What's the best lunch deal in downtown Santa Rosa right now? The contenders are many, but Small Bites is partial to the chicken parmigiana at Mercato Pasta & Produce, the Chandi Hospitality Group resto on Third that was Bibi's Burgers for about 10 minutes last year before transforming into a pasta joint and marketplace, seemingly overnight. The $8 menu item features a breast of chicken dolled up in marinara and mozzarella, and comes with pair of honkin' slabs of coarse, oily bread and a side ramekin of marinara; you can also get the mind-melting Mercato meatballs with the same accompaniments. Listed on the "Snacks" portion of the menu created by 2018 James Beard finalist Niven Patel (pictured), the tidy chunk of chicken-parm is the perfect portion of poultry for the midday break—you won't need a nap after the fact, and you'll still be a little hungry for more.
It wasn't "the Shed," just "Shed," as if there could be only one. And indeed, right from the opening in 2013, Doug Lipton and Cindy Daniel's business was idiosyncratic, a true destination. A unique combination of an event space, a fermentation bar, a deli, a gardening store and a restaurant, spread over two floors and close to 10,00 square feet, Shed was an ambitious project, especially given the location in sleepy Healdsburg, where a new restaurant opens once a year, at best. A few weeks ago, however, owners Lipton and Daniel decided that the enterprise won't continue into 2019. Shed closed at the end of December and will only continue its existence as an online store, which will continue to sell Shed's pantry line. "After five and a half years of investing in the business, we have decided that our ambitious business model is not sustainable in a small city," says Daniel. "We simply need more people coming through our doors to support the growth we need."—Flora Tsapovsky
Hall to the Chef
Napa Valley's Hall Wines announced this week that the popular Hall Cabernet Cookoff will celebrate its 10th year this April 27 at the St. Helena winery. The conceit: 15 chef teams must create a small dish that pairs with the 2015 Ellie Cabernet Sauvignon. Chef teams include One Market, Blossom Catering Company, Harvest Table and numerous others. Tickets are $125–$200, and all proceeds to go nonprofit organizations selected by the winning chef team. Last year the event raised $90,000 for local charities, and since 2010, has raised $800,000.—T.G.