Another Sacramento restaurant has shut its doors, adding to the plague of area restaurant failures that have mounted this year.
The sudden (though long time coming) closure of Buonarroti Ristorante at Town & Country Village is one more painful reminder of how California's woeful economic climate continues to affect small businesses. On Sept. 25, another Town & Country restaurant, the Terrace, went dark after serving its last Sunday brunch. It was owned by husband-wife Michael and Margo Powers.
Restaurateur-chef Daniel Alcantaro and his wife-business partner, Kathleen Alcantaro, invested $100,000 to open Buonarroti in October 2008, just as the economy took another downturn.
The Town & Country site was the couple's second restaurant. The first Buonarroti opened in downtown Lincoln in 2003, and will continue to operate, Daniel Alcantaro said this morning.
Buonarroti closed because "we ran out of money and couldn't hold on any more," Daniel Alcantaro said. "I wanted to close the doors a month ago. People don't go out to dinner that much with this horrendous economy, and you see restaurants closing every day."
Kathleen Alcantaro added, "I hope (our customers) understand that it was too difficult for us to have two restaurants in this economy. We appreciate their consistent support and will miss everybody very much."
Donahue Schriber was Buonarroti's landlord. The Costa Mesa-based retail-property company owns Town & Country Village, Pavilions and Natomas Marketplace, all in Sacramento, as well as 75 other shopping destinations in four Western states.
"The (closure) was the owners' sole decision," said Audrey Yokota, the company's director of marketing. "They are very strong restaurateurs, but they needed to focus their attention on their restaurant in Lincoln. We wish them nothing but the best."
Daniel Alcantaro is a skilled chef who loaded his menu with four-star dishes that emphasized freshness and quality ingredients. Many of the pastas were made from scratch - the linguine with clams and the lasagna were excellent - and the hand-tossed pizzas were fired in an almond wood-burning pizza oven. His seasonal menu featured softshell crabs and farmers market-quality produce, and in winter months the braised osso bucco (veal shanks) with mushroom-studded risotto flew out the door.
Alcantaro's signature red sauce was a marvel of flavor and texture. "My mother taught it to me, and her mother taught it to her," Alcantaro told me in December 2008, when I reviewed Buonarroti. "It's a vegetarian sauce with garlic, red wine and a lot of other things."
Buonarroti was among a handful of pioneering Northern California restaurants (including Randall Selland's The Kitchen in Sacramento and Michael Chiarello's Bottega in Yountville) to add Piedmontese beef to their menus. The lean cuts are from an heirloom breed of cattle originally from the foothills of the Italian Alps, the region known as Piedmonte.
Fortunately for the Buonarroti faithful, "we are keeping the Lincoln store," Daniel Alcantaro said. "It's a much smaller (space) and we can operate it with a smaller staff. The menu is pretty much the same, but with more (meat-based items). I'm going to add a lot of the dishes we had in Sacramento, because a lot of (our regular diners) will be coming out here."
Buonarroti will be open for lunch and dinner daily. Beginning Oct. 16, it will serve a menu-based Sunday brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The restaurant is at 460 G St. (Highway 65), Lincoln; (916) 645-7951, www.buonarrotis.com.
The restaurant is named after Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo Buonarroti.