July 13, 2006
Winters Two-Step

Like all small farm towns, Winters comes alive on weekend nights. Unlike other small farm towns, however, the attractions are more diverse than a few bars and maybe a dance pavilion. Main Street through Winters has the Palms Playhouse, the Buckhorn Steak & Roadhouse, the tasting room of Berryessa Gap Vineyards, and, starting Aug. 5, Monticello Bistro.

Anthony Gruska, owner of Tastebuds Catering in Davis, and his wife Rhonda, a former events planner at the Capitol in Sacramento, are easing into the restaurant business. Their Monticello Bistro initially will be open Saturday nights only, then Friday and Saturday nights starting in September.

It will occupy the small cafe Steady Eddy's Coffee House & Juice Bar, which will remain open by day but become Monticello Bistro on weekend nights. This abbreviated schedule also will allow Gruska to continue his catering business during the week. The cafe is at 5 E. Main St.

The Gruskas are departing from the norm in one other respect. They'll be serving just one fixed-price, multi-course dinner, with only one seating. The opening-night menu, for example, will start off with a white-peach Bellini, to be followed by such dishes as a panzanella salad, beef braised with local syrah, and an Italian chocolate cake with raisins and walnuts. The price for the first three Saturday-night dinners is $45 per person, but note that the first event already is sold out.

The Aug. 12 dinner will have a Turkish theme, while the Aug. 19 dinner represents California Cuisine. The Gruskas are keen on assembling menus based on local seasonal ingredients, so dishes will capitalize on provisions now at their peak, such as green beans, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and figs.

Reservations are required: (530) 902-5520.

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