July 7, 2006
Masque Still in a Groove

In the dining column of Sunday Ticket in this weekend's Sacramento Bee, I respond to reader questions, including one that asks about restaurants with live musical entertainment.

I mention Masque Ristorante in El Dorado Hills as one place with occasional music, but before last night - the column was written earlier in the week - I hadn't realized just how entertaining the restaurant's music could be.

Last night's performance was by an R&B group that a server said was Devious Groove, whose cohesive, driving and catchy sounds had guests up and dancing despite crowded conditions on the patio.

This was our first return to Masque since a tumultous turnover in key personnel in January. Chef Angelo Auriana and manager Nicola Rivieccio left in a falling out with the restaurant's two other partners. Since then, none has said much about the breakup other than to remark that it was like a marriage that just didn't work out.

At the time, Masque was one of the Sacramento region's finer restaurants, with an inspired interpretation of regional Italian cooking, servers of snap and flair, and an exhaustive and exhilarating wine list.

I'll elaborate on our experience last night in a future dining column in Sunday Ticket, but for now I'll just say that I haven't had a more impressive dinner this year, from the seasonal appropriateness and assuredness of dishes through the more relaxed yet equally smart service to the sweep of the wine program.

No plans this weekend? Check out Masque.

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