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Making a Scene

Wave of new restaurants to open in downtown Santa Rosa


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Downtown Santa Rosa's ho-hum dining scene is about to get a jolt of new energy with the opening of not one but six new restaurants.

There are three eateries opening on Fourth Street within shouting distance of each other. Going into the space vacated by La Bufa Mexican Restaurant is the Parish Cafe, a southerly outpost of the Healdsburg-based, New Orleans–style restaurant. Look for po' boys, gumbo, muffaletta sandwiches and beignets. Opening is planned in the next six weeks.

Next door in the corner space occupied by the short-lived Persona pizzeria will be the home of Gerard's Paella, a staple at the Occidental farmers market and street fairs all over the North Bay and beyond. Look for the classic Valencian rice dish, of course, but also seasonally inspired tapas. Gerard's should open in March. On the next block is the Jade Room, a wine bar and "oysterette" being created by the folks behind Sift Dessert Bar. Opening is set for March.

Andrea Ballus, CEO and founder of Sift and the woman behind Jade, says the restaurant will offer oysters, cheese and charcuterie plates, poke salad and other small-plate items. She hopes the coming restaurant boom will breathe life into downtown Santa Rosa's dining landscape.

"It's a little renaissance, and it's exciting to watch," says Ballus. "I feel a huge commitment to help downtown become the hub of the city."

While there are lunch options downtown, Ballus says the dinner choices for a fun night out are few. "I feel like there's been a hole in the market for date night. I'm tired of waiting for it to happen."

Overlooking Old Courthouse Square, Vertice will offer Peruvian tapas and cocktails, and next door, Perch and Plow will serve "seasonal California fresh comfort food" cooked by executive chef Michael Mullins. Perch and Plow held a well-received sneak peek last week and plans to open Feb. 1.

"We're so excited to be part of this restaurant boom and revival," says Avery Patentreger, Perch and Plow's general manager.

The nearby County Bench, which closed last year after failing to spark much interest, will be reborn as Indian Food and Social Club.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see who takes over the spot on Fifth Street recently vacated by Gary Chu's, a downtown mainstay for 33 years until it closed last May.

These planned openings come on the heels of Acre Coffee's debut late last year on Fourth Street, a locally based cafe that's giving nearby Peet's and Starbuck's a run for their cappuccinos, and 2 Tread Brewery at the Santa Rosa Plaza. The brewpub, which also opened last year, recently announced it's going to start featuring live music.



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