12/07/2012 12:37:00 PM

4 Healdsburg Newcomers: Parish Cafe, Cafe Lucia, Bravas Bar De Tapas and Taverna Sofia

Things are getting interesting in the town of Healdsburg where permutations of Cali/Ital/wood-fired pizza/fine dining have dominated the culinary landscape for years. Great for tourists, but not so much for locals who crave something a little different. Lucky for them in the past month alone, four new regionally diverse hopefuls have opened in town, offering diners are little something new. 

Café Lucia: The newest of the bunch, this just-opened stylish newcomer in Healdsburg serves up affordably priced “Cozinha Nova Portuguesa”, a.k.a. contemporary Portuguese cuisine, albeit with wine-country twist and locally sourced ingredients, paired with wines that favor Portugal and Healdsburg. The owner, Lucy Fincher, runs the place with her brother, Manuel Azevedo, who insiders will recognize as the chef/owner of LaSalette in the town of Sonoma; tucked away behind the La Crema tasting room down a pedestrian alley, the stylish 45-seat dining room (formerly home to Affronti wine bar) is decorated with oversized photographs of landscapes of the Azores and Portugal and opens up onto a 35-seat all-season landscaped courtyard featuring tiny white lights and traditional Fado music playing overhead (235 Healdsburg Ave, suite 105, Healdsburg, 707-431-1113).

Taverna Sofia: Greek-born chef-owner Sofia Petridis-Lim relies on a combination of imported and locally sourced organic larder to recreate the food of her homeland at her namesake casual Mediterranean taverna, off the Healdsburg plaza (formerly home to Bovolo); the small slate of authentic mid-priced Mediterranean mezze, salads, gyros and entrees - don’t miss her rendition of moussaka, along with fresh baked sweet and savory pastries such as spanikopita and baklava (washed down with both Greek and Sonoma county coffee and wines) are available both to-go and in the petite white-washed walled dining room and sunny back patio where a mural of Santorini beckons  diners to the isles. Where you can while away the afternoon with a cup of strong Greek coffee or glass of vino (244 Healdsburg Ave; 707-431-1982).

Bravas Bar De Tapas: This new Spanish-style tapas bar in downtown Healdsburg, the fifth venture from the restaurateurs behind Willi’s Wine Bar, showcases mid-priced traditional and modern Iberian small plates along with what’s being billed as Sonoma’s first ham and cheese bar staffed by trained “hamboners” who cut paper-thin slices of Jamón Ibérico by hand to order; the converted bungalow (formerly home to Ravenous) also boasts a covered, heated back patio that includes its own full bar for quaffing sangria, Iberian beer and wine or a Spanish-inspired gin and tonic (420 Center St., Healdsburg, 707-433-7700).

The Parish Café: Just a few blocks off the plaza, in a converted old yellow house tucked away in a mini-strip mall, Louisiana native Rob Lippincott (formerly of Bistro Ralph and the catering company Louisiana Legacy) is drawing in locals and raves with his authentic New Orleans-style breakfast and lunch fixings - shrimp and grits, gumbo, fried seafood platters and a variety of po’ boy sandwiches served on crunchy baguette specially made by local Costeaux Bakery, along with plates of addictive, heavenly light beignets served all day, which you must wash down with cups Café au Lait, made with real chichory from the French Market; the small room (with additional seating on the porch) hums with Preservation Hall-style music and the activity of Lippincott and his sweet Southern crew working in the open kitchen; come spring, he hopes to open for dinner (601 A Mill St Healdsburg, 707-431-8474).

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