Willi’s Wine Bar, Santa Rosa, California
I heard good things about Willi’s Wine Bar in Santa Rosa and planned to make it a lunch stop, but a host at one of our wine tastings said that Willi’s was special and we should go there for dinner. That meant that we didn’t have a reservation on a Friday night. We showed up around 7:00, and it was already full and buzzing, and more people kept coming. Luckily they were able to squeeze us in after 30 minutes, but I strongly suggest making a reservation.
Willi’s is a small, very popular restaurant loved by locals and tourists alike. They serve international small plates and have an extensive wine list (of course). The menu is divided by “surf,” “earth,” and “turf” and features a section of cheeses and charcuterie. Wines are available in many forms: flights, by the glass (many as 2-oz or 5-oz pours), half bottle, and bottle.
Between the two of us, we had a warm spinach salad ($10), arugula salad ($9), a spicy skillet-roasted shrimp with chiles ($12.50), Moroccan-style lamb chops ($15), and goat cheese gnocchi with exotic mushrooms and truffles ($12). Every dish was very complex, with so much flavor. Even the salad dressings were unique and delicious. I especially enjoyed the spinach salad, and the gnocchi was the crème de la crème for me. It practically melted in my mouth, and all of the flavors blended perfectly. My husband was enthralled with his lamb dish. We were oversaturated with pinots from our day of wine tasting, and ordered two white wines that we had not had before. It was interesting how the taste of the wine changed with each dish.
Service was very good. Even though it was crowded, our waiter was attentive and spaced the dishes out perfectly so we could take our time enjoying each dish. It was a great experience and I highly recommend it.