We were especially pleased last July when Attraversiamo opened for business in The Streets of Brentwood.
The Attraversiamo menu features “California cuisine with a European spin.” The owners, Anthony and Alyssa Roost, told us that they drew many of their culinary themes from fine dining experiences in Spain and Italy as well as venues in Napa, San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley. Their recipes use fresh ingredients that sync with their “everything straight from the source” tagline.
Attraversiamo takes advantage of East County’s agricultural abundance in implementing a “farm to table” culinary style with a genuine commitment to the principles of using ingredients that are sustainable and local and found within 100 miles. For example, the Pan Seared “Top-Feed” Passmore Ranch Sturgeon with brown butter is served with Delta asparagus, local turnips both roasted and raw, and Frog Hollow fruit.
Many ingredients come from products supplied by three local sources: Ghiggeri & Stonebarger Farms, Frog Hollow Farm, and First Generation Farmers. Genuine California beef and seafood from California fisheries are delivered three times a week. No processed or frozen ingredients are used in any dish or entrée. Attraversiamo makes their own pickles, vinegars, and hot sauce. Each day they create a fresh batch of the large, broad, flat Pappardelle Pasta. They serve beverages made of fresh ingredients including local produce, fresh cut herbs, and hand-squeezed juices.
The original Attraversiamo menu was created under the direction of a chef consultant, Joey Elenterio, who is the youngest American-born Michelin Star recipient and honored by a Zagat 30 Under 30 award and acknowledged by the San Francisco Chronicle as a Rising Star Chef. Joey directed the setting up of the kitchen and created an exceptional menu. Executive Chef Jourdan de Sanctis then applied his 15 years of experience in assuming day-to-day operation of the kitchen and dining areas. He continues to follow Joey’s philosophy of creating dishes that display elegance with simplicity, such as Attraversiamo’s popular and tasty Darn Good Fried Chicken, rather than the ostentatious and under-seasoned fare often presented by restaurants attempting to imitate continental-style cuisine.
“The prep work here is time consuming,” said Anthony. “The bar staff gets in two to three hours before service, and the chefs are here at least five hours beforehand.” That’s necessary because preparation for fine dining requires planning and patience. Chef Jourdan begins the day at 11:00 a.m., preparing the day’s fresh pasta featuring made-on-site fettuccine using Brentwood sweet corn butter and flavored with fresh jalapenos, tarragon, roasted chili oil, and crispy pork belly. Chef Jourdan also selects the day’s produce, receiving new deliveries, and continuing to monitor progress on his 12-hour pork belly and seven-hour octopus creations while beginning the four-hour chicken — all prepared with the sous vide poach method that ensures juicy flavors and dishes that seem to explode in the mouth with flavor.
We sampled some of the restaurant’s tasty dishes and entrées. I have a background in the food industry and was impressed with the preparation and presentation. Each serving offered a mixture of palate-pleasing textures and flavors. Any genuine fine dining menu will incorporate entrées and side dishes that provide various taste sensations. However, some of the brilliant Attraversiamo dishes incorporate multiple textures and tastes on a single plate and often in a single bite.
I was also pleased with how colorful many of the dishes were. Such ingredients as green lettuce, purple beets, yellow mustard, and amber shades of butternut squash added color to the mixture of ingredients, while supplying complex and tasty qualities to the dishes. The ginger hues of little fried onion strings, for example, promoted the aesthetic qualities of a dish’s appearance, and their pleasing crunchiness provided a nice counterpoint to the dish’s greens, beets, and other soft and moist ingredients. Crunchy peas that popped when I bit into them accented the softness of a spoonful of beans.
We began our research with a Warm Winter Chopped Salad that featured delicate squash from First Generation Farmers together with braised beets, baby tomatoes, faro, pomegranate seeds, mustard greens, pumpkin seeds, crispy onions, turnip and garlic herb oil, and enhanced by 18 year balsamic. Scrumptious!
