December 6, 2012
Is Enotria Sacramento's hottest restaurant?


Wednesday night on Del Paso Blvd. - it's generally never been one of Sacramento's main dining destinations. But what is this? Inside Enotria Restaurant Wine Bar, the dining room is near capacity as tunes from Everything But the Girl bump gently on the sound system. Meanwhile, a party of more than two dozen feasts in a separate room. David Hardie, Enotria's owner, pops through the dining room with a well earned smile. He's run Enotria since 1997 but business has been hit and miss, with any number of key staff changes, and sunk $1.8 million into a renovation effort to help Enotria better establish its mark on Sacramento's wining and dining scene.

Has Enotria emerged as Sacramento's hottest restaurant of the day?

Just picked up a copy of the new Sactown magazine, and look at this: an extended feature on Enotria executive chef Pajo Bruich and more about Enotria's restaurant experience. That's just the latest press on Enotria, which has included:

* A spread in the Nov. issue of Comstock's magazine

* A review of Enotria in the Dec. issue of Sacramento magazine

* A recent segment on "Good Day Sacramento" about Sacramento's top five sommeliers which included Matthew Lewis of Enotria

* A recipe from Bruich in the latest issue of Wine Enthusiast.

* An "Appetizers" item about Enotria listed as one of OpenTable's "top 100" wine lists.

That's not to mention two Enotria pieces penned by the Bee's Blair Anthony Roberston, including a four-star review and follow-up blog post with more details about his favorite dishes and notes about the food and wine pairings. (And we can add this blog post to the press deluge, too).

It should also be noted that Enotria has enlisted the services of Wagstaff Worldwide, a leading public relations firm for the hospitality industry that includes such renown restaurants as San Francisco's Foreign Cinema and Manresa of Los Gatos as clients.

The other key part going for Enotria: their food on Wednesday night was simply delicious, even stunning in some cases. Bruich knocked it out of the boulevard with his lobster dish that included green apple, caviar and lobster roe hollandaise, and an impeccable lime cured hamachi with Fresno chili pearls, among other items. I'm trying to think of a local restaurant which makes better house baked breads than Edward Martinez, Enotria's pastry chef (who was profiled in a Bee story which was included in Da Capo's "Best Food Writing 2012"). Martinez's hand-churned butter may be the best I've ever tasted.

Bruich says all the press and return customers have led to solid business over the last couple months.

"Immediately after Blair's review, we've been sold out every weekend," said Bruich. "We did 80 covers on Wednesday. That's capacity, and every single seat had butts in it. That's our goal. The response has been remarkable and we couldn't be happier."

The key will be maintaining that momentum. Enotria has seen another share of staff turnover, including the departure of Stan Moore, former sous chef of The Kitchen who joined Enotria when Bruich came on board in August. General manager Michael Coyne also left the restaurant recently. At the same time, Enotria's welcomed some new faces, including sous chef Savuthy Dy (an alum of Seattle's The Book Bindery and Urbane). Another new hire is Kimberly Morales, the prominent blogger behind Poor Girl Eats Well, who started this week as a hostess.

"We have an amazing staff that executes at a very high level," said Bruich. "We have a real desire to put Sacramento on the map, so to speak. I think we're unique. We've filled a niche and it was clear people were looking for that."


* Dining review: Enotria has stratospherically upgraded

* More details about Enotria's exceptional food, wine and staff

* From gang member to pastry chef, he finds sweet salvation

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