Eastside Road, Healdsburg, February 27, 2009
OH BOY WHAT a fine meal this was. Not surprising: Diavolo is the little brother of Santi, and both owe a lot to Franco Dunn. We know him basically for two reasons: he makes absolutely wonderful sausages, which we buy at the Healdsburg Farm Market in season; and he did a stage of some kind, for some length of time, at some point, at one of the greatest restaurants in our memory, Il Vipore, outside of Lucca, Italy.
The menu was amazing, with things like slow-roasted pork belly and ox tongue among the appetizers, baked rigatoni and pork cheeks as the one entrée. There is a number of pizzas; friends tell me they're particularly good. I settled for a pair of appetizers: Borlotti and farro soup with cabbage and pancetta, a dish that immediately made me think of sopa de ajo , so rich and deep ran its pork flavor — though the flavor of the beans was just as present, if subtler.
sorry the photo's no better: cellphone camera; available light
After it, braised oxtail bruschetta with roasted bone marrow and herb salad. You'd think that's simply marrow toast, not that marrow toast is anything simple: but what I had was two good-sized marrow-bones served with a decent helping of richly reduced oxtail, a spoonful of delicious black salt, and a small salad involving pickled onion as well as lettuce. With this, a perfect marrow-spoon.
Diavola reminds me of Il Vipore, but also of Waterboy in Sacramento; and the marrow took me back to Berowra Waters in Australia, where in 1986 or so I had very much the same meal though lacking, I think, some of the depth. Now I don't have to travel more than twenty minutes for it.
"Fred's Dago Red": Peterson Vineyards red wine