The Italian word attraversiamo means “to crossover,” and the menu offers items that tempt diners to leave their culinary comfort zones in order to investigate new taste delights. For example, the Griddled Baby Octopus offers a taste sensation that is unforgettably unique and memorably tasty. Bite-size octopi were smothered in baby beets, crunchy pork belly “adobo,” crispy delta wild rice, and mustard cream. Once again, the flavors, textures, and colors provided a memorable feast for both eye and palate. The Pappardelle Pasta was a delicious variation on the heavy pasta dishes typical of some Italian recipes. The made-fresh-daily pasta is suffused in a mixture of slow cooked pork sugo, together with fresh pressed tomatoes, local basil, wilted baby tomatoes, shaved ricotta salata, and basil microgreens.
The drinks served in the bar get the same attention to detail as the food. The menu offers a dozen cocktails, six of which are seasonal and all are interesting. The Al Fresco, for example, is prepared from lime vodka mixed with Thai basil, lime, watermelon, plus a sparkling Italian prosecco. A cocktail called Drop the Beet features green chili vodka, beet, lemon, egg white, and celery bitters. We sampled the Attraversiamo Mule. Delicious!
Attraversiamo dining areas have an ambiance that somehow manages to be both rustic and modern, with wood and copper accents, providing a neutral environment that is equally suitable for a formal night out on the town and a quick happy hour snack on the way home from work.
The restaurant offers extraordinary seasonal dining events. Their Harvest Dinner on October 5 was sold out. On January 11 they will host a 4-course meal. There will be wine and beer tastings, and each course will be paired with a fine wine. Seating is limited to 60. If you plan to attend this memorable event, call now for a reservation. (You might already be too late.)
Attraversiamo has a goal of gaining the attention of food critics and taking its place as one of the top restaurants in the Bay Area. They should be able to pull this off! They deserve to be a Michelin-star restaurant. That’s how good they are!
Anthony & Alyssa Roost’s pathway to becoming restaurateurs started when they reached the point in their careers at which they could do something with their lives that they genuinely enjoyed doing. Alyssa had worked serving for years as an adoption coordinator, which she said was the most difficult and demanding work she ever did. Anthony had grown up in the food industry because his parents owned a small Lodi burger shop. As soon as he was old enough, Anthony said that he began sweeping the floors, flipping burgers, serving customers, and doing whatever else he could to help. He owned an electrical contractor company and had worked on a number of large projects. He and Alyssa were ready to do what they wanted to do and realized that wine and food were two of the things they liked most about life.
Their first idea was to open a wine bar, so their initial foray into the industry began in 2014 with a small wine bar in Discovery Bay called UnWined. A key to their success was that Anthony & Alyssa had discriminating tastes; they knew what they liked and were able to create the kind of experience that they would be pleased with themselves. Because of his construction background, Anthony was able to transform their visions and dreams into a bricks and mortar reality.
They began to build a nice reputation, and The Streets of Brentwood invited them to open a second UnWined. “They made us an offer we couldn’t refuse,” Anthony said with a smile, so they moved in. However, they opened a larger operation that included beer, so they named it Vine & Grain. The business was thriving, but their vision increased during a trip to Europe that included a number of memorable dining experiences in Spain and Italy. They were impressed by the fresh ingredients that made Italian dishes so tasty. Spain was more topic; with a variety of delicious “small bites” dishes. It occurred to them that Brentwood residents should be able to enjoy some of the remarkable culinary efforts that had made their trip so memorable. They decided to create menus that would bring a European influence to a Brentwood dining experience.
When they returned, they continued their research in fine dining venues found in California. They studied San Francisco’s Flour + Water’s remarkable approach to bread and butter presentations and to the clean simple pastas at the heart of their menu. They also learned from Napa’s Goose & Gander’s selections of amazing rustic American food, tasty bar bites, and seasonally driven menu.
By a stroke of good fortune, just as Anthony & Alyssa began planning to grow their involvement in the local culinary scene, the Fat Burger franchise adjoining their Vine & Grain was going out of business. They took over the location, worked some remodeling magic on it, and last summer began to offer Brentwood residents dining experiences that would previously have been possible only by leaving town.