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Sonoma County Gazette
Pan seared scallops with faro
Pan seared scallops with faro

REVIEW - Santa Rosa Seafood Raw Bar and Grill

Jul 1, 2019
by Peter D. Posert


From astride his white horse in the cold, grey, descending morning fog, he yelled out to huddled band of warriors, “I take up my sword and fight the good fight today. Will you come fight with me?   Fight for your family, fight for your neighbors, fight for your town!” The horse reared up.  The fog lifted. The sun broke through and the battle was enjoined.  It is an old story...  

Now, the sentiment still rings true, but these days, old swords have been laid down and the new cutlass is the chip end of our credit cards. We still can fight the good fight though.  We choose where and how to spend our hard-earned dollars when we shop for our provisions or when we go out to a meal.

Fried Calamari

When I see a small business taking on the corporate food giants, fighting the course of our 20th century industrialization, my heart tends to go out to them. I want them to win.  My reward is not only some smug internal self-satisfaction, but almost always a sense that I’m getting better ingredients, a better community and a better quality of life.

On the flip side, when a community loses its artisans; its wine shop, it’s butcher shop, its cheesemonger, or its bakery, etc. to the cold grey mass of the industrial food chain, it’s lost something special. It’s lost a noble and passionate craftsperson.  It’s lost another hard-working middle-class neighbor that isn’t easily replaced. It’s lost some individual charm and character.

Santa Rosa Seafood

Many of us have this idyllic image of the old village, of walking or riding a bicycle down to the square and going to the bakery for our daily bread and butcher for meat, the winery for a carafe, and the flower vendor for the table, etc. 

Now here in Sonoma County, these trades are returning.  The cheese mongers are back.  The new bakers have shiny ovens. The butchers are finding a receptive audience.  Brewers abound and the wineries beckon us with their monthly club wine deliveries. Amongst all the racket and noise of our lives, quietly tucked away into a tight fast stretch of Santa Rosa Avenue where if you blink, you’ll miss it, is our local fish monger, Santa Rosa Seafood. Almost just as hidden is its low-key little bistro next door,  Santa Rosa Seafood Raw Bar & Grill. I really want this place to be great.  It is.

Not long ago, in a bit of rush to make the curtain time, I called ahead and picked up a to-go order of fried calamari to munch on over at the nearby movie house instead of popcorn, and I realized how wonderful the Raw Bar & Grill really is. 

The calamari rounds were as tender as one could possibly expect yet the tentacle parts were perfectly crisp. The dipping sauce was deftly spiced for a lively piquant foil for the fried food. I can’t possibly remember the lame-o destruct-o movie, but I sure remember that calamari! Do you like real, fresh, tender and still crunchy fried calamari, cooked to perfection? This is a restaurant and dish worth seeking out.

I’ve been back a few times since.  The shrimp cocktail is perfectly sauced, the fried oysters and chips – everything crisp and crunchy, Prawns Fra Diavola is lively and spicy on the palate. A few stand-out dishes that are spectacular include fish tacos made a few ways with extra cabbage and delightful pico de gallo on top, perfectly pan seared scallops as tender as a pillow floating on a sea of flavorful faro, bacon-laced clam chowder if ya love bacon.  I’m sure there are more, it’s got that potential. 

Oysters and chips

How could this tiny little diner with difficult parking, do so many dishes right? I think the answer is simple.  They are fighting the good fight. You should too.  We all should be supporting this wonderful resource in our midst, an independent fish store and its adjacent little bistro. 

So, if you are searching for a source for your homemade seafood and shellfish dishes, get on your high white horse, grab your proverbial sword and march on down to the Santa Rosa Seafood for the freshest ingredients around. If you are in the mood for a night out and aren’t ready to drive to the coast, give the Raw Bar & Grill a try, especially on the way to the movie house… 


The Santa Rosa Seafood Bar & Grill is located at  958 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa.


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