty produce. Since breaking ground a little over a year ago, the North Natomas organic farm busily extended its tentacles into a multitude of community ventures, from starting a CSA program to partnering with local restaurants for “farm to fork” dinners. You also can find Feeding Crane’s produce— tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, beans, squash, chard, kale, broccoli and more—at farmers markets and local grocery stores, including Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op and Corti Brothers. Owner Brian Shaad and his small but determined crew aren’t stopping there. If things go right, you’ll soon see food products boasting the Feeding Crane label, too. Cathy Cassinos-Carr in Sac Mag.

Enotria and Carpe Vino make the OpenTable Top 100 wine list - When you want a special bottle of wine with dinner, which restaurants are your go-to's? OpenTable has some suggestions, sort of. The San Francisco-based online restaurant-reservation company recently released its latest Diners Choice Top 100 Restaurants With the Most Notable Wine Lists. Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

Continue reading "Dining News: 16 Places for Fall Comfort Food" »

Daily Dining News: Enotria 'Stratospherically Upgraded'


Pajo Bruich gets a lot of buzz. I've eaten his food either at the former Lounge on 20 or at receptions catered by him, and his food has never ceased to amaze me. He recently started as the chef at Enotria, and the Sac Bee's Blair Anthony Robertson is impressed.

When I visited Enotria several times a couple of years back on the heels of the restaurant's $1.5 million renovation, my impressions were alarmingly mixed. It was a pretty good restaurant but an underperforming one, with great wine, mediocre food and a hazy notion of what it could and should be. If it were to become a good restaurant, it needed to tighten its focus, elevate the menu and improve its approach to marrying wine and food.

But a great restaurant? That would require lots more skill, plenty of hard work and a 10-pound bag of pixie dust.

And yet, Enotria has done it, suddenly and with a startling degree of wisdom and sophistication. It's not only the most improved restaurant I can remember, it has come back with a vengeance as perhaps the very best fine-dining restaurant in Sacramento and beyond.

Read the entire review in the Sac Bee.

More News:

Oishii sushi restaurant/karaoke rooms now open - Oishii Sushi Bar and Grill held its grand opening Thursday, announcing it will offer half-price karaoke rooms for the first week. The restaurant, located above the Cosmopolitan Cabaret at at 1000 K St., is the third one for owner Joe Zheng, who also owns similar places in New York and San Francisco. Brandon Darnell in Sac Press.

Dos Coyotes’ chile stew will be sold in north state Costco stores - Local restaurateur Bobby Coyote is going retail with his signature Dos Coyotes green chile stew. Starting next week, the stew will be sold in 53 Costco stores in Northern California. Mark Anderson in Sac Biz Journal.

Continue reading "Daily Dining News: Enotria 'Stratospherically Upgraded'" »

Daily Dining News: Billy Zoellin's Bacon & Butter to open on May 20

Billy Zoellin, the chef formerly at The Golden Bear when it was featured on Food Network's Diners, Dives and Drive Ins, new restaurant is opening on May 21. Located on 21st between K and L streets, Bacon and Butter fills the space formerly occuped by short-lived mexican resturant Mezkal. Sac Press's Brandon Darnell has more:

Bacon and Butter, located in the same building as Club 21 at 1119 21st St., will serve breakfast, lunch and brunch in a space designed to make diners feel like they are in their grandmothers’ kitchens.

“The name came because I was thinking about what you do, and it’s your bread and butter,” the 28-year-old Zoellin said Tuesday. “And then I thought, ‘What’s better than bread?’ For me, the answer was bacon.”

In addition to The Golden Bear, Zoellin worked at The Kitchen and two restaurants run by local restaurateur Patrick Mulvaney.

Read the entire article in Sac Press.

More news:

Planned Bento Box adds to Sacramento's sushi row - Jonathan Kim, owner of the two Bento Box restaurants, is opening a new location later this year in downtown Sacramento. The location will take 5,600-square-feet at the ground floor of the office building at 1600 K St. Mark Anderson in the Sac Biz Journal.

Brunch on the horizon: One week to get ready for Mother's Day dining - Sacramento has plenty of brunch options, and we traversed the region looking for them. We focused on quality cooking, interesting and meaningful menu options, fair prices, setting with service. We ordered omelets whenever we could, for the omelet done right indicates solid technique, attention to detail and an appreciation for proper seasoning. We landed in Auburn, El Dorado Hills and Old Sacramento, midtown and downtown. We even found restaurants serving excellent but underappreciated brunch fare within minutes of Tower Café, where folks line up for 30 minutes or more to get a table for brunch. Featuring Dad's Kitchen, Sienna, Hot Italian, The Eatery, Maranello, Bistro Michel, Taylor's Kitchen, Restaurant Thir13en, Latitudes and the Delta King. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Dining review: Mostly hits, a few big misses at Grange - My first meal under Ridgeway was excellent, though I don't remember much from the farm – it was all about the sea. The salmon was a thing of beauty – thick, rich in color and "undercooked" to perfection. Crispy skin on one side gave the fish an extra textural component, yet it was cool and tender and succulent in the middle. It showed exactitude and maybe a touch of moxie. The carne asada dish that day was something special, too, showing that this chef took to heart his time cooking in New Mexico. The Southwestern flavors were intense, exciting and thorough...Grange is not amazing. The food is good and sometimes very good. The service can still range from very good to pretty good, with routine table maintenance sometimes falling short. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Continue reading "Daily Dining News: Billy Zoellin's Bacon & Butter to open on May 20" »