October 3, 2012
Fall menu and wine list get a tryout at Fabian's Italian Bistro

Area restaurants are busy compiling and testing their fall menus and wine lists, a good move for us diners. One of our go-to's, Fabian's Italian Bistro, is doing that, too.

As part of it, co-owner Christian Forte (with wife Mercedes) and his crew will pour five tastes from their new vinos, 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6.

The freight is $10 and includes appetizers by chef Tom Patterson - torched Brie with fresh fig mustard; house-cured wild salmon with phyllo, lemon crema and mache lettuce; and marinated baby beets with black sea salt.

As for the wines: Ritzman Reisling, Bivio Pinot Grigio, Robert Hall Merlot, Bivio Super Tuscan, and Contemassi Chianti Reservo. "And possibly a special 'surprise pour' as well," said Forte.

There's a special dinner entree that night, too, but not included in the tasting price: pan-seared halibut with purple potato gnocchi and roasted eggplant topped with bagna cauda sauce (browned butter, roasted garlic and anchovy; $21.95).

As good as that sounds, there's an option - a dish that became one of our favorites as soon as it joined the menu. Bistro chicken is a deboned, pan-seared half-chicken accompanied by a hash of butternut squash, Yukon gold potatoes, spinach and house-cured pancetta ($19.95).

Fabian's is in the Almond Orchard center, 11755 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks; (916) 536-9891,

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