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Walnut Creek Magazine

There’s Always Something New – and Tasty - at Sausalito’s Poggio Trattoria

Jan 19, 2017 08:57PM ● By Fran Miller

Chef Ben Balesteri prepares Bollito Misto

It is easy to mistake Poggio Trattoria for a tourist spot. Located on Sausalito's heavily trod Bridgeway, on the ground level of the Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa, Poggio’s marina facing open windows beckon the multitude of ferry passengers just off the boat from San Francisco. Poggio does roll out the red carpet for day visitors, though the locals who frequent the place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner are its heart and soul. But the truth is, anyone who enters is considered a local and is treated as such.

This classic and warm Italian trattoria is overseen by the dashing Chef Ben Balesteri who uses the best local ingredients in his Northern Italian-inspired cuisine. A welcoming vibe, a great bar scene, and an expansive and ever-changing menu are Poggio’s hallmarks. Proprietor Larry Mindel, a 30-year veteran of the Bay Area food scene, has taken everything he’s learned from stints at Il Fornaio, Prego, Ciao, and MacArthur Park to create a truly great restaurant experience – one at which everyone feels right at home.

The casually elegant interior features Italian glass and silk chandeliers, dark mahogany booths, and terra cotta marble. On sunny days, Westward facing sliding doors open to welcome Bay breezes and allow for sidewalk seating. It’s the perfect setting for Balesteri’s rustic fare. His seasonal and extensive menu frequently changes and features the best and most flavorful ingredients he can find at local farmer’s markets and in the restaurant’s own garden. Specialties include perfectly blistered Neapolitan style pizzas, house made pastas, delicious grilled fish dishes and braised meats. Spectacular sides include smoky and tender carciofo, a creamy cauliflower custard with Medjool dates that is so sweet, it could be listed on the dessert menu, and chicken liver mousse crostini. There are literally so many delicious items on the menu that several visits are required to fully appreciate all of the amazing flavors.

Bollito Misto

Bollito Misto sauces

You’ll not want to miss Poggio's special events, such as Baluster's recent Bollito Misto table side presentation - a traditional Milanese winter meal consisting of various cuts of meats (cotechino sausage, beef tongue, brisket, veal breast and oxtail) slowly simmered in a rich broth and served with a selection of homemade sauces including salsa verde, horseradish crème fraiche, bone marrow butter, and kumquat mostarda. Balesteri is the only chef in the San Francisco Bay Area to recreate the authentic dish with an imported Italian carrello (cart) in which he served the meat tableside on heated plates. It was a beautiful and delicious performance.

Or stop-in on a Tuesday night for ‘Tuesday Night Supper,’ Balesteri’s weekly family-style meal reminiscent of the Italian-American tradition. After a busy day, settle into one of the cozy booths and surround yourself with friends and family while enjoying bountiful shared plates of seasonal antipasti, a main course, and dessert for $30/person.

Poggio means “hill” in Italian; Balesteri and his team have clearly made it to the top with no intention to ever descend.

Poggio: 777 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA

